In the midst of a dense forest, Kattanni (Varun Sharma) smitten by a possessed Roohi (Janhvi Kapoor), tells his partner in crime Bhaura (Rajkummar Rao), "Mujhe toh mohabbat ho ri bhai, Agar yeh bhi mujhe love you too karti naa, toh palat kar jaroor dekhegi."
Sadly, barring a few scenes including this comical spoof on Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayege's iconic 'Palat' scene, Dinesh Vijan's latest film Roohi doesn't give you enough reasons to 'palat' and revisit this horror comedy after the first viewing.
What's Yay: Songs, Varun Sharma
What's Nay: Direction, Slothful writing
Roohi begins with Tim (Alexx O'Nell), a documentary filmmaker capturing the liveliness and bustle of Baagadpur, a fictional town in North India on his camera, before he introduces us to two rookie crime journalists, Bhaura (Rajkummar Rao) and Kattanni (Varun Sharma). The duo's boss Guniya Shakeel (Manav Vij) also runs a business of conducting 'pakad vivaah' (marriage by abduction).
During one such escapade, on Guniya's orders, Bhaura and Kattanni end up abducting Roohi (Janhvi Kapoor) to get her married to the groom who had given the contract of 'pakad vivaah' to Guniya. However, due to change in plans at the last minute, Bhaura and Kattanni are asked to hold Roohi as hostage in an abandoned warehouse in the deep woods.
But, unknown to them, there's danger lurking in the form of a 'mudiyapairi chudail' (witch) who has possessed Roohi. Amid all the chaos, Bhaura ends up falling for the docile Roohi while Kattanni believes that he has found his soulmate in the insidious spirit Afza, who resides in Roohi's body. What follows next is a spooky love triangle where the two pals find their friendship and lives at stake.
Three years after the blockbuster success of Rajkummar Rao-Shraddha Kapoor's horror comedy Stree, producer Dinesh Vijan returns with one more urban legend; this time of a witch who puts grooms to sleep in order to possess their brides. While the one-liner sounds thrilling, writers Mrighdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra fail to weave a plot which delivers laughs and chills in equal measures.
In terms of treatment of the film as a horror comedy genre, Roohi lacks the rollicking fun, something which Stree had managed to achieve despite its own set of flaws. Director Hardik Mehta (His last outing was the brilliant film Kaamyaab) fumbles with the directorial reins this time, as the script falls short of the smartness. Those looking out for genuine jump-scares, Roohi will break your heart and how! The sluggish screenplay and the inconsistent writing add more to your horrors. Also, only a handful of dialogues deliver the droll humour on point.
'All that glitters is not gold' and Roohi is a perfect example of that. While Janhvi Kapoor blew our mind in the trailer and the two songs, the actress falls short of delivering what she is capable of in the film; blame it on the mediocre script. The starlet barely gets scenes which allow her to spook you and shine.
Rajkummar Rao who brought the house down as Vicky (remember Bicky please?) in Stree, is saddled with a confusing dialect which plays a major spoilsport here. While he brings to fore his charm and vulnerability, his dialogue delivery comes across as a tad repetitive.
But, the surprise package of the film is Varun Sharma as Kattanni, the Roadies-loving sidekick to Rao's Bhaura. His endearing simplicity and goofiness simply wins you over every time he's on screen. In fact, the actor even steals the show from Rajkummar at places.
Amalendu Chaudhary's camerawork perfectly captures the eerie ambience in the spooky scenes. Huzefa Lokhandwala's editing scissors should have trimmed the film by several minutes to conceal the erratic writing.
Janhvi Kapoor's sultry belly moves and her 'oohs and aahs' in the promotional track 'Nadiyon Paar' sets the screen on fire. The young star once again has you under her spell in the 'Panghat' song which plays when the end credits roll. Jubin Nautiyal and Sachin-Jigar's romantic track 'Kiston Mein' is pleasing to the ears. 'Bhootni' crooned by Mika Singh is forgettable.
The lyrics of one of the songs in Roohi goes like, "Ho meri phhuljhadiya re, Sabar zara kariyo re, Sabar karte huye kitna bharun main, Hand pump se matki." Don't be surprised if you walk out of the theatres singing these lines, still waiting for some solid dose of entertainment post COVID-19 lockdown.
We give 2.5 stars out of 5 to Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma starrer Roohi.