Stree, a horror comedy, may be an author-backed role for the film’s female lead, Shraddha Kapoor. But that did not deter Rajkummar Rao from doing the film essentially because of the “unique combination of horror and comedy”, and also because he loves the humour in the film scripted by Raj and DK. “Humour of the film is relatable, it is very small town. It’s very entertaining and I am a big fan of Raj and DK. I loved their Go Goa Gone and Shor In The City. They are very quirky writers, they always bring something new in their films,” says Rajkummar. “I have also known Amar (Kaushik, director) for a while. He’s a very talented director. I loved his short film Abba (the only award-winning Indian short film at Berlin International Festival, 2017),” he adds.
Rajkummar plays “an aspirational, uniquely talented tailor specialising in ladies fashion” in the film that recreates an urban legend of the early 1990s on the big screen. “My character doesn’t believe in spirits and ghosts and then he hears that a ‘stree’ is taking away men but leaving behind their clothes. Soon after he meets Shraddha and how his life changes after that,” says the actor.
He admits, however, that he is not a staunch believer in spirits and ghosts. “Growing up, we all hear stories and have sessions of horror nights where you narrate your experiences. I won’t say that I am a staunch believer but I am sure there are some energies and one shouldn’t disturb them,” he adds. While the actor says that they had an incredible experience shooting the film, he admits that it was also quite scary and disturbing for him. “We were shooting in this haunted place in Bhopal and we were given some rules and regulations, like not to wear perfume, girls were not allowed to leave their hair open, then we had to carry a 'Hanuman Chalisa' (a holy book) and not talk too loudly or we might disturb the entity. It was quite eerie and we were shooting in the night. I walked in really long alleys in pitch dark. It was quite disturbing for me,” says the actor.
In the town, there are fables of this strange woman who calls men by their name and abducts them, leaving their clothes behind. Nobody knows any facts - and those who are abducted seldom show up to tell stories - but the fear is palpable. Everybody diligently makes sure the inscription O Stree, Kal Aana (O Woman, Come Tomorrow) is written on their walls, and at night try and stay indoors.
Initial release: 31 August 2018 (USA)
Director: Amar Kaushik
Screenplay: Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru
Music director: Sachin–Jigar, Ketan Sodha
Producers: Dinesh Vijan, Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru