The town of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh is haunted by a mysterious evil female spirit called Stree, who preys upon men leaving behind only their clothes. In order to save the people from the Diablo, the residents paint O Stree, Kal Aana (O’ Lady, come tomorrow) in front of their gates because apparently only then, she doesn’t hurt the inhabitant of that particular house.
Now, Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) is an expert tailor in this small town and is visited by a mysterious belle (Shraddha Kapoor) who claims to be an outsider and wishes him to stitch her a lehenga for the upcoming festival, to which he readily agrees. Smitten by this beauty, Vicky brags about her to his friends Bittu (Aparshakti Khurrana) and Jana (Abhishek Banerjee). Though both the friends are elated about it at first, the eventual disappearance of men in the town and the uncanny demeanour of the girl makes them doubt as to whether she is the eponymous spectre or not.
Are Bittu and Jana right about the girl? How will Vicky react to their theory? Who is this girl and what’s her business in this supposedly cursed town?
Positive Points: –
- Stree is not just funny but an absolute laugh riot from its start till its end and it’s very difficult for anyone to not enjoy it.
- The performances of almost every cast member particularly that of Rao, Khurrana and Pankaj Tripathy are outstanding. They not only ameliorate its humour but entertain you with their impeccable chemistry as well.
- Despite its heavier reliance on comedy, it still manages to scare you with its horror gimmicks and the credit for the same largely goes to director Amar Kaushik and the sound team (sound editing and sound mixing).
- The dialogues, hands down, are terrific especially for their crude yet quirky sense of humour which makes the most direct sexual reference unappealingly hilarious.
Negative Points: –
- The basic story structure of Stree is just like any horror film without any novelty or discernible craftiness.
- The second half of the film comes up as tepid in comparison to its hilarious and superlative first half for the horror takes a back seat due to being watered down by its comical gigs.
- There are plenty of unexplained elements in the film which make it look somewhat void. However, one can note that these voids have been deliberately maintained in order to build up a sequel which is arguably a possibility.
Direction, Screenplay & Other Technicalities: –
We rarely encounter movies where you’d be laughing throughout the runtime and clapping at almost every third scene. Thanks to the amazing dialogues and incredible performances of the cast, Stree is one such film. The humour in it ranges from light to quirky to dank, and all of these facets manage to amuse you without fail owing to Raj & DK’s shrewd work in crafting the lines. While the writing makes the film funny with almost little or no horror with regards to its paperwork, the horror angle of the movie has to be credited to the astuteness and sheer perspicacity of director Amar Kaushik. The way he has used sound to create the eerie atmosphere, he manages the induce the trepidation immaculately and efficaciously even without using a ghostly figure (at times), which was sometimes an additional humourous element. Having understood that, one has to applaud the sound mixing and sound editing department also for their sterling job.
If the film has any problems, it roots back to the skeletal form of its writing. Structurally, its story has nothing new to offer and follows many clichéd techniques used in horror films to put the characters in jeopardy, due to which many a time it makes no sense at all. Even if I commend the smartly crafted dialogues, I lament its rather bland plotline which could have been an ingenious piece of work but the film stays far away from it. Adding to the pain are the songs which seemed more of a burden and impediment to its unhinged comical manoeuvres much to the disappointment of any sincere viewer.
It’s difficult to decide as to whom to appreciate first and where to start with because almost every cast member has given a highly appreciable amount of contribution to the movie’s fun factor no matter how small it is. Rajkummar Rao is the future superstar, hands down! There’s nothing that he can’t do and he might even exceed the reputation of veteran superstars like Aamir Khan and (his favourite) Shah Rukh Khan, given the way he is pacing up the ladder. He is outstanding, undeniably hilarious and effortlessly charming, all that he should have been as Vicky in the flick. However, he is not the only one who stands out. The immense talent possessed by Pankaj Tripathy is not unknown and he makes sure that you don’t forget it or even neglect him. Even with the shortest of lines and deadpan expressions (as his character is required to be), he makes you laugh your heart out. Standing head to head with these two acting giants is Aparshakti Khurrana whose impeccable comic timing even overshadows the presence of the former two. Shraddha Kapoor is okay as she had nothing much to do in terms of acting. She is passable notwithstanding her character’s importance to the story. On the other hand, Abhishek Bannerjee and Atul Shrivastava also give splendid performances and provide an able support to the aforementioned actors.
Final Verdict: –
What makes Stree wonderful is its overall excellence in terms of most important aspects of filmmaking raging from the backend activities like direction, sound and camera work to the frontend affairs like acting and dialogues. It might not be the best film of the year but it’s definitely the most entertaining Bollywood flick of 2018, and I’m stating this despite the fact that one quarter of the year still remains to be unearthed. Miss it at your own risk!