It has been almost a year since theaters were asked to shut down due to the rapid rise in the cases of coronavirus in the country. The two films running in theaters at that time were Angrezi Medium, produced by Dinesh Vijan, and Kaamyaab, directed by Hardik Mehta. In an interesting turn of events, Roohi, the film which releases today and begins the movie watching season in theatres, is helmed by both these personalities. So does Roohi manage to entertain and thrill the audience? Or does it fail to entice? Let’s analyze.
Roohi is the story of a possessed girl. Bhavra Pandey (Rajkumar Rao) and Kattni Qureshi (Varun Sharma) work as crime journalists in the small town of Bagadpur. they are also experts ‘caught marriage’ Alias bride kidnapping is a trend in Bagadpur. One day, their boss, Guniya Shakeel (Manav Vij) orders them to kidnap a girl, Roohi (Janhvi Kapoor), from a nearby town, Mujriabad. Bhavra and Katni manage to kidnap Roohi while she is with her father (Rajesh Jais). According to ‘caught marriage’ Pratha, after the girl is kidnapped, she is taken straight to the wedding venue. Along with Ruhi, Bhavra and Katni should also follow suit. But after being kidnapped, Gunia calls them up and informs that the groom’s uncle has suddenly passed away. So now the wedding will take place a week later. Until then, Bhavra and Katni are asked to keep him as a hostage in an abandoned property in the hills of Ambiyapur. On the first night, Bhavra goes to give dinner to Ruhi, only to realize that she has. Katni, at first, doesn’t believe but later, she also sees the possessed side of Ruhi. However, instead of being horrified, Katni falls in love with possessed Ruhi. On the other hand, Bhavra falls in love with Ruhi. He decides to help her and get the witch out of her body. Katni however is against the idea as she is in love with Ruhi and if Bhavra succeeds, the witch will leave Ruhi forever. What happens next becomes the rest of the film.
The story of Mrigdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra is interesting and novel. Writers try their best to bring something new. Mrigdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra’s screenplay, however, is interesting only in parts. Some of the scenes are extraordinary and bring the house down. But the serious parts do not produce the desired effect. Mrigdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra’s dialogues are witty. But the quote is too authentic and incomprehensible in many places.
Hardik Mehta’s direction is excellent. On the plus side, he handles some scenes with Ellen. Also, he sets the mood, especially in horror scenes. Even the various towns depicted in the film are uniquely depicted. For example the custom of abducting the strange bride in Bagadpur, the scary hills of Ambiyapur and the custom of Desi The exorcism in Chimmatipur brings newness to the film. On the other hand, the climax is disappointing. The film also ends on a sudden note. There is an expectation that the makers will provide some backstory about Roohi’s past but it never happens. The same path was adopted in women , where the track of the mysterious girl (Shraddha Kapoor) ends on a cliff. In the case of Ruhi, it does not exert the same effect as that of a woman. Also, the trend here is quite confusing and the dialect is difficult to understand. The many dialogues are sure to be bouncers for many viewers.
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Roohi begins on an interesting note, depicting the concept of a bride kidnapping in Baghdpur, that too through the eyes of a foreign reporter (Alex O’Neal). The movie gets better once Bhavra and Katni kidnap Roohi and set up base in the spooky, abandoned factory. The scene where Bhavra tells Katni about Roohi will surely bring laughs. The scene where Katni, instead of running away, falls for Roohi, is unique and unexpected. It will bring smile on the face of the audience. The gap comes at an interesting juncture. After the hiatus, the film begins to fall apart, but especially the marriage with the dog and some scenes of Bhavra’s conversation with the old woman (Sarita Joshi) add to the humor and craziness. The climax, although unexpected, is disappointing.
Talking about the performance, Rajkummar Rao is on his own as expected. Because of his captivating performance, no one hates him, even though he plays a kidnapper in the film. And his comic timing is spot-on, especially in the scenes where he is running away from Roohi. Janhvi Kapoor is a big surprise. She hardly has any dialogue but with her gestures, she gets her acting right. And he is convincing as a witch too. Varun Sharma is amazing and manages to generate laughs. However, he doesn’t have much to do in the last 30 minutes. Manav Vij suits the role and his performance is fair. Sarita Joshi (credited as Padma Shri Sarita Joshi in the film) is hilarious and one wishes she had a longer screen time. Alex O’Neal is cute. Rajesh H Jais, Anurag Arora (Tantric), Sumit Gulati (Paras; Roohi’s groom in the end) are fine.
Sachin-Jigar’s music is apt for the film and its theme. ‘kiston’ Comes suddenly but is soulful. ‘Bhootni’ while hilarious ‘Panghat’ Played in the end credits. ‘Nadiyon Paar’ The film is attached with the print before the start of the film. This is LOT’s best song and shot well. I wish it was part of the story of the film. Ketan Sodha’s background score is well woven and contributes to the horror quotient as well.
Amalendu Choudhary’s cinematography is superb. Various locations have been captured well in the film. Aayushi Agarwal and Abhijeet Shrestha’s production design is quirky and adds to the eerie atmosphere. Thia Tekchandane’s costumes are realistic. Nikita Kapoor’s prosthetics are very convincing. Manohar Verma’s action is fine while Red Chillies. VFX of VFX is first class. Huzefa Lokhandwala’s editing is fine and could have been better and crisper in the first half.
Overall, Roohi rests on a unique concept, great performances and some interesting funny and scary scenes. However, the disappointing climax and difficult-to-understand dialect may affect the film’s prospects at the box office.