Roohi Review: Rajkummar Rao, Varun Sharma make up for unclear storytelling; Janhvi Kapoor is decent
Directed by Hardik Mehta
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Varun Sharma, Janhvi Kapoor
Streaming: In Theatres
Bubble Movie Ratings:
Dinesh Vijan’s second film Roohi in the horror-comedy is more comedy than horror. Roohi stars Rajkummar Rao, Varun Sharma, and Janhvi Kapoor in a fictitious land where bride kidnapping is a thing and ‘Mudiya Pair’ (literally meaning Chudial) walks around like she is taking an easy-peasy stroll and is very filmy. Roohi is precedented by Stree, the first in the universe which shattered many records. But don’t make the mistake of walking into the theatres expecting another Stree. Roohi [played by Janhvi Kapoor] has its path and soul and has an independent approach. This is also the first time Kapoor will be seen in a dual role that of Roohi and Afza (the mudiya pair) whose end goal is to get married.
Based in Bhaggadpur, Bawra Pandey aka Rajkummar and Kathani aka Varun Sharma are faux local reporters who help in bride kidnapping ‘business’. For one of the assignments, they have to kidnap Roohi (Janhvi) only to be trapped in the never-ending loop of dual existence. While Bawra is slightly more rational and falls for the timid and beautiful Roohi, Kathani is enamoured by Afza who is bitten by a ‘filmy bug’. Then the hilarious struggle begins between the two friends who give us major ‘Jai-Veeru’ vibes throughout. Who finally gets the girl? Find out in the cinemas near you but be assured, the open-ended climax will leave you scratching your head for an appropriate answer, may I say once again (Remember, Stree?)
Director Hardik Mehta creates a world that is funny, filmy, and cliched, where the potential villain is intended to be hilarious and harmless, and it is his direction that keeps you partly interested. But unlike Stree, the film wastes too much time in establishing the plot. Even as we are halfway into the movie, there is no clarity on what is the director intending to show with the story.
What works for the film?
Big thumbs up to Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma. Their bromance is the biggest highlight of this Hardik Mehta directorial. Their comic timings are on point and are what makes the first half entertaining. There are genuine laughs we share right through the first half with Raj and Varun exhibiting some class show. They embodied their rural reporter role to the T with their dialogue delivery leaving no space for mistake. Not for once did they lose the accent or their body language.
Varun matched Rajkummar in each scene and together the duo is a house on fire. They are the saving grace for Roohi, truly. The dialogue writer’s clever use of mispronounced words and the near-perfect execution by Raj and Varun adds to the laughter. For example, Whatsapp is pronounced waitsap and it is convincing, that’s the power of good performance. Other than that, Alexx O’Nell and Sarita Joshi in supporting roles are left with very little to offer.
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What could have been better?
A lot of things, firstly the storytelling. A lot of the effort in the first half was made to make sure it is funny that the story is compromised. Janhvi Kapoor as Roohi and Afza was given very little space to do. With heavy prosthetics makeup on, the actress’s dialogues are hardly audible and understandable, as is her role. She is hardly there. There are particularly two scenes where Janhvi does a decent job there is an internal confrontation between Roohi and Afza as she floats in the air. But other than that, the writer did not leave much for Janhvi to do here.
But hey, you can also enjoy the songs at the beginning and end of the movie, Nadiyon Par and Panghat.
While the first half is entertaining, the second is equally bland. The climax lacks the vision and touch of Raj and DK. I truly was left disappointed with the storyline, Rajkummar and Varun’s performance does make it worth the while.