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Janhvi Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao in a still from <i>Roohi</i>.
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Review: Rajkummar and Janhvi’s ‘Roohi’ Has More Lows Than Highs

Review of Rajkummar Rao, Janhvi Kapoor, Varun Sharma-starrer Roohi.

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Movie Reviews
3 min read

Review: Rajkummar Rao and Janhvi’s ‘Roohi’ Has More Lows Than Highs

We’ll invariably think of Stree while watching Roohi. For one the theme is similar. A churail leaving a bunch of scared men in her wake, the horror comedy genre. Also, both have Dinesh Vijan as the producer and Rajkummar Rao as the main man, fending for himself against the supernatural. It may look like they have been cut from the same cloth but that’s where the similarities end. While the performances and witty writing kept the proceedings buoyant in Stree, with Roohi the familiarity to the arc, predictability in telling and an expectedness about the gags are off-putting .

The opening few minutes of Roohi help to establish context. We are familiarised with the concept of “pakdayi vivah” where women are abducted and forcibly married off. In the film, it’s Bhawra Pandey (Rajkummar) and Kattani (Varun Sharma) who nab such young girls as and when they are ordered around by their boss Gujiya Shakeel (Manav Vij) and their latest victim is Roohi (Janhvi Kapoor).

Janhvi Kapoor in <i>Roohi.</i>
Janhvi Kapoor in Roohi.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Now, mainstream Bollywood has been churning out stuff in the name of horror which end up tickling our funny bone. Here, of course the laughs are deliberately intended for us. But they are few and far between. All familiar horror films tropes are added - from flickering lights to the creaking doors and churails and her “ulte paav” to dizzying sound effects. But there is a staleness to the act and one can’t help but think of how Stree did the same thing and did it better.

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Rajkummar is pitched in a shrill territory and seems to have walked in straight from the sets of Ludo. Varun is once again yet another variation of his ‘Choocha’ character from Fukrey. But even though we have seen him do the same thing multiple times, his portions here negotiating Roohi and the the scary rooh, which seems to have possessed her are still the only ones that make us laugh out the loudest. Janhvi plays a quivering ingenue, who soon has bloodshot eyes and cracked skin as she scales up walls. She tries hard but is still the most comfortable when grooving to a dance number right at the end as the end credits roll. Somehow, Hardik Mehta of Kaamyaab fame is unable to keep a hold on the narrative and post interval there is very little to hold our attention .

Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma in <i>Roohi.</i>
Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma in Roohi.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

For all its alternating jump scare moments and slapstick humour, Roohi apparently wants to make a larger feminist point. I’m using the word ‘apparently’ because yours truly is still confused about what exactly they wanted to convey. The message probably is that a woman doesn’t need a man to rescue her, or self-love and acceptance is supreme but it’s so convoluted that one doesn’t know what to make of it. For a film like this, it’s the easy laughs that one would ideally want to go for, but the narrative has more lows than highs. By the end of it, the screeching churail becomes almost inaudible and we are left to join the dots ourselves. Not the best way to end things.

Rating: 2 Quints out of 5

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