This film is set in the small town of Gwalior and Vrindavan and the whole premise hinges on the “Modern Concept” of LIVE-IN.
The hero is TV News Anchor on a Local News Network where the heroine also starts interning after graduating from Delhi. Her father is a right-wing neta, dead against Live-In relationships and is the protector of Bhartiya Sanskriti. The pair fall in love and the only condition by the heroine is the she wants to live-in before they take the final plunge.
And this very demand takes them to Gwalior, pestered by nosy aunty and sneaky neighbours before being caught by the hero’s relatives and the confusion ensues. From the falsehood about their marriage to the failed attempts in actually getting married with each other haggled on by their relatives.
The star cast starting from Karthik Aaryaan, Kirti Sanon, to the colourfully dressed Pankaj Tripathi, to the Neta/Father Vinay Pathak and the side kick of the hero Aparshakti Khurana play their parts well. So does the ensemble of actors playing the relatives. The songs in the first half seemed forced and unnecessary. And the real peppy song like Coca-Cola gets wasted in the end credits and Poster Chapwa wasn’t there only. That’s certainly unfair.
Movies set in small towns seem to be flavour of the season for Bollywood. So like this genre there is situational comedy, relatives with their own quirkiness, use of local dialect, shot on real location etc. These movies are like the millennium versions of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chaterjee’s films.
What works for me in the movie is the lead pair and their easiness and some of the scenes are really funny. The movie doesn’t real offer anything new what the movies from this genre haven’t offered earlier. But it doesn’t disappoint either.
One of the sadhus when asked about his take on LIVE-IN says “प्रेम है तो सब पवित्र है”, and in another there is this line “मुस्लिम हूँ एलियन नहीं”, with some interesting writing this one is light-breezy film, fulfilling the entertainment quotient for the weekend.
I remember seeing the first look of this movie ages back in which Rajkumar Rao is seen wearing a wedding turban and I thought this movie is going to be similar to the films being based in small town India. Well I was right about that one but the movie was nothing like what I had seen earlier.
This film is about a small town – Chanderi that is haunted by a witch who abducts and kills men during an annual four day festival leaving behind just the clothes of the victim. The only remedy to this problem is to stay indoors in the night with a message for the STREE i.e. The Witch written on the walls of each house of this town. Like all the small town movies there is this protagonist played by Rajkumar Rao, his buddies, some unusual characters thrown in mouthing hilarious dialogues and then there is this mystery woman played by Shradha Kapoor for whom our hero is besotted by.
The film is scary and also left me splits in most parts especially the scenes when the village’s Mr. Know-it-all played brilliantly by Pankaj Tripathi is trying to find ways to get rid of that witch. We also have a friend of the hero who gets possessed by the witch and how he is being contained.
The movie belongs to Rajkumar Rao who has graduated from being a Saree salesman in Bariely Ki Barfi to a Ladies Tailor in this film and whose clientele is spread across nearby 3-4 towns so we are told. Only he has the skill set to play this small town simpleton with such earnest. He is cocky, goofy and funny in the film. He nails it when he is asked to show love towards STREE and despite being shit scared he looks into her eyes and tries to woo her in Shahrukh’s trademark style. There is this another scene in which his father tries talking to him about the adulthood and rising hormones.
STREE is brilliant example how clever and funny writing and brilliant ensemble cast can lift a plot that may seem wafer thin but when put all together delivers a great film watching experience.
TRIVIA – We were seated in a row where there were a couple on both sides of our seats. One was busy clicking selfies and holding each other’s hands (No, I didn’t witness anything more) and the other couple made me feel as if I was in an echo chamber as they were repeating / pre-empting all the brilliant dialogues. This so reminded me of the good old days of single screen theatres in Udaipur, only thing missing was the company of cats/rats and the samosas.