Movie Review – Stree

Stree is the best movie of 2018. #moviereview
Movie Review – Stree

I am a big Rajkummar Rao fan. He never disappoints as an actor and delivers more than his viewers expect. So whenever a new movie of his releases, I make it a point to watch it in theatre.

Last Sunday, we went to watch Stree – it’s a horror, comedy. Now, the last horror movie that I had watched on the big screen was Ram Gopal Verma’s Bhoot, which I am sure you will admit is one of the last movies of RGV that proved genius of that man. I am not a big fan of horror movies and mostly close my eyes and cover my ears while watching them. But a horror with comedy plus Rajkummar Rao was too much for me to ignore.

So, about the movie – Stree. In a small town of Chander (famous for its Chanderi silk), outside every home it’s written in bold red paint – O Stree, kal aana (O Woman, come tomorrow!). This town is held captive by a mysterious woman called Stree who is actually a hag, who in the night calls men by their name and when the man turns abducts them leaving nothing their clothes behind. The funny part is she makes a visit only during the four days of an annual religious festival. No man is safe during those nights and are forbidden from venturing after dark all alone .

Rajkummar Rao aka Vicky is a brilliant ladies tailor. He pooh-poohs the whole Stree thing calling it nothing but a small town superstition. The next day, he is met with a mysterious girl (Shraddha Kapoor) who asks him to stitch some clothes for him. Vicky is spellbound by this beautiful girl wanting to be friends with him. On the 2nd night of the four day festival, a very close friend of Vicky is abducted by the hag. Vicky and his other friends (Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Bannerjee and Pankaj Tripathi) including the beautiful girl (who has some knowledge of witchcraft) vow to find the hag. They make a clever plan to defeat the hag and release all the men she has abducted.

Will they be able to overpower the hag? Who is this mysterious girl who is seen only during the four days of festival? Will the town ever be free from the curse?

Find out by watching Stree.

Of late, stories about small towns are doing well. Stree is also based in one such small town with its typical local dialect that is bound to tickle your funny bones. For instance, you will step out of the movie remembering and chuckling at the terms like ‘swayam sevi’ and ‘naye Bharat ki chudail’. But, don’t forget that it is primarily a horror movie with its nerve wrecking moments. So there will be moments when your heart skips a beat or two and then there are some where you will laugh so hard as to literally pee in your pants.

However, in the climatic moments, the movie does wobble a bit and spreads itself a little too thin. Also, the same age-old tips and tricks of stabbing a ghost in the heart do disappoint you some.

Stree between the scares and gags touches upon a few gender related issues, especially misogyny and chauvinism. A woman is often objectified and doesn’t receive the same respect in the society as a man does. In this story, the roles are reversed – when the men are abducted, they feel the same fear of safety and suffocation that a woman experiences in her day to day life. However, for being a film emphasising on gender equality, the item song ‘Kamariya’ with Nora Fatehi seems hypocritical.

For Rajkummar Rao I have only one word – Brilliant. He is a talented actor and keeps you on the edge of the seat with his focused yet effortless performance. Shraddha Kapoor, though in a limited role, has not only matched her co-actor’s skills but has also proved she is one of the finest actresses in the B-town. Apart from these, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Bannerjee and Pankaj Tripathi give a performance to remember in their own uniquely droll ways.

The excellent lighting, the camera movements, the sound and the editing swing between spine chilling and absurd moments and keep the viewers on the edge of the seat.

This movie will make you sit forward, jump back in your seat and shudder with cold fear. And then will make you laugh with its deadpan comedy.

Verdict – Stree is the best experimental horror cum comedy movie of 2018. Watch Stree even if it is the only movie you will watch this year.

Image credit: DNA India

Movie Review – Haider

I sat for 50 minutes staring at my computer screen before I could write a word. I didn’t know where to start or what to write. The movie ‘Haider’ has that effect on you. It’s a rare film, something you might have never come across.

Movie Review - Haider

In the mid-90s when the militancy had surged in the beautiful Kashmir valley, we see a surgeon, Dr. Hilal Meer saving the life of a militant. He gets caught and disappears to one of the various secretive camps allegedly run by the Indian Army. His young son Haider (Shahid Kapoor) returns home only to find that not only his father has disappeared but also his mother Gazala (Tabu), who is now a half-widow (that’s what a wife of a disappeared man is called), instead of being devastated is finding solace in the arms of her brother-in-law Khurram Meer (Kay Kay Menon). Haider wants to know the real truth about his father – whether he is alive or dead. In his journey, he meets some interesting people, some of which are his genuine well-wishers while some are conspirators. Is he able to find the truth? Does he realize who is by his side and who is not? They are difficult questions; you need to watch the movie to find that out.

Shahid Kapoor as Haider has done a tremendous job. He has played various nuances in the film and played them effortlessly. I couldn’t have thought of a better Haider. His emotions as a confused, helpless, grieving, obsessed, insane and violent son have been laid bare for all to see. Tabu is the heart of the film. The beautiful ‘Mojhi’ of Haider is a complex woman. She is not your regular widow who howls and cries herself to death; she is a temptress and a woman searching for love and fulfillment of desires. But she is also a mother who lives for her son and can go to any lengths to save him. Kay Kay Menon has done a convincing job but he is getting stereotyped in his bad-ass roles. Irrfan Khan as Roohdar sets the wheels in motion with his short but important role. Shraddha Kapoor (Arshia) plays a journalist and also the love interest of Haider. Though a short role, she has delivered a powerful performance.

But the actual hero of the movie is the script that is jointly written by Vishal Bharadwaj and Kashmiri journalist-author Basharrat Peer. The movie is an adaption of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and portrays a strong story of trust and betrayal. It has black elements to it, particularly the scene where grave-diggers are shown digging the graves and lying inside them as it were the most normal thing to do. The dialogues are power-packed. Words are used with care and thought; there is no scope for frivolity. There are a few lighter moments  though like the Salman Khan fanboys and ill-pronounced English words by Arshia. Every scene looks like a picture frame, so beautiful and full of life. On the minuses, the length of the film gets to you, especially in the second half; the film loses its thread a bit and lowers its pace. Also, certain gory scenes could have been avoided. However, the climax of the film is completely unimaginable and leaves you shocked.

The film hooks you from the moment it starts. If you thought it was just another film on Kashmir insurgency, have another think coming. The film passes a strong message, but it is done subtly too. If you get it, good for you! If not, well, then good for you! The landscape is the same, the people have changed. The beauty is the same, the beholders have changed. It must be the first Indian film that doesn’t malign Pakistan. On the contrary, it targets closer home; the Indian Army that heaps down atrocities on the Kashmiri citizens.

Caution: Watch the movie at your risk. It might haunt you, forever.

Verdict: Such films don’t come every day. You might not want to miss it.