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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Stree film review: comedy punches through not-so-scary horror

Male cast carry this entertaining movie about a woman scorned with more comedy than fright

Stree (2018) starring Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor. Courstey Maddock Films
Stree (2018) starring Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor. Courstey Maddock Films

First things first, there's nothing in Stree (Lady) to be scared of for moviegoers hesitant of the horror genre.

In fact, the movie is a comedy with moments that shock and awe with great punches to compliment a simple script.

Without revealing much, the film is about the spirit of a courtesan, who was lynched on her wedding night and takes her revenge during an annual four-day period of prayers.

Directed by debutant Amar Kaushik who delivers for Maddock Films. It is refreshing change to production ventures by Dinesh Vijan who hasn't pulled punches in heading into the unusual when not delivering hits such as Love Aaj Kal, Cocktail, Hindi Medium and Badlapur.

One of the movies from the oft-beaten track was a film on zombies, Go Goa Gone, with a comical touch. That was an aberration in Vijan’s line-up.

With Stree, everything clicks into place nicely with a film riffing as a desi version of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien who preys on men.

Writers Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru deliver on a script which incorporate even the phonics of the locale – Chanderi, a small town in northern India – as well as spins off modern hit dialogues from other movies. Like from the Pink tag line: "when a woman says no, it means No". When the irrepressible Pankaj Tripathi delivers the line on the intentions of the spirit that embodies Stree: "When she says yes, she means yes".

Lead actor Rajkummar Rao stars as a gifted tailor Vicky, who does not take his duties seriously. He is Bicky for all practical purposes when addressed by his two chum friends, Bittu (Aparshakti Khurrana) and Jana (Abhishek Banerjee).

Tripathi builds on his repertoire of the clown who can break the steeliest of silences or awkward pauses with comical punches effortlessly.

Shraddha Kapoor’s casting as the 'unnamed woman' is perfect as the lead actress with a bewitching smile and mystical brown eyes.

Ironically, it is the men who carry the film so well when the focus is on her. There is a nice twist to end the film, too, which goes well with Rao’s reputation as an actor of parallel cinema.

Where the film fades is the lack of standout music, and Stree takes the comedy lines a bit too far at a couple of crucial moments when it needed to ramp up the intensity.

Badshah and Mika Singh are lost in Sachin-Jigar’s music, but it is not too intrusive. They are good restroom breaks for the very faint-hearted despite the assurance earlier.

That should not take much away, hopefully, from an entertaining film otherwise.

_________

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Stree

Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5

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