If you have followed the work of writer-director duo Raj and DK in Bollywood in the recent past you obviously do not need to look for more reasons to spend your hard earned money on their latest offering, Stree. They have stuck to just production and writing this time around but their brand of humor and quirky filmmaking is more than intact here. Unlike most Indian filmmakers who try to emulate Hollywood genre films the duo have always tried to put a delicious Bollywood spin to the most western of themes. They did it to the zombie genre with Go Gone Goa, gave us the slick spy action-comedy A Gentleman and now they have decided to give horror a most desi of twists. In Stree they have ventured into Anurag Kashyap territory, the North Indian hinterland, only gleefully.
Stree manages to make you laugh and scare you in equal measures successfully and that is no mean task, in fact its the most difficult thing to do cinematically. The movie is based on an urban legend, a ridiculously true one as the makers proclaim in writing on screen early on. Lending his creative energy in abundance to the brilliant writing is Raj Kumar Rao who has literally stretched every acting muscle in his body to the limit. His performance in the climactic showdown with the titular demon is worthy of an Oscar I’d say. Giving him ample support are Shradha Kapoor, Aparshakthi Khurrana,Pankaj Tripathi and Abhishek Banjerjee. Atul Shrivastava who plays father to Rajkumar’s character makes his mark too. Stree is one of those movies where you the viewer, at some point stops being just a viewer and becomes a part of the events that unfold on the screen. You are not watching a movie anymore, you are in fact hanging out with the characters and you love it so much so that you end up not wanting the movie to end.
Amar Kaushik has graduated from assistant to independent director with flying colors. Raj and DK have helped him deliver a slick yet intelligent debut film here. Strewn liberally across the are hilariously bold digs at the political situation in the country. They’re so subtle that you might actually miss it if you’re not listening intently. Some you might miss because it’s almost hidden in plain sight. One such joke that runs throughout movie is about motorcycles that run out of petrol constantly because people just can’t afford to fill up their tanks like they used to do. There’s one about how some people think peacocks reproduce. Another deadpan line asks you not to be a blind believer. That brings me to the fact that seeing and hearing is believing and believe me this is one movie which proves that despite Netflix and it’s clones watching movies in a packed house where people laugh out loud at the same jokes and jumps at the same scares is an experience in its own. You end up taking sides when you are watching sports. Cinema on the other hand brings people together like no other form of entertainment. Stree is that kind of cinema.