‘ROOHI’ | 11 March, 2021

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Jio Studios and Maddock Films’ Roohi (UA) is a horror comedy. Bhawra (Rajkumar Rao) and Kattanni (Varun Sharma) are bosom pals living in a small town. They fall in love with the same girl, Roohi (Janhvi Kapoor). Actually, it’s not so simple. While Bhawra is in love with Roohi, he is aware that she is possessed by a spirit. And Kattanni falls in love with the spirit whose name is Afza (Janhvi Kapoor). Who wins the hand of Roohi/Afza in marriage and how, form the crux of the story.

Mrighdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra have written a story which, at the concept level itself, flounders. The audience finds it unpalatable that anyone can lose his heart to a ghost — that too, a ghost who looks ghastly and scares the daylights out of people. The comedy that follows is not just feeble but because of the implausibility factor, it cannot be enjoyed to the fullest. At every stage, there’s one question which troubles the viewers, and that is: can anyone in his senses ever profess his love to an ugly-looking ghost? What after all will he get in this love affair? The duo’s screenplay is laboured and long-winding. No doubt, some scenes do have an enjoyable comic flavour but for a good part of the drama, the screenplay tests the audience’s patience. That’s also because the comedy seems contrived. To add to the viewers’ tale of woes, the dialogues are unclear at many places. Not only is the dialect difficult to understand but Bhawra’s incoherent speech, because of faulty pronunciations, also gets on the audience’s nerves. The screenplay goes in circles because of the thin story-line which soon runs out of steam. The track of the old lady (Sarita Joshi) is quite interesting but it comes so late that the viewers are already exhausted by then. Perhaps, the worst part of the screenplay is that the effort to be funny shows at every point in the film. Oftentimes, the audience can actually feel how the writers must’ve exulted after writing supposedly funny scenes which fail to bring even a smile to the face, leave alone tickle the funny bone to make them laugh or guffaw. Dialogues (penned by Mrighdeep Singh Lamba and Gautam Mehra) are good at places but lack consistency.

Rajkumar Rao has attempted a character which is outside his comfort zone. If only for this reason, he should have ensured that the script had meat. Unfortunately, he walked into the film with a half-baked script and, therefore, despite his best efforts, he often fails to impress. His effort to make people laugh is evident in several scenes. Janhvi Kapoor gets limited scope despite playing the titular character. Her performance is very good, both as Roohi and Afza. Her dances in ‘Panghat’ and ‘Let the music play’ songs are graceful and energetic. Although she looks like a plain Jane in the film, she exudes oomph in the two aforementioned item songs, especially in the ‘Panghat’ song. Varun Sharma is fair but again, there’s not much he is able to achieve because of the insipid script. Manav Vij is ordinary as Shakeel. Alexx O’Nell lends average support as the American television reporter. Sarita Joshi is superb in the role of the old lady. Rajesh Jais has his moments as Roohi’s father. Sumit Gulati makes his presence felt as Paras. Gautam Mehra (as Lucky pandit), Vinod Raghuvanshi (as the pandit), Adesh Bhardwaj (as Riyaz), Rachna Gupta (as the bride), Manik Roy (as the police inspector), Anurag Arora (as Panauri tantrik), Chetan Goel (as the groom), Kundan Roy (as the constable), Dinesh Sharma (as the healer), Nand Pant (as the climax pandit), Sakshi Anis (as bhabhi) and the others provide routine support.

Hardik Mehta’s direction lacks conviction. Sachin-Jigar’s music is a mixed bag. Both the item songs — ‘Panghat’ and the remixed version of ‘Let the music play’ — are excellent. The other songs are so-so. Lyrics (Amitabh Bhattacharya) are alright. Picturisations of the two item songs (‘Panghat’ by Vijay Ganguly; ‘Let the music play’ by Piyush-Shazia) are very good. Ketan Sodha’s background music is very ordinary. Amalendu Chaudhary’s cinematography is okay. Manohar Verma’s action and stunt scenes are functional. Production designing (Ayush Agarwal and Abhijeet Shreshth) and art direction (Yogesh Bansode) are fair. Editing (Huzefa Lokhandwala) is loose.

On the whole, Roohi is so implausible that it will fail at the concept level itself. However, it will do fair business in the hinterland.

Released on 11-3-’21 at Inox (daily 8 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by Jio Studios. Publicity: quite good. Opening: fair. …….Also released all over. Opening was fair at some places despite the coronavirus scare.