Runtime: 2 hr 8 mins
Director: Amar Kaushik
Writer: Nidimoru and DK
Dialogues: Sumit Arora
Music: Sachin-Jigar, Ketan Sodha
Producer: Dinesh Vijan, Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru
Star Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Apparshakti Khurrana, Abhishek Banerjee, Vijay Raaj, Atul Shrivastava, Flora Saini, Nora Fatehi and Kriti Sanon
Stree is one of those movies that you walk into, with a vague expectation and forethought of what’s about to happen. You know that there will be some jump starts and some familiarly scary moments with some desi Hinglish laden humor. We went in with just those thoughts in our mind. Make us laugh and scare us a bit, and we will be happy. But then, Stree ticks off those goals with a breeze and it goes on to do so much more. There are healthy dollops of feminism throughout the movie. There are moments of horror and comedy, so well woven that you may be thoroughly confused about your own reaction. And there are a powerful bunch of actors, whose endearing performances win your hearts and give you a lot more than the sum total of a comic movie and a horror flick
Vicki, or Bicki (Rajkumar Rao) is an affable Chanderi youth, who has an unusual talent and a trusted bunch of friends (Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Bannerjee). An ancient legend brings a “femme supernaturale” running into and after their lives, demanding everything from them- their bodies, souls and lives… but not their clothes. As the town residents try to deter Stree-ji (watch the movie and you will chuckle at this later) from stealing their bodies sans clothes, it becomes obvious to the three buffoon-swaggers (aided by Pankaj Tripathi and Shraddha Kapoor) that there is more to the story than a chudail hunting random men at night.
There is a well-placed narrative of drawing a parallel between the modus operandi of the ghost and the stalker-issues that almost every woman in India has seen or personally dealt with. A female ghost stalking men and crying out their name, but who also gets their consent before devouring them! This role reversal goes about itself, without being preachy or in-the-face-obvious, which elevates Stree’s story to the point where it delivers powerful messages, neatly fused in the narrative and the dialogue.
Screenplay and Direction
The direction (by Amar Kaushik) is super-tight and so is the editing (by Hemanti Sarkar) and the screen play (by the writers). Comedy is hard enough to execute in itself and horror brings in another gigantic stream of possibilities and guffawable-errors. But Stree rarely loses the plot, staying very firm on every scene, keeping the flow crisp and engaging. In almost every scene, if you are not laughing, you are getting startled and very frequently, you are in the middle of both. No matter where you start watching Stree from, you will only find it intentional and well executed.
Rajkumar Rao. That last word is actually enough to summarize this section. But then, there is Pankaj Tripathi, who is stunningly brilliant, there is Aparshakti Khurana and Abhishek Bannerjee- whose buffoonery is as endearing as it is funny. And then of course, there is Rajkumar Rao. Even if his character doesn’t have a lot of written depth or shades, he brings out everything in a graceful, comedic form that is not only believable and effective, but also ridiculously powerful. Whenever the movie makes you think that it is slowing down, Rao’s face twitches and you are caught in splits again. The only complain you will have is Shraddha Kapoor. Being peppered with feminism and emancipation, it would have been better to have a stronger female cast.
The music is really good, considering the tough job it had- to fit into an already busy movie. The songs don’t take up too much space and they come and go, making a decent impact. You may want to check Nazar Na Lag Jaye once, to listen to a decent romantic number. A scene where the mission impossible theme (to tell us about the impossibility of some harebrained task that Rao is on), is wonderfully melted into some desi sounds, is just doubly bizarre and fun to watch.
Stree is a not-so-amazing premise, made super entertaining by a talented bunch of actors and great directorial execution. It is smart, when it wants to be, telling you that mispronounced English is not the only thing it brings to the laugher department. Its horror is effective, its actors, save one, are delightfully brilliant and its scenes of pandemonium will get your neighour to ask you to calm down. Stree is one of those moments, when a difficult piece of cinema comes true naturally. Go relish it for some great horror, great comedy and a non-preachy and yet important and powerful social message!