Bollywood, Film Critic, Film Review, Horror film, New Release

O Stree, Raksha Karna

Guys, this movie has got to be the most outrageous movie of the year!

Stree is a full dhamaal movie. But don’t take it lightly… it’s a true blue horror movie.  And a comedy. And these guys may well have created a whole new genre of films, Comic Horror!

The movie is as funny as it is spooky!! One minute I was so scared, and in another I was rolling in laughter. In some scenes I felt like I was in the top seat of a ferris wheel which was heading down in a free fall… Gud-gud in stomach, but can’t help laughing at the same time. Only a bhoot can make this happen 🙂

Stree is so fresh in presentation and content, it’s like no film you’ve seen before.

The Plot

The bhootiya story is set in the small town of Chanderi, in Madhya Pradesh. Very typical village setting…small mom and pop shops, the village temple, the closely knit village folk with the implicit license to be bang in the middle of each others’ lives, a village hero and his two best friends and the village Mr. Know All.

 

Wait, that’s not all… Far, in the long panning shot, you can see an abandoned haveli, ominiously overlooking the village. All that is needed now to get some excitement in the villagers’ humdrum rural life is a ghost story that flourishes in such settings.

I can remember so many childhood ghost stories narrated by cousins who lived in towns and villages whenever we visited them. Headless chudail on the railway tracks, the witch who made travelers forget where they were going, the howling wind and a whirlpool of dust in just one part of the roof while the rest of the house slept in peace. And how did these people who saw ghosts knew they were ghosts? Simple, they would have inverted feet. Ghost logic! So back to chudails…

Sure as hell, (pun unintended) Chanderi too had its trademark Chudail.

Now this chudail had her own quirks… every year she made her appearance on the four days of the annual village festival and preyed on unsuspecting men. That’s right, the chudail was after the men of the village. In the dark of the night, she would sweetly call out to her potential victim. If the poor guy turned and saw her, he was finished. What would be found of him the next day would be the clothes he was last seen wearing. That was the signature the serial chudail left behind – the clothes. Many a men had disappeared on the four fateful nights of the festival, year after year.

But this chudail also had some basic decency. Like, if the villagers wrote outside their house, O Stree Kal Aana, she would respect their sentiments and leave, to come back tomorrow (And tomorrow never comes 🙂

Now, here come the reluctant, ‘no-option’ ghostbusters of the movie. Rajkumar Rao, the hero of the village and his sidekicks, Bittu and Janna. Vicky is the best ladies tailor you can find, who can ‘size’up a woman by just looking at her, quite literally. That’s his superman USP J. His tailor father thinks that Vicky is none other than bhagwaan ka darzee roopi avatar 🙂

And Vicky’s friends, Janna, an oggly eyed simpleton, who reminded me of Suppandi, Tinkle comics, remember? And Bittu, the other friend, a little competitive and dedh shana, but practical.

This self proclaimed ‘modern boy’ Vicky gets lured and enamoured by this mysterious belle, who is an outsider but strangely reappears during the festival since two years and befriends Vicky.

What’s more strange is that apart from Vicky, nobody else has ever seen her. Bittu and Jann have only heard the boastful tales about the bewitching beauty showing romantic interest in our hero Vicky. It gets more strange… For their second date, the girl asks Vicky majnu to get her weird totem stuff like the hair of a white cat, the tail of a lizard and so on.

Spooked you, right?

Well, the story takes a horrorific turn when the Stree is on the prowl and one of Vicky’s two friends disappears. They find his clothes on the road the next day!

Enter Mr. Know All of the village, Mr. Rudra, (played by the supremely talented Pankaj Tripathi) who has a personal library of all things knowledgeable.

Together with his team of ghostbusters, Vicky, the Rakshak of the Gaon as per a book published about the village called Chanderi Puraan, try to rid Chanderi of the chudail.

Please expect all the deadly camera pans from behind that you would in a horror film. The andheri raat ka sannata, the sudden malfunctioning of the bike on a lonely road, the jungle ka raasta, the screeching flight of bats, the village lights going off on an empty road, the eerie haveli in ruins… enough sound, light and drama to send some chills through your spine.

And then ACTION! Nothing can prepare you for the sudden appearance of the scariest chudail your childhood imagination can conjure up.

Now the point is, how on earth, can anybody put comedy into this, you would think. But believe me, the movie is a laughathon, with hilarious dialogues, the hopelessly tragic-funny situations the actors were put into, the reactions and comic timing of the great actors, especially Rajkumar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi… Don’t  be surprised  if you find yourself covering your eyes and stifling laughter at the same time.

For example, imagine the outlandish situation where Gaon Rakshak, Vicky, is supposed to offer his ‘body’ to satisfy the lustful chudail in a true filmy style Suhaagraat.  Or imagine, his predicament when he is supposed to stare into the gouged out scary eyes of the chudail with equal ‘pyaar’ in his own eyes and a

smile on his lips. And the way Rajkumar has carried off that one scene, it is enough to prove that he is one of finest actors of Bollywood.

The little ‘jawaani ki oorja’ gyaan given by Vicky’s father to him is truly epic. (Actually I am sure it is ‘inspired’ by the famous father-n-son birds and bees education dialogue in the Hollywood sex comedy movie, American Pie).

However, the ace up the film’s sleeve is…in between all the spine chilling and rib tickling episodes, you see the emergence of  invisible parallel script, that is al the time showing you a mocking mirror and the ‘male’ficient society we live in. Where, all the rules of demeanor are reserved for the women folk – don’t get out of the house too late, don’t respond to the sleazy cat calls on the road, or you are finished. The objectification of women… and so on.

By calling the film Stree, the makers have struck bullseye, because in this microcosm of Chanderi, it is the men who are objectified, the tables are turned and it’s their turn to ‘behave’… varna… chudail le jaayegi 🙂

Superb script by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., hilarious, earthy dialogues by Sumit Arora, super adept direction by Amar Kaushik and lastly out of this world and such at-ease performances by the actors… makes me wonder, who needs star power!! These guys- Rajkummar, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana (who is Ayushman Khurana’s brother) and Abhishek Banerjee – make acting look so easy. No hamming of any dialogues, timely reactions, natural dialogue delivery, they look like the true blue sons of the soil, effortlessly. Even Shraddha Kapoor blended in so well with the team and easily looked like she hailed from the hinterland.

Hail the new crop of filmmakers, including the writers, directors, actors, etc. who are doing such a great job at keeping the audiences entertained with fantastic, original fare… What a time for Indian cinema and what an opportune time for new talent to enter the industry.

I am just loving it!

8 thoughts on “O Stree, Raksha Karna”

  1. Bang on Kavita!
    Watched Stree yesterday. Your review exactly describes what comes to our mind thereafter. Just love these type of unusual & highly gripping movies. Totally agree with you on the immensely talented cast & crew.

  2. Gr8 review Kavita…so true to the essesnce of the story…enjoyed the movie and ur version makes it even more enjoyable!:))

  3. Hi To be honest I don’t like Horror movies. So obviously I was not going to see this but after your review I am not sure I may just see it. It seems interesting.As usual you have nailed it. Giving just enough hint to make it intriguing.

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