‘Roohi’: Possessed by inanity
Banal, inane and vapid, in a nutshell, ‘Roohi’ is nothing more than the infantilization of the idea of a single woman
Roohi has been pitched to the audience as a successor to the successful “feminist” horror comedy Stree. But it proves to be far from it. Much like the predecessor, it tries to invert the reality and frame it from a woman’s lens. So, as opposed to the practice of groom abduction prevalent in Bihar to cut down on the dowry costs, here you have pakdaayi shaadi in which young girls are kidnapped for marriage in the interiors of Uttar Pradesh — Musheerabad, Bagadpur, Ambiyapur — just because they have caught the fancy of men.
Bhanwra (Rajkummar Rao) and Kattani (Varun Sharma) are two crime reporters-cum-henchmen of a local don Guniya (Manav Vij) who end up kidnapping one such woman named Roohi (Janhvi Kapoor), only to find themselves caught in an unanticipated supernatural zone, a tangle of scary hauntings led by the unyielding mudiya pairi (a spirit with upturned feet).
While Stree, despite the fluff and inconsistencies, was eminently watchable, Roohi is unbearable to the core. There are absolutely no jump-from-the-seat moments, no chills-down-the-spine eeriness to justify the “horror” side of it. As far as comedy is concerned, there are barely any worthy gags and irreverent lines, only lame slapstick and jokes that fall flat.
Roohi is uninspired and hastily put together in every which way. The name dropping of UP small towns notwithstanding, there is absolutely no sense of place. There is not a single memorable character and the acting borders on either the mechanical or gratingly loud.
The hammy play with the dictions instantly reduces Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma to the level of random amateurs in some school play. On the other hand, Jahnvi Kapoor works overtime at playing docile and vulnerable with her forever quivering lips. The best thing about her performance are the prosthetics and VFX.
More than anything else, what riles the most in the film is the feminist construct so righteously thrust in towards the fag end, like an afterthought than something thought through the length and breadth of the script; The noble, showy whim of its makers than something they’d truly believe in.
Banal, inane and vapid, in a nutshell, Roohi is nothing more than the infantilization of the idea of a single woman. I would rather stay miles away, all alone, rather than seek its company.