Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkumar Rao, Varun Sharma and others.
Hardik Mehta

The makers of Roohi, have tried creating a fantasy village, where everything that one might dissociate within society seems like a normal happening there. For instance, there are two friends Bhawra (Rajkumar Rao) and Kattanni (Varun Sharma) who have a day job but their side-business is kidnapping girls and getting them married off. Of course, they are not called p*#ps but pakdaai-shaadi experts. 

The story begins with the two friends kidnapping the wrong girl Roohi (Janhvi Kapoor) however, they don’t seem to be very concerned about getting the wrong girl till they realise that Roohi within her, also has another personality – Afza (Thus the film’s initial title – RoohAfza). Afza who the two friends call lady-hulk etc is a bloodthirsty ghost who is very difficult to handle. Yet Kattanni falls in love with her, while Bhawra goes for the most malleable version, Roohi. While Kattanni’s love for Afza is supposed to be applauded here, that bit of the story is the first amongst the many absurdities that writers Mrigdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra have for us. After all, Afza is no Maleficent (despite how she looks in the Panghat song) so what makes Kattanni fall for her? We don’t know and the makers of the film don’t bother explaining. 

The whole story spans over 2 hours 15mins but quite frankly it is only the last 15 mins that are worth your time, or perhaps the reason why this film was ever made. The remaining portion of the film comprises of events put together with no cohesive narrative. There are places where it seems like the makers would have had a lot of fun writing the scenes; especially the part where they marry Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge with Exorcist but the same doesn’t translate to humour onscreen. And to have a 2-hour film with just one memorable scene, not counting the climax, is plain pathetic.

It might be the first film where, it pains to write, that Rajkumar Rao was exasperating. It is ghastly to see an actor with such an advanced craft sense, ham all over the film – that too without managing a giggle out of his audience. Why would Rao do a repeat of Stree (in a way) when the film obviously doesn’t do anything for him in terms of writing or character. Bhawra is irritating in so many parts that you are don’t feel invested enough to bother to understand his lisp, or what he is trying to say in some difficult portions.

Even before I saw Fukrey, everyone who was anyone was telling me to watch out for Varun Sharma. The actor was par-excellence and so on, he was fabulous as Chucha in the film that made him so famous. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to do exorcise Chucha from his life. Be it Sexa or Kattani, he is just the same, and pretty hard on the nerves. 

Janhvi Kapoor’s efforts are visible, which is a shame because they do nothing for her. She does look stunning in the pre and post-credits songs but Roohi was her ticket to impress, instead, she only manages one or perhaps two expressions in the film. Her scared Roohi look is surprisingly similar to the deadpan, evil look of Afza the only difference is the makeup thanks to another Kapoor (Nikitasha Kapoor the special effects artist). 

All this is such a disappointment because it all comes together for a director like Hardik Mehta who has given us stories like Lootera, Queen, Trapped and Kaamyaab, he has worked on the series Pataal Lok and even managed to bag a national award in regional cinema category. So why would he make such a haphazard venture? Unfortunately, only Hardik can answer that!

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