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Roohi Review: It Is Just The Antidote For Covid That Will Jab You In Your Funnybones

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Roohi Review: It Is Just The Antidote For Covid That Will Jab You In Your Funnybones

Roohi

Starring  Janhvi  Kapoor,Rajkummar Rao  Varun Sharma

Rating: ****

Directed  by Hardik  Mehta

  There are three principal  actors playing  four main characters  in Roohi, all whipping up a rumbustious mix of  mirth and scares that lovers  of  the horror-comedy genre will love and laugh over  until their bellies ache  . This is the  kind of  wildly  zany entertainment  that doesn’t give us  a  chance  to ask the one fundamental question that  we  must : do ghosts  really exist? Well, even if they  don’t they should ,  so that a film as outrageously over-the-top  as this gets  a chance to do a macabre  yet amusing dance around our subconscious fear of  the  unknown.

 Into this the world of spirits dive two  friends Bhawra(Rajkummar Rao) and Kattani(Varun Sharma) who we gather are langotiya  friends . Cheesy from head to  toe(Rao and Sharma have a  lot of fun with hair dye) they speak to one  another  using a  dialectical  hybridized mix of what sounds  like desi glee and a cheesy  angrezi jargon culled from whatsapp messages.

The two friends  are in their own  words, “despo” to hitch up  . The opportunity for love   presents itself suddenly to  the Jai and Veeru  of the North Indian hinterland where , according to the inventive  brains behind this bhoot saga,  bride -kidnapping is still rampant. Bhawra and  Kattani  end  up kidnapping  a  damsel in distress who is  a two-in-one of her kind. She is  the quiet Roohi  by  day and the  demoniacal  Afzana  by  night, though the  ‘day’ and ‘night’  are  highly flexible  concepts  in this  bizarre  synthesis  of  scares and  satire.

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“I have seen this in The  Exhaustion Of Imli Roj(read: Exorcism Of Emily Rose),”  Rao’s  Bhawra  chips in knowledgeably.

Janhvi Kapoor’s  Roohi/Afzani is no Emily Rose.She doesn’t know  what she  is.  A  girl possessed? Or  a chudail   unprocessed?  No matter  how  we see her she  is  a quietly troubled presence. In  a beautifully enacted  monologue  Janhvi’s  troubled  woman-spirit tells  Rao’s Bhawra  how  she  is  tormented by the demon within. “Some say it’s a  split personality,” she  whispers in anguish  bringing into  the  eerie supernatural tale  a touch of psychological  reasoning.

 There is a  sense of tragic doom  that surrounds Janhvi’s  dual  characters.She  plays them  both  convincingly, gently and with  a deep understanding of  the inevitably incomplete   outcome of  the  human condition.  Even when  she bellows  diabolically  Janhvi is  a portrait of restraint. Her two male  co-stars  , on the other hand, are full of beans and  of  themselves, as though posing for  an eternal selfie of life , stopping just long enough  to wonder  whether to get spooked or just take life as it comes.Ha ha, ouch!

 Lushly  shot  by cinematographer  Amalendu Choudhary Roohi  is  rich in sounds and    visuals  of inexplicable  origin. The  colloquialisms  that characterize the two heroes’ virile  verbal exchanges  tellingly offset the  references to the  supernatural. As  the plot progresses Bhawra and Kattani’s desperation to make peace with their  lovelorn feelings for the  girl with the chudail within,  gets  exacerbated to  the point of  an utter outrageousness.

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A canine is introduced  belatedly  to play a  bizarre  role in  a  marriage of  convenience.An utterly  macabre   same-sex marriage  also props up to tickle  and provoke us.And  finally veteran actress Sarita Joshi shows up as  a woman so far-gone  she  could either be  a famished ghoul  or a half-cocked fool.

Baffling and  amusing in turns, Roohi stays many steps ahead  of our expectations.It is  sometimes exasperating in its oblique  ghoushlisness  but  constantly  engaging.

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