Skip to main content

#MovieReview - Stree: More Glib than Ghoulish

Bollywood's track record of horror films is not much to write about. The Ramsay Brothers' body of work in this genre is the most popular and also extremely cringe worthy - the ghouls are more likely to make you laugh than cower in fear. However, to be fair, the filmmakers worked with shoestring budgets and the VFX age had not dawned yet. The Ramsays have their die-hard fans till date, if only for their campy style and absurd plotlines.

So when Stree (released in 2019) was billed as a horror-comedy, I was a little skeptical about it. Soon critics and fans alike were raving about it and it became one of those 'sleeper hits'. Recently, thanks to streaming channels, I had the opportunity to watch it and here is my review.

Stree (Woman) has an interesting premise. A small town is haunted by a female ghost who only kidnaps men during the three nights of a festival that is celebrated annually. All the men avoid going out at night and to counter the evil powers of the ghost have the words "O Stree, please come tomorrow" painted on the outside walls of their houses. The words are painted with a "ghost-repelling" mixture. The invitation to 'come tomorrow' is a quirky take on Indian behaviour of welcoming even unwanted guests to their homes. These quirky touches do add an element of refreshing humour. The lead actor (played by Rajkumar Rao) essays the role of a small-town ladies tailor with tremendous panache. In fact, the role seems to be an extension of another character he played in Bareilly Ki Barfi where he was a shop-assistant in a saree shop.

The most interesting thing about this film is how it up-ends the stereotypical associations -- instead of damsels in distress you have men at the mercy of a woman ghost. This instantly cues in humour and there is a situation when the men have to dress up as women to avoid the clutches of this blood thirsty spirit. However, the humour is inconsistent and relies mostly on some snappy dialogue and great acting by the immensely talented cast of characters.

But where the film flounders is the plot development and the loose screenplay. References to patriarchy, status of women in society, all of which find play in the story, could have been more satirical and spoof-ish but end up serving the plot in a convenient and superficial manner. The entire backstory of how the lead character's mother was a fallen woman and hence not acceptable to society is dealt with in a couple of scenes in a most lackadaisical manner. Perhaps the biggest flaw is the lame ending. The story ends on a pretty bizarre note -- the ghost ends up exorcising itself. Seems like the filmmakers were bent on fulfilling their promise of  a story "based on a ridiculously true phenomenon".



Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Comments

  1. Nice to go through this review, i was about to watch this movie and now ill definitely watch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The actors are superb and the small town setting quite appealing!The ending, I found it bizarre too and I quite enjoyed their dependence on the "spirited-damsel"! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deepa. Thanks for reading. :) Haha, spirited spirit indeed! :)

      Delete

Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

Understanding the Business of Writing

Welcome to Week U of Authors' Tips - A to Z of Writing.  If this is the first time you're visiting this series, here's a quick recap: Authors share their tips on writing fiction and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This week, I focus on Understanding the Business of Writing. Read on... and don't forget to share your thoughts in the comment box. Get this straight all you aspiring writers. Writing is a business. For those who think it's your passion that fuels your writing and will do so for the next 5,10 or 15 years... here's a little reality check. Two years after you have poured your blood, sweat and tears into your debut fiction novel and found no publisher wanting to publish it, the passion will shrivel up and die very soon. Sure, you might be the one-in-a-million breakthrough writer to find a publisher who is willing to sign you up for a three-series book deal and a six figure advance. A second scenario, and a more li

Niche Markets in Romance Writing

Welcome to Week N of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing. If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap. Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This week it's time to take a closer look at Niche Markets  A few weeks ago I'd posted about the importance of knowing your Genre as it helps readers to discover your books. A genre like Romance -- which incidentally is the top selling category -- has more than 100-plus sub-categories. These are often called 'niches', a marketing jargon for specialist sub-categories. While some of the more popular ones like romantic suspense, chicklit, paranormal romance, historical romance, etc. are evergreen favourites, as reading preferences evolve, new niches emerge from time to time. For instance, a few years back the super-duper success of E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey sparked off a new niche of BDSM within the sub-genre

#7Lives is now streaming on Amazon Prime US and UK

  If I'm absolutely honest I'm often discouraged by just how difficult the screenwriting journey is. Staying positive over months and years, slogging away at scripts, pitching producers and agents and dealing with rejections can be exhausting. I have often been tempted to throw in the towel. What has stopped me from doing it?  Well, the sheer compulsion of writing a story that's visual and visceral. 7 Lives was one such script. It is based on the true story of a young girl whose parents want to overcome the pain of losing their most precious daughter by remembering her in a way that would give meaning to her life and theirs. They wanted to donate her organs but alas their wish was never to be fulfilled.  When Runjiv J Kapur, my filmmaker friend, approached me to write the script based on this story for a short film, I was excited but also a bit scared. Would I be able to do justice to the story? For me, 7 Lives will always be special. Not only because it was a subject that