Horror-comedy featuring Rajkummar-Shraddha keeps you rolling at the edge of your seat
Horror films in Hindi cinema have offered the most tragic viewing experiences in the last two decades that the audience does not take the genre seriously today. Just when you thought that things were going downward in 2018 with regressive storylines taking forefront, does innovation kick in.
Debut director Amar Kaushik whips up a delicious cocktail of horror and comedy with ‘Stree’, based on true incidents in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, from a script nicely weaved by directors Raj and DK of ‘Shor in the City’ and ‘Go Goa Gone’ fame. The plot is about a mysterious woman who was disillusioned and ostracized by the society and now avenges justice by going after men in the city. Men start disappearing with only their clothes left behind as a trace. Local tailor Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) who can sew and stitch as effortlessly as charm you, meets the new girl in town (Shraddha Kapoor) and the two decide to decode the mystery, much to the dissent of Vicky’s friends Jana (Abhishek Banerjee) and Bittu (Aparshakti Khurrana). Also joining them on their quest is the wise man of the town, Rudra (Pankaj Tripathi), who has an idea or two about the myth.
What’s interesting about ‘Stree’ is that director Kaushik does not waste time in force-feeding audiences about the plot. Much credit for that goes to Raj and DK’s screenplay which is written effectively enough that proceedings are happening at clap-trap speed. Sumit Arora’s dialogues are the soul of this film. Some of the one-liners will leave you laughing till your pit hurts. The stand-out scene where a father explains about sexual urges to his son is outright hilarious. Cinematographer Amalendru Choudhary captures the rustic locales of Madhya Pradesh, adding the right mood to the setting for a horror-comedy. Hemanti Sarkar’s editing is thankfully sleek.
As for the performances, clearly Rajkummar proves why he is a chameleon. Displaying fear and a flair to make you laugh, he sinks his teeth into his role. He is brilliantly supported by Abhishek and Aparshakti. Abhishek, infact, has the most variations ranging from goofy, innocent to haunting eventually. Aparshakti too, gets the local dialect spot-on making you wonder why he signed up for last week’s release, ‘Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi’. It is pretty much established in the trailer itself that Shraddha plays a mystical character, hence, her range is limited. Yet, she makes a striking presence. Pankaj gets prominence only in the second half and he makes a meal out of it. The only hiccup is the frankly needless Nora Fatehi dance number, which off late seems to be a mandate in every second release.
At two hours, ten minutes, ‘Stree’ isn’t novel but a refreshing watch that guarantees you laughs and the chills in equal measure.