This word, this idea and this movement, brings about a multitude of reactions depending on your conditioning (or learning). Businessmen and women including film makers have used it to sell their products. In the recent past, various Indian films have sparkled evocative speeches about women’s agency presented as harangue. Often these seem forced. Stree manages to deliver this moment without the unnecessary lecturing. It reflects how a courtesan is judged in a small Indian town but does so along some hilarious comic scenes and a few horror moments.
This film is about a ghoul played by Shraddha Kapoor. She is active only 4 days a year during a festival to avenge her wrongful death. While, she targets men only, she is one progressive being. She understands consent and takes it very seriously. She can read too. But if men are tempted to her seductive voice, she takes them along leaving behind their clothes only.
Our hero played by Rajkummar Rao is a jaunty tailor, who can take cloth size by looking at women. By his own admission, he is a modern bloke and doesn’t follow the rituals of the past. Stree solicits his help to get a dress made. They grow close but his friends played by Aparshakti Khurana and Abhishek Banerjee suspect Stree of being Stree. The wonderful Pankaj Tripathi as the local knows it all, also comes in the story trying to untangle this grid and save the men of the locality from the ills of Stree. How can one do that? Why did she befriend the hero of our film? What does she really want? Watch the film to find out.
Raj Kumar Rao is on point as usual playing this small town Indian boy. Shraddha Kapoor is a bit hit and miss for me as the ghoul. In parts, she has to be stoical but in other scenes she has to show real emotion. She only delivers in the later part. The rest of the cast is pretty decent, especially the ever bankable Pankaj Tripathi. Being a horror film, the background score was loud and more. On places I found it to be excessively showy. Amar Kaushik’s story telling is quite precise especially in the 2nd half of the film, but the background score jars your brain.
Stree was sold to us a horror comedy, like Golmaal Again (or 4). However, Stree has more to offer. The idea of respect, comes to the fore. It is a fun watch, with a relatively subtle message. After watching Fanney Khan, I was wondering why Raj Kumar Rao signed that film. In contrast, there are rumour that he has signed for Stree sequel. Good times ahead!