Shraddha Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao in Stree. Rajkummar falls in love with Shraddha, who everyone believes is a ghost.(YouTube)
Shraddha Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao in Stree. Rajkummar falls in love with Shraddha, who everyone believes is a ghost.(YouTube)

Stree movie review: Rajkummar Rao’s horror comedy needs more laughs

Stree movie review: This comedy about a female ghost is pretty crazy, but despite good performances, the lines aren’t funny enough and the plot isn’t clever enough.
By Raja Sen | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 01, 2018 09:57 AM IST

Stree
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Aparshakti Khurrana, Pankaj Tripathi
Rating: 3/5

 

 So naive are the people of Chanderi, they believe the moon — called Chanda Mama in fairytales — is literally their uncle. So says a book of village lore hidden inside a copy of the Kamasutra in the local library. Many of its pages have been folded into paper-boats, but the book matters because Chanderi is under attack from a female spirit. Sighted on the four nights of the annual puja, she abducts only the menfolk while leaving their clothes behind. Beware, boys who walk home alone at night.

Stree, directed by Amar Kaushik, is a comedy about a lovelorn tailor who falls for a girl who may or may not be the ‘Stree’ the town fears. She visits the town annually on the days of the festival, never enters the temple, and, perhaps most damningly, doesn’t own a mobile phone. Could young Viki, a tailor so accurate he can measure women with his eyes, have found himself a potential girlfriend? Or is this girl who wants him to make her lehenga the kind of bhoot who likes her clothes bespoke?

Rajkummar Rao and Aparshakti Khuranna in a still from Stree.
Rajkummar Rao and Aparshakti Khuranna in a still from Stree.

Based loosely on an urban legend from Bangalore, this is a potentially hilarious setup. The cast is solid with Rajkummar Rao as Viki, flanked by Aparshakti Khurana and Abhishek Banerjee as his two buddies, but despite the gusto with which the actors play off each other, Stree never quite brings down the house. The dialogues don’t do justice to the absurd situations, and the lines are often underwritten — though this is less evident when greats like Pankaj Tripathi and Vijay Raaz show up. The laughs are inconsistent, and the plotting feels sloppy and rushed. The ideas are fine, but the writing needed work.

Rao is likeable as ever, especially when rattling off types of blouses, though this is too eager a performance to be entirely convincing. Rao’s lovable lisping loser is a character we have seen before and there isn’t much novelty to be found here, though there are a few moments when the actor conjures up something striking — like when he urgently contorts his face in a desperate imitation of Shah Rukh Khan because he’s been asked, bizarrely enough, to look at a ghost with love. His body language around a sewing machine is also right on the money.

It is Shraddha Kapoor, surprisingly enough, who brings a certain charm to her initially inscrutable character, but once the film gives her more to do, she struggles in comparison to the fine actors who surround her. Khurana is wonderful as a guy who sells readymade clothing and believes in only filling fifty bucks worth of petrol in his bike at a time, while much of the show is stolen by Banerjee, a gangly actor with a zany and unpredictable energy. Tripathi is a fine choice to play that horror-movie cliché — the wise man who knows all and guides the heroes to their destiny — simply because he can render any line irresistible, but it is disappointing to watch him spell out the basics of the local legend to young men who have grown up in that town and should know better.

Also watch: Rajkummar Rao, Aparshakti Khurana & Abhishek Banerjee

 

Then again, Stree is all about men who should know better. Kaushik’s film gives us not only a pleasant/terrified town, but a place that is both sexually repressed as well as sexually keen: old men have birds-and-bees conversations with their sons, grown men aren’t allowed to watch lovemaking scenes in the movies, and yet the word ‘friendship’ implies a relationship between young men and local prostitutes. The ideas, as I said, are there.

I wish the first half of Stree made me laugh more often, and I wish the second half — which is outrageously quirky — was plotted more cleverly. The film hurtles toward a messy climax that feels like a cop-out, because of cheesy predictability but more because the red herrings used in the film may have led to more satisfactory outcomes. There is a character, for example, who seems to be speaking to a dead woman on the phone through the film… but nothing is made of this.

Watch Stree trailer:

 

In a bright gag, Vijay Raaz plays a writer who lives “inside The Emergency.” He’s in hiding, wondering if The Emergency has been lifted. People reassure him that we are in better times now, but he (wisely) does not believe. At one point, someone says blind faith is dangerous, and that one should “be anything but not a bhakt,” a follower. These are fine touches to a madcap comedy, but they jar with the film and feel like lip service. Still, it is heartening that the ghost does not assault her prey without consent. She is the feminine after all, and she wants respect. #StreeToo.

Follow @htshowbiz for more

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Mandira Bedi's home in Madh Island.
Mandira Bedi's home in Madh Island.

Step into Mandira Bedi's beautiful Madh Island holiday home, it's now on Airbnb

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:20 AM IST
  • Mandira Bedi has put up her Madh Island house on Airbnb. The actor has reportedly been working tirelessly to refurbish the place before letting it out. See pictures here.
Close
Gauahar Khan's father has died.
Gauahar Khan's father has died.

