Stree musketeers

Daniyal Zahid believes ‘Stree’ is one of the most entertaining films this year

Stree musketeers
Bollywood has had a scary relationship with the horror genre. Comedy, however, has been the go-to for a large chunk of filmmakers desiring box office numbers, with a wide gamut of humour brands having hogged the screens.

Comedy-horror would appear to be a recipe for disaster for Indian movies. This is primarily because almost all of the Bollywood movies of the horror genre are unintentionally funny and usually the only folks that are scared to death are the producers.

And so, for not only a Bollywood film to traverse those waters, but loudly announce it as such as well, was a brave move. But it’s one that Stree manages to pull off against the odds.

What makes Stree an absolute trailblazer in addition to the genre merger that it has fearlessly pursued is the unconventional structure of the film itself. So while the small-town horror folklore is there, the manner of its narration is prodigiously different from what one would usually expect.

Since the genre is comedy-horror, it isn’t really supposed to scare you to the gut. What it definitely does is create the aura that is required for a horror film, even if its main selling point is the laughter

Amidst Durga Puja in Chanderi a female spirit driven by vengeance appears to hunt down men. Stree, as she is called throughout the town, clearly has some unfinished business in the area and is looking to fulfill it with Chanderi’s men being the collateral damage. However, Stree is easily warded off by simply messages on the walls asking her to ‘come back the next day’.

Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) is a ‘magically gifted’ tailor, who prepares flawless dresses for the ladies. One day a previously unknown and even suspiciously anonymous client (Shraddha Kapoor) comes to him with an urgent order. Vicky falls for her charm and beauty, with his close friends Bittu (Aparshakti Khurrana) and Jana (Abhishek Banerjee) asking him to be careful, given what is happening elsewhere in town.

Matters become serious when Stree strikes a party of Vicky’s friends. Even so, Vicky doesn’t pay heed to any warnings and is lured into a secluded part of the jungle. And then Stree strikes again…

Without naming the characters and thus saving you spoilers, a three-person witch hunt begins: the Stree musketeers if you will. Among these is Rudra (Pankaj Tripathi) who is an expert in dealing with supernatural beings.

The film might have its fair share of flaws, but a lack of entertainment definitely isn’t one of them. What are clear strengths of Stree are its writing and performances, with some of the punchiest dialogues delivered masterfully by the actors.

Given its genre, the film’s ability to make you laugh was always going to be critical. That it manages effortlessly. And since the genre is comedy-horror, it isn’t really supposed to scare you to the gut. What it definitely does is create the aura that is required for a horror film, even if its main selling point is the laughter.

That of course was only possible owing to the stupendous performances led as dependably as ever by Rajkummar Rao, for whom one can often run out of superlatives. This is also true for PankajTripathi, who continues to depict why he is one of the best supporting actors in the business.

Aparshakti Khurrana and Abhishek Banerjee have also been given a chance to play important, and yet contrasting roles, with both of them giving solid showings.

Stree is yet another feather in the cap of Shraddha Kapoor, who continues to do a diverse array of roles to continued success. This one might not be that one challenging role that she’s yet to do, but it continues to build the foundation for her to work hard and aim for it in the future.

Stree, without a shadow of a doubt, is one of the most entertaining films of the year. Little wonder that a sequel has already been announced, even though it was pretty obvious given the film’s ending.