Roohi movie review: Rajkummar Rao-Varun Sharma's equation stands out in convoluted film, Janhvi Kapoor is average
After Amar Kaushik's 2018 film Stree emerged winner at the box office, and set new benchmark for horror comedies in Bollywood, it was to expect that the second offering from the same production should at least be equally good, if not better. Sadly, the latest release in the genre, Roohi, starring Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharm, is a rather drab attempt at trying to scare people while making them laugh. Neither of the two click.
With a plot that's too convoluted and takes the entire runtime of the film to establish itself, Roohi terribly falters at storytelling, and fails to give out the message it intends to. Even until the intermission, you can't make out the exact reasoning behind whatever is unfolding on screen. There's a scared young girl (Roohi played by Kapoor), who is possessed by a ghost and transforms, with extensive prosthetic makeup, into a screaming chudail, Afza. Well, no prize for guessing the intended pun in their names. Then there are two men - Rao as Bhawra Pandey and Sharma as Kattanni Qureshi --journalists and part time kidnappers in the quaint town in North India. They are hired by an entitled groom to abduct Roohi for a 'pakdai shaadi'. While the men do pull off a shoddy heist, they get a lot more trouble than what they had bargained for.
Watch the trailer for Roohi:
However, overtime (we mean in just a day), the men lose their hearts to the 'two-in-one' woman. While Sharma falls for Afza, Rao promises Roohi he'd help her get rid of the chudail. In all this, the script is laced with multiple superstitious beliefs, supernatural practices in small towns, and paranormal activities.
Before anything else, I seriously didn't understand the idea behind Kapoor's supposedly scary makeup. Imagine, in one of the scenes, the man Afza is getting married to, looks at her hands and exclaims, "Danger mehendi lagayi hai aapne". Even her dialogues as a ghost aren't heard clearly at all, hence leading to a bit of a difficulty in understanding her actual ordeal.
If it were not for Rao and Sharma's camaraderie, I don't think you can stand the film for more than 20 minutes. The comic timing of these two is the only saving grace. Their near perfect dialogue delivery is what gives us genuine laughs. At many places, with mispronounced words like waitsup (whatsapp), Kim Karadarshan (Kardashian), anchunt (ancient), horrorscope (horoscope) and exercise of Imli (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), you sense a clever play with words that add to the fun.
A special mention to Sharma who's given a tough competition to Rao, with his hilarious expressions and comical body language. Rao is decent but not as exceptionally good as he was in Stree. Kapoor, for some strange reason, despite being there in the entire film, doesn't really get her moments to shine. Other than the scene in which she she talks to the chudail side of Roohi, there isn't much that Kapoor brings to the table.
As supporting parts, Alexx O'Nell, Manav Vij and Sarita Joshi have very little to do and their character sketch are half-baked. Even though Hardik Mehta's direction manages to keep you intrigued, it's Mrighdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra's frail writing that doesn't let Roohi strike an instant chord.
If nothing else, the two dance numbers--Nadiyon Paar in the opening credits and Panghat at the end--could make Roohi worth your while.
Cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Varun Sharma
Direction: Hardik Mehta