Roohi Movie Review: Full Story of Roohi Movie

Roohi Movie review

Roohi Movie Review

In one of the many promotional

interviews for Roohi,

director Hardik Mehta said that his lead actor Rajkummar Rao

described him to his lead actress Janhvi Kapoor,

as the “guy who knows all about world cinema

but has the heart of Govinda.”

That seems about right.

Hardik was a script supervisor on Vikramaditya

Motwane’s Lootera and Trapped.

He’s made the terrific National Award-winning

documentary Amdavad Ma Famous.

His first feature Kaamyaab, was such

a winning ode to the Hindi film sidekick

that Shah Rukh Khan came on board as a co-producer.

Roohi seemed like a solid next step –

a bigger budget, A-list stars

and a world that had already been successfully set up by director

Amar Kaushik and writers Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK in Stree.

This had the potential to be all sorts of sparkling.

Instead, Hardik’s distinct sensibility has been

flattened out by a film that wants to juggle many balls –

horror, comedy, feminist messaging,

a love triangle, a bromance –

but ends up dropping almost all of them.

Like Raj and DK, Roohi writers Mrighdeep Singh Lamba

and Gautam Mehra also go back to folklore.
Once again, we are in small-town India.

Once again, there is a chudail - she is a mudiya pairi,

which means her feet are backward.

Rajkummar and Varun Sharma

play Bhaura and Kattanni,

childhood friends who occasionally

dabble in pakdai shaadi.

They kidnap women and force them into marriage.

One day, they pick up the wrong girl.

Or girls.

Roohi also contains within her Afzaa,

who is described as Lady Hulk and Godzilli.

At one point, Bhaura says about her:

Woh ladki hai, koi dual sim ka mobile thodi na.

Truthfully, I didn’t understand why

Roohi has come to be like this.

Incidentally, the small town is fictional and the dialects

we hear are a liberal mash-up of many states.

But that is the least of this film’s problems.

The film tries to continue in the tradition of feminist horror

forged by films like Pari, Stree and Bulbbul.

Mrighdeep and Gautam use Roohi’s story to deliver a message

of self-acceptance and finding your inner strength.

The ending is terrific.

I suspect it’s the reason

why the film was made.

But to get there, we must endure a screenplay

that borders on incoherence –

there are tantrik babas, exorcism, passages of love

and longing, a smiling foreigner shooting a documentary

and a villainous boss, played by Manav Vij,

who seems as dazed by the plot as we are.

Snatches of Hindi film songs

are used to create comedy –

at one point, Sagar Jaisi Aankhon Wali plays –

and of course, there’s the

DDLJ palat scene.

Implanting a visual from The Exorcist on one of

Hindi’s cinema’s most iconic romantic moments

is perhaps the most innovative joke in this film.

Rajkummar and Janhvi go

at their parts with gusto.

Rajkummar tries to make Bhaura

different from Vicky in Stree

but the Chanderi ka Manish Malhotra

casts a long shadow.

And Bhaura has so little to work with.

His get up – the highlighted hair, heart pendant,

which matches his red shoes

and his denim jacket which has zalzala emblazoned behind –

seems more thought through than his character.

The writing also trips up Janhvi

who is convincing in both avatars

but trapped in scenes that lead nowhere.

And I think Varun’s unique brand of comedy

is starting to feel tired.

The actor really needs to stretch beyond

the expressions which have made him famous.

There are flashes when you see

the film that Roohi might have been –

so, early on in the film, Roohi is demolishing

these platefuls of food,

a little detail that just gets lost

in the cacophony.

The idea that Kattanni falls in love with

a chudail also had delicious possibilities –

I wanted to know what enables him

to see beyond her bloodthirsty exterior.

But none of this emerges.

What you get is three characters

circling each other in a forest.

And that gets dull pretty quickly.

Roohi is playing at a theatre near you.

Don't forget to wear a mask!