With STREE, director Amar Kaushik brings a bizarrely refreshing film to the forefront of hindi cinema for a change. It is not a perfect film or great piece of art, and has its own limitations. But it works mostly because Kaushik is able to extract some very good performances out of all its lead actors, and also invests effort in some very intelligent writing to create quite a few genuinely hilarious and witty moments. The issue is that such moments come in and go inconsistently and hence do not leave the audience with a uniformly pleasant movie watching experience.
The big standout is the subversive satire that the film plays out sharply by inverting the narrative of the abuser and abused, and uses seamlessly blended organic comedy to deliver the same. Pankaj Tripathi is especially brilliant yet again, and when he is on screen, you just don’t watch anyone else. He is easily the best thing about the film. I so wish that he had far more screen time than what he eventually got and there was enough scope for that. Aparshakti Khurana and Abhishek Banerjee are in excellent form as well and match up to the comic timing of Tripathi effortlessly. They need to do more work. Shraddha Kapoor is surprisingly good, and at least ensures that the film is not pulled down because of her. And Rajkummar Rao adds another interesting role to his filmography. He owns his part confidently though it does feel that we have seen Vicky before with Pritam Vidrohi, and there are places where his effort begins to show up.
The major challenge then comes in form of the unevenness of the script. While it is hilarious at places, it also feels forced and lost at others and does not know where it wants to go. The horror tropes are also fairly lame and are possibly the weakest parts of the film. Then there is the length of the film that starts taking its toll after a point, and appears like a big drag towards the end, more so with its haywire and silly climax. Add to it the forgettable and totally unnecessary songs, plus a jarring background score in many places, and the rhythm of the film breaks far too often for it to remain nicely engaging at all times.
With all this and more, Stree is still possibly one of the most original films of the year and the effort should definitely be applauded for thinking outside the box and trying something new. In its current form, it is a decent one time watch, which is seeking your consent for success. After all for Stree, #YesMeansYes