Genre: Horror, Comedy
Direction: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana
Duration: 2hours 7mins
Stree is said to be based on actual events. A small town supposedly in MP gets haunted by an entity during the four days of pooja dedicated to a local deity. Three friends – Vicky (Rajkummar Rao), Jana (Abhishek Banerjee) and Bittu (Aparshakti Khurana) take it upon themselves to rid their town of this menace once and for all. They are helped in this journey by a motley crew comprising a bookseller, Pankaj Tripathi, Vijay Raaz, an author who wrote the history of the town and Shraddha Kapoor, the girl Vicky loves. How they combat the spirit and get rid of it forms the crux of the film.
The film is written by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, who have also produced the film along with Dinesh Vijan. Raj and Krishna are known for their wacky humor and they do not disappoint here too. The film is peppered with silly situations bound to keep you in splits throughout. Rajkummar Rao, for example, plays a tailor who can take the accurate measurements of his clients just by giving them an once-over. He also sews clothes at breakneck speed, and his father considers him an avatar of the tailoring god. The sex “gyan” conversation between him and his father is hilarious. The ghost too is funny in the sense that it abducts the men sans their clothes. The interaction between three friends keeps you in smiles and smacks of real conversations between childhood buddies. And Rajkummar’s clumsy courtship of Shraddha carries moments of mirth.
It’s not to say that the writers have had a smooth run throughout. We see irksome bloopers like our three heroes going to a mujra on the night of the pooja. Even those who regularly indulge in such stuff refrain from doing so during auspicious days and such an act would be considered sacrilegious in a small town up North. Shraddha asks for such presents as a cat’s hair and the tail of a lizard and Rajkummar procures them without batting an eyelid. The climax is long drawn and suddenly sprouts feminist leanings. Shraddha’s character takes a very strange decision in the end which doesn’t make any sense at all, negating the whole point of the film. Newbie director Amar Kaushik should have kept an eye on such incongruous happenings but seems to have followed the script written by his producers and mentors to a T.
What keeps our interest alive is the dialogue, which is witty and earthy, and the lively performances. Pankaj Tripathi is a hoot as the local know-it-all. His comic timing is to the mark and we wish there was more of him on the film. Aparshakti as the cynical friend is a natural but the most fun is had by Abhishek Banerjee, who wreaks havoc when possessed. Shraddha Kapoor emits the required mysterious aura and looks good opposite Rajkummar, sharing an easy chemistry with him. He, of course, is the soul of the film, lifting it up even in the midst of corniest of situations through his sublime performance. His reactions when confronted by the evil spirit are priceless, as is his awkwardness in Shraddha’s presence.
The film’s art direction is on point, as is the cinematography, capturing the essence of a small town perfectly. The CGI is okay but the background score deserves special mention. It’s impeccable. A horror film needs sudden dips and lows in background music to evoke terror which this film provides amply.