Gauahar Khan's father dies hours after actor shared a prayer for him

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:15 AM IST
  • Gauahar Khan's father died on Friday after being admitted in a hospital for several days. The agctor had been posting about him as she kept close to him in his last days.
Close
Sonam Kapoor has shared many pictures to wish sister Rhea Kapoor on her birthday.
Sonam Kapoor has shared many pictures to wish sister Rhea Kapoor on her birthday.

Sonam shares unseen wedding reception picture to wish Rhea on her birthday

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:52 AM IST
  • Sonam Kapoor has shared several throwback pictures with sister Rhea Kapoor while wishing her on her birthday on Friday.
Close
Liger stars Ananya Panday and Vijay Deverakonda in lead roles.
Liger stars Ananya Panday and Vijay Deverakonda in lead roles.

Ananya Panday steps out for dinner with her Liger team mates, see pic

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:29 AM IST
  • Ananya Panday on Thursday shared a picture with her team mates from Liger as they all went for dinner together. See her picture here. Liger stars Ananya and Vijay Deverakonda in the lead.
Close
Amitabh Bachchan has shared about two coincidences on his blog.
Amitabh Bachchan has shared about two coincidences on his blog.

Amitabh Bachchan points out at quirky coincidence about India vs England Test

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:00 AM IST
Amitabh Bachchan has hinted on his blog that he may need to go a another eye surgery, like the one he underwent earlier this week. He also shared a trivia on the ongoing cricket test match.
Close
Sara Ali Khan and Ibrahim Ali Khan are siblings and he often features in her posts.
Sara Ali Khan and Ibrahim Ali Khan are siblings and he often features in her posts.

Sara Ali Khan wishes Ibrahim on his birthday: 'I love my little brother'

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:29 AM IST
  • Sara Ali Khan took to Instagram to wish her brother Ibrahim Ali Khan on his birthday on Friday. See his specially designed football-shaped cake.
Close
Kangana Ranaut on sets of Tejas.(Instagram)
Kangana Ranaut on sets of Tejas.(Instagram)

Kangana Ranaut shares 'army training' video from Tejas sets. Watch

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:12 AM IST
  • Kangana Ranaut has posted a video from the sets of Tejas in which she can be seen training on a net. She plays an Indian Air Force pilot in the film.
Close
Brad Pitt had wished Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan for their wedding.
Brad Pitt had wished Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan for their wedding.

Brad Pitt once congratulated Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor on their wedding

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:06 AM IST
  • Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan tied the knot in 2012. At the time, Brad Pitt wished the couple 'all the luck' on their marriage.
Close
Kangana Ranaut claims a smear campaign is being run against her and she knows the mastermind behind it.
Kangana Ranaut claims a smear campaign is being run against her and she knows the mastermind behind it.

Kangana describes man she feels is running smear campaign against her

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 09:26 PM IST
  • Kangana Ranaut took to Twitter and dropped a vague description of a man who she believes is running a social media smear campaign against her.
Close
Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal announced their first joint production venture.
Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal announced their first joint production venture.

Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal announce first production Girls Will Be Girls

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 09:14 PM IST
Actor couple Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal announced their first joint production - Girls Will Be Girls. The film will be directed by debutante filmmaker Shuchi Talati.
Close
Parineeti Chopra plays the eponymous role in Saina.
Parineeti Chopra plays the eponymous role in Saina.

Saina director Amol Gupte defends ‘high concept poster’ against criticism

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 08:29 PM IST
Amol Gupte defended the poster of Saina, which was criticised over what appeared to be a factual inaccuracy. The film is based on the life of badminton champion Saina Nehwal and stars Parineeti Chopra in the lead role.
Close
Swara Bhasker slammed a man who made an unsavoury comment about her being featured on the cover of a magazine.
Swara Bhasker slammed a man who made an unsavoury comment about her being featured on the cover of a magazine.

Swara Bhasker hits back at man for 'Nallasopara' remark about her magazine cover

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:36 PM IST
  • Swara Bhasker lashed out at a man who made an unsavoury comment about her being on the cover of Vogue magazine. She called him a "pretentious half-wit pretending to be ‘elite’".
Close
Janhvi Kapoor in Roohi.
Janhvi Kapoor in Roohi.

Roohi director on Janhvi Kapoor's 'palat' scene: 'Our chudail is filmy'

PTI
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 06:55 PM IST
Roohi director Hardik Mehta said that he subverted the twisted neck trope of horror films and gave it a DDLJ twist. The film stars Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma.
Close
Yami Gautam with Ayushmann Khurrana in Bala.
Yami Gautam with Ayushmann Khurrana in Bala.

Yami Gautam exclaims 'Oh God' at UP woman divorcing her bald husband

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 06:28 PM IST
Yami Gautam has reacted to the news reports of a woman from Uttar Pradesh, who has filed for divorce from her bald husband. This was also the story of a character she played in Bala.
Close
Aparshakti Khurana: I hope OTTs don’t become corrupt and redundant
Aparshakti Khurana: I hope OTTs don’t become corrupt and redundant

Aparshakti Khurana: I hope OTTs don’t become corrupt and redundant

By Juhi Chakraborty
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 05:46 PM IST
Actor Aparshakti Khurana hopes that OTT platforms won’ ‘fade out’, as an audience adds we don’t want ‘too much of it’.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP