Roohi Review (SPOILERS): The Superheroine Origin Story I Always Wanted and Never Knew It!!!!

Yaaaaaay, a SPOILERS review!!!! If you just don’t have the energy to watch this movie but are curious about it anyway. Or if you can’t do horror but want to know what it is like. Or if you have seen it and are DESPERATE to discuss. But if you like horror comedies with a feminist message, you can also save this as a special treat and NOT read this review.

Whole plot in 2 paragraphs:

Our heroes Varun and Rajkummar are part time kidnappers/bride brokers in a small town. They get a commission to kidnap a young woman Janvhi, but then there is a fight at the wedding party and they are told to take her to a cabin and hold her until they get further orders from the groom’s side. Varun sees the bride climbing the walls and freaks out, but then is won over when she sweetly asks him for food. She escapes later and Varun sees her as a possessed spirit who meets his eyes and seems almost interested in him. Meanwhile, Janvhi’s father goes to the police and explains that Janvhi was supposed to be married last year only a ghost possessed her while she was preparing for the wedding. Varun and Rajkummar try to convince their boss that she is possessed but he doesn’t believe it. He wants to complete the commission, so Varun and Rajkummar take Janvhi away. Rajkummar plans to hold a fake wedding ceremony which will bring out the spirit and make her leave Janvhi. Varun wants to marry the spirit for real. In the middle of the ceremony, Janvhi suddenly takes control and stops the ceremony. Instead, she marries “herself”, the regular Janhvi marries the ghost spirit possessing her. She rides off happily on a motorcycle, leaving both boys behind.

Roohi': Janhvi Kapoor turns into a ghost bride in the latest posters  featuring Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma | Hindi Movie News - Times of India

There’s a central joke here, that Indian boys are so clueless and so desperate they will fall in love with a ghost spirit if only she meets their eyes! Rajkummar is in love with a real girl, but he hardly talks to her before deciding he is “in love”. Not to mention that he KIDNAPPED HER and she is being kind and nice to him because she is afraid for her life. And then Varun falls in love with a possessed woman because she says ONE WORD to him and makes eye contact. This whole part works perfectly.

The other thing that works perfectly is the why the bride kidnapping is handled. It’s not that bride kidnapping is “okay”, it is that it is as okay as regular arranged marriages. We see a quick bride kidnapping at the start so we understand the process. She is taken directly from the street to the wedding. Her potential in-laws try to convince her to say yes by showing her their wealth and talking about their son. And then she says yes and is married. This isn’t a long kidnapping, just transport from street to wedding. And ultimately she has the possibility of saying “no”. The best part is how the bride reacts. She looks believably stunned and in shock. She isn’t happy to be married, but she isn’t hysterical. It is more sort of a “well okay, I guess this is the new bad thing that is happening to me” response.

Which brings me to the ending! We have a lot of little fun detours on the way, Rajkummar marries a dog so he can then marry Janhvi/Ghost and not really be married to her. Rajkummar also travels around trying to find someone to fix the possession and sees everything from a possession debunker to a paan maker who removes spirits through paan. And of course, Varun Dhawan has a lovely all day date with his ghost girlfriend. But the point is to get to the ending where Janhvi declares she is marrying herself and goes over happily possessed. Because being possessed is not the worst thing that can happen to a young bride at an Indian wedding.

This is the part where I feel like the film fell down a bit. It got the whole male side of the patriarchy these ridiculous men who fall in love with a girl based on nothing and assume she feels the same just because she passively goes along with it. But the film doesn’t quite get the female journey of being afraid to argue or speak for herself and wishing she had the anger and strength inside to make her own life. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay at the end, we have a conversation between Janvhi and her ghost where the ghost says something about how she “saved” her. And we know that the ghost tend to possess brides and be attracted to weddings. I guess the point is that the ghost is possessing brides to save them from marriage and waiting for a woman who appreciates the opportunity? And the happy ending is Janvhi finally seeing the advantages she has with the ghost?

I really REALLY needed more from Janvhi’s characters to make that work! Tell me about the ghost, give me a flashback showing she was a bride killed on her wedding night or something. Tell me about Janvhi, show how she was rushed into the wedding she didn’t want and is depressed about her life already. Show why an angry angry spirit and a pale colorless young girl are such a perfect pair.

But whatever, we still get the great idea of two silly young men falling in love with a girl and the witch possessing her. And we get the perfect ending of the girl and witch choosing each other and leaving both men behind. Oh, and we get shockingly good RedChillies VFX, especially the creepy backwards feet thing.

17 thoughts on “Roohi Review (SPOILERS): The Superheroine Origin Story I Always Wanted and Never Knew It!!!!

  1. Yay!! You watched and reviewed Roohi! I haven’t watched it yet (too little energy crowd), but I was so happy to Janhvi in a funny movie, I really think it’s good for her career.

    “And of course, Varun Dhawan has a lovely all day date with his ghost girlfriend.” This sentence made me crack up and wonder about Varun Dhawan in this movie until I realized it was the other Varun (or is it not??).

    I love seeing RR in roles