Like all unusual, inexplicable ghost stories we’ve grown up watching, here too we’re served with a tale that defies easy explanations but one that draws you right in. There’s no time for why-abouts when you’re already warned with a ‘based on a ridiculous phenomenon’ disclaimer. Credits also to the writers (Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK) and the director (Amar Kaushik) who keep you riveted in this imaginative tale, which, if not in good hands, could’ve possibly looked outrageously silly. Horror comedy is a barely explored, if not a completely unwalked territory for Hindi cinema. We’ve only scratched the surface. But with Raj and DK’s zombie horror Go Goa Gone (2013) and now Stree (2018), we’ve come a step closer to justifying the genre.
From the atmospherics to the sound design, cinematography (Amalendu Chaudhary) to the performances, Stree has a lot going for it. It seamlessly blends several elements — comedy, horror, satire, commentary on gender bias.
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Stree‘s ghost tale may be strewn with archaic beliefs and genre clichés but the grammar of this film is far from it. It ridicules misogynistic mindsets; its characters (and their language) aren’t cut out of a mainstream Bollywood film. Stree is a well-intentioned and relevant effort especially in today’s context when we’re talking equal rights for women and men like never before.
I was reminded of this very fascinating French short film I’d seen sometime back on gender role reversal.
It’s interesting the makers used this genre to tell their story. Horror is metaphoric of the times we live in, wittily portrayed by writer Shastri (brief appearance by Vijay Raaz) who’s still stuck in the ‘Emergency’ period and chooses not to believe we’re in better times.
Stree is as entertaining as it is relevant. It brings together a fine ensemble of actors — Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Shraddha Kapoor, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee, Atul Shrivastava, Vijay Raaz each of who has a commanding screen presence. The incredibly talented Rajkummar Rao pours his soul into the character, as always, and shines in a hilarious sequence where he’s struggling to show his love for the female ghost while being mind-fuckingly creeped out.
Abhishek Banerjee’s is a class act. Aparshakti boasts of brilliant comic timings. Pankaj Tripathi and Vijay Raaz possess an inimitable flair for delivering one-liners.
It hasn’t been an exciting year at the movies but Stree is among the better films of 2018. Go watch it!
For those of you who already have, what did you think about the film? And if you’re wondering what the fourth rule is, a sequel is on the way.
Director: Amar Kaushik
Writers: Raj Nidimoru, Krishna DK
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Abhishek Banerjee, Aparshakti Khurrana, Pankaj Tripathi, Vijay Raaz
By Mansi Dutta
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