Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi
Making a film that could make people laugh throughout is no easy task. Doing it through a setup and plot which honestly most people in today’s time would not relate to, is even tougher. Still, Amar Kaushik’s directorial debut Stree is incredibly funny. But the good part doesn't end here. Stree is extremely self-aware of how ridiculous and illogical it gets in various moments.
Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) is Chanderi’s Manish Malhotra, who can stitch an entire lehenga in just 31 minutes. He doesn’t need a tape measure to take women’s body measurements. He just needs to see them once for accurate fit when making their clothing pattern. His father (Atul Srivastava) believes Vicky is god-gifted.
Soon young, talented Vicky gets distracted from work as he falls head over heels for a mysterious girl (Shraddha Kapoor), who appears only during the four-day puja in the village, and later disappears. Vicky’s love story was picking up the pace but suddenly a man gets abducted in his town. Elsewhere, Rudra (Pankaj Tripathi) narrates Vicky’s friends Bittu and Dana (Aparshakti Khurana and Abhishek Banerjee) a tale of a spirit named Stree who has been there for several years. She visits the town every year for four days, pretty much what Shraddha’s character tells Vicky when she meets him the first time. All of this just adds to the intensified atmosphere of the film, which unfortunately, only lasts for the first half of the movie.
Stree is one of those films that has something for everyone, except horror fans: it’s a comic movie, a revenge drama, and even strangely romantic. It definitely raises expectations in a couple of scenes and combines the right mix of tension (still, no horror) with perfectly timed laughs, but all become repetitive and meandering after a point. The scenes are way too stretched in the second half as the film gets relentlessly silly. For instance, Vicky and his gang joke about the fact that Stree is an obedient and understanding spirit that stays away from men whose homes have the words "O Stree, kal aana" (Oh lady, come tomorrow) written outside their walls. At the same time, they call her a fool because she keeps coming back, and disappears soon after reading the same message (Oh lady, come tomorrow) over and over again. In another scene, when Vicky and Stree’s spirit comes face to face, he literally shuts her up, saying, “Ek minute chup yaar, ye kya bhain bhain laga rakhi hai.”
However, for a first time filmmaker, Amar has done a fairly decent job. In fact, it’s his smart direction that saves Stree from falling flat. Able to use a limited area and a handful of characters—to maximum effect, Amar has delivered a fairly watchable movie.
If you are scared of watching regular Hindi horror shows, then Raj & DK’s screenplay might actually stand a chance to scare you. The rest of the movie-going population will find it a straight-up comedy. But yes, let’s give credit where it’s due. Every single cast member has been given enough space in the story to explore their character. And, all of them are naturally, unashamedly funny. Sumit Arora gives us the witty piece of dialogue when Pankaj Tripathi’s Rudra says, “Stree hai, purush nahi, zabardasti nahi uthati!”
Rajkummar is too good at physical comedy and acting like a simpleton. His character manages to succeed in evoking a chuckle every time he comes on screen. As Vicky, Rajkummar is effortlessly insouciant, funny and intensely romantic. There is also plenty of comic relief from Pankaj Tripathi’s Rudra, who moves at such an unstoppable pace that you won’t be able to control your reaction. Aparshakti and Abhishek, too, play a great support and do grab your attention with their comic timing. Shraddha holds same expression throughout, but it’s also because she is not allowed to reveal who she is.
Stree is a movie anyone can enjoy, but only if they can compromise on the horror part.