When a Ghost Upturned Patriarchy: On Stree’s Humorous and Thought Provoking Tale

FILM REVIEW

Stree – a recent film Directed by Amar Kaushik, tells the story of a village ghost who remedies the patriarchal viewpoints of the inhabitants by scaring and haunting them in a hilarious way.

Priyanka Yadav | The New Leam

Stree Film Poster

Stree,  a movie with a good amount of thrills, humour, and horror manages to give men a dose of their own medicine. This movie is centred on a female ghost called Stree, in a small village of Rajasthan where the ghost is popular for kidnapping the men of this village. Thus making the life of men in the village very difficult, in the movie we get to see some interesting shots like men wearing sarees and bangles just to escape from the eye of the ghost, men becoming confined to their households and their wives taking the charge of both the home and the world.

The movie is set in Chanaderi Village of Rajasthan, this village is haunted by a female ghost called Stree, who is shown as an angry women stalking and kidnapping men around the festive period in the village. The ghost appears for only four days of the festivity during which she would call the name of the men who are roaming around alone from behind and if the man turns around she would disappear along with the man by only leaving his clothes behind. Villagers live in dark terror of the ghost and make every possible effort to keep away the ghost. A famous technique adopted by the villagers was to write- “Stree tum aaj mat aana” (Stree, don’t come today)on every possible wall of the locality, this line is written with a special ink.

A still from Film Stree

Rajkumar Rao, a young tailor working and living with his father falls in love with a girl (Shraddha Kapoor) whom he saw during a mela organised in the village. With this starts his romantic journey of finding and knowing the girl more.

In this process he is helped by his two friends but after learning few things about the girl they find out that the girl has a mysterious behaviour and thus they suspect her to be the ghost – Stree.

With this starts the interesting tour of these three men to find Stree where they are helped by Pankaj Mishra who runs a very old book store in the village. This movie is a fresh and well executed story in the genre of horror comedy with the right amount of horror and right amount of comedy blending together at the perfect time and place and giving the viewer spills of laughter and goose bumps simultaneously.

In the movie when these men  finally make an encounter with the ghost they are informed by Shraddha Kapoor that the spirit of this woman Stree is wandering because she was not respected and accepted by the villagers of her village and in that frustration she kidnaps all the men of the village.

The issue of non- acceptance and lack of respect towards women is not something which only the ghost had to face but in the larger context in our society these are issues which have been plaguing our society since time immemorial and we do not know long they would continue to be this way. This is the major issue with which the stree (woman) in the movie and Stree(women) of our society are grappling with-. That little amount of respect, understanding, and patient hearing that the feminist movement has asserted time and again.

Coming back to the movie, this movie while addressing the issue of lack of respect to women has managed to give due respect to them quite interestingly.
Consider this dialogue between Pankaj Mishra and Rajkumar Rao, when both of them reach the place where Stree is suspected to live and try to find her, Pankaj Mishra says- “ Vo stree hai purush nahi, vo aise hi nahi utha lejaegi, vo tumhe rokegi puchegi, yes bolege to yes, no bologe to no, YES means Yes”.

The movie has through its well written and delivered dialogues touched upon current issues like Aadhar card and patriarchal chauvinism.

Although the movie has an abrupt end it will not fail to entertain the viewers with good humour and acting. For the first time in this movie we see a male (Rajkumar Rao) becoming sensitive towards a ghost and making efforts to understand her although he has been suggested options like killing, strangling to deal with her.

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