Horror is a niche genre. Doing comedy is difficult. So any attempt to bring the two together, dangerously veers into deep scrutiny. Frankly, it’s really difficult to make people scare and laugh at the same time. Many have attempted and have fell flat. Fortunately producers Raj, DK and Dinesh Vijan, the veterans of zombie comedy ‘Go Goa Gone’ and debutant director Amar Kaushik, hit all the right notes, with a cleverly written script and some amazingly talented actors. Based on an urban legend that happened in Bangalore in the nineties, known as ‘Nale Ba’ which translates to ‘come tomorrow’, ‘Stree’ is a solid entertainer and has every potential of becoming a successful film at the box office.
In a small town of Chanderi, where people live peacefully among the gossips of men going for ‘Frenship’ with prostitutes, elders stopping the young ones from watching ‘Suhaag Raat’ on the telly, an urban legend occurs every year for four days, where an evil spirit known as Stree takes men away, leaving their clothes only. The only way to stop her is to scribble on the walls – ‘Ohh Stree, Kal Aana’ meaning ‘Ohh Stree, Come Tomorrow’. Vicky or as he’s better known as Biki is the son of a local tailor and is famous for his amazing talent of ladies fashion in the vicinity. He can take measurements of a woman, only by glancing at her and is popularly known as ‘Manish Malhotra of Chanderi’. He and his two good-for-nothing friends, Jana and Bittu spend their times loitering around. So when his mysterious girlfriend’s arrival coincides with the time of Stree, all hell breaks loose. How he and his friends help the town from the clutches of the evil spirit, forms the crux of the tale.
To be honest, the first half of the film takes a good amount of time to set the premise but it feels like a breeze. Partly based on the premise of the prejudices that men have about women, it generously paints the characters being seedy, with multiple sexual innuendos and has an item song by a seductive Nora Fatehi for good measure. But once you’re invested into it, there’s no looking back on it. It becomes a madcap ride post interval and has superbly written jokes, sequences and even good amount of satire thrown into the mix. Be it the jibe at ‘Bhakts’ or a man living in the time of Emergency of 1975 or a minister waiting for the claps at the end of his speech, there are plenty of guffaws in the film and doesn’t disappoint at all. The writing is clever, has enough meat and picks up the lingo of a small town perfectly. It feels great to see the films made with the small town as the premise and the kudos goes to the writers Raj, DK and dialogue writer Sumeet Arora, who deserves a pat on the back, for some really hilarious quips.
You simply cannot go wrong with actors like Pankaj Tripathi and Aparshakti Khurrana. With a script that ably backs them up, they deliver fabulous performances respectively. Mr Tripathi plays Rudra, the Mr Know it all, has the audience in splits with his antics. He even has a running gag of an unknown lady called Shama calling on his phone but never once appears on the screen. Aparshakti is fabulous as Bittu, has a running gag of not filling his petrol tank adequately, done superbly. But the film belongs to Rajkumar Rao, the man who simply cannot do anything wrong, be it comedy or drama or romance. He just slays it as Biki, the ladies tailor. The way he enacts this whole persona is amazing. He gets the best lines, best sequences and brings the house down. Watch for his sequences when he speaks about his specialities as a tailor, his conversation with his father about controlling urges and towards the end when he mimics SRK while trying to be romantic! Shraddha Kapoor is strictly okay and frankly, her inadequacies as an actor show up, in front of such stalwarts. Abhishek Banerjee as Jana does well and mouths some finely written dialogues. Atul Srivastava as Biki’s father is fabulous, especially the sequence of ‘Swayam Sevak’!. Vijay Raaz’s cameo as a man stuck in the times of Emergency is hilarious.
‘Stree’ will make you roll on the floor and probably will also make you ponder at the preconceived notions and prejudices of men about women. But above all, it is a mass entertainer that will make you smile. Go for it.
The Cinemawala Rating: 4/5