The law of diminishing returns applies to chudails too is a lesson that one takes home after watching Roohi. Shadi, shadi, shadi – binding a woman’s fate is one harsh truth, which is prevalent in rural areas. What happens to a girl as she waits for her ultimate dream to come true is the plot for this comedy of horrors, which is replete with witty dialogues, endearing expressions of love and a kaleidoscope of a world where laws cannot overrule riwaz (customs).
Set in a sub-urban town where pakadai vivah (kidnap marriage) are still a norm, two friends Bhawra (Rajkummar Rao) and Kattanni (Varun Sharma) end up kidnapping a girl Roohi (or Afza), played by Janhvi Kapoor, on their boss’ behest. A love triangle ensues. The plot is dotted with interesting characters – a wedding facilitator Gujiya Shakeel (Manav Vij), who is quite a fan of ‘fit cross; and crime reporter Bhawra, who dreams of his own prime time show. The desire to succeed in life and love brings nagin dance and zombie act together.
In two-hour-and-fifteen-minutes, the Jai and Veeru of Roohi keep the audience regaled with their silly banter. One meets the bhoot, sorry mudiya chudail, pretty early in the film and she keeps you company till the last scene. Watching Roohi don the Afza avatar every few minutes, one rather warms up to her, not getting startled despite the eerie background score. In fact, music too frequently changes track, from sinister to romantic to retro, depending on who is on screen – lovelorn Bhawra or smitten Kattanni. What works for Roohi is the consummate act by Rajkummar Rao, ably supported by Varun Sharma, Alexx O’Nell and Sarita Joshi. Janhvi fares fine. What tops is the VFX– the changing of personas is seamless. Dialogues leave the audience in splits. Cinematography gets its due as the tall trees, flowing stream, dreamy mist make for the perfect setting for romance. Since it comes from the makers of Stree, one has high hopes, in terms of story, execution and message. In the last 15 minutes, the crescendo builds but does it do justice to the theme is a debatable matter. Would our heroine Roohi (or Afza) choose one of the grooms waiting to fulfil her ‘bahurani’ dreams? Since we cannot divulge that here; we can safely say it makes a case, even if not a compelling one, for women empowerment.
One-time watch, more comedy than horror.
Director: Hardik Mehta
Cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Varun Sharma, Alexx O’Nell,