Stree was the smart stuff, Ruhi seems to be haphazard fare. Comparisons were made to the crop, the only reason that the makers made the Ruhi is because they struck gold with the stree. Blending in humor seemed so easy to horror. Apparently it is not, you realize looking at Ruhi.
It doesn’t take you long to understand why Ruhi slips, despite having one main idea that could be molded into a winner. The film lacks an imaginative story. Stree, written by Raj and DK, strikes a fine balance, presenting the daisy sub-genre of horror comedy, as well as a social commentary without getting preachy about it.
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In contrast, Ruhi writers Mrigdeep Singh Lamba (he wrote and directed Fukrey films) and Gautam Mehra clash from the beginning. Some of the good jokes are sporadic, the jokes are not jumpy enough, the mix of fear and slap seems half-baked, and the ‘message’ is not what you would like a mainstream entrant to be.
The place of message is ‘Pakai Shaadi’, or the practice of forcibly marrying girls. A ‘Firangi’ journalist (Alexax O’Neal) arrives in Baghdpur village. He wants to do a ‘Thanedar’ film like this, and so he ties the ropes to Bhura (Rajkumar Rao) and Kattani (Varun Sharma) for help.
The girl they choose is Ruhi (Janhvi Kapoor), apparently she is a soul. It soon becomes clear that Ruhi is not at all normal. The narrative sets a bizarre tingle of love from this point that must be regained. It sounds like a scary entertainment quotient, but does not, despite an initial promise to build on. The film never really comes alive.
Hardik Mehta appeared last year under the direction of writing and OTT-Girai film Kamayab, and then collaborated on the web series Patal Lok as a screenwriter. With Roohi, Mehta remembers his ability to connect his audience in ways that he had done with earlier efforts. Ruhi simply fails to intrigue. You are feeling that Mehta is off the mark, which he has decided with this scale.
Once it tries to keep going, the narrative often drives ideas on how to maintain interest and stocks. When all the reasons for the film coming into existence have ended, a strange twist ends the story. All this is supposed to take into account an overall sloppy effort from time to time (highlighted by the dull edits of Huzaffa Lokhandwala). The ban of a horror film is its complete inability to leave a lasting impression.
It boils down to the performers, for whom the ticketed audience will mainly venture into the hall, posing a threat to Kovid. Rajkummar Rao tries to break out of a poorly-scripted role as he expects (as most buffers will identify Rohi as the new horror comedy starring Rao after Stree). Varun Sharma manages to be the most entertaining among the cast members, his comic timing underscoring some of the main moments of an otherwise incompetent film.
Janhvi Kapoor becomes bored when she is a shy girl Ruhi, and when she has to act ghostly, she becomes a burden on prosthetics. His best bits in this film are his two dance numbers, Nadian Pyaar and Pangat, which you may have already seen on the tube or on social media. She peeks into both dances, reminding that she has slightly enhanced Sridevi’s magic.
Sad for Janhvi, there is an entire 134-minute film going on beyond her two dances, which does not include much.
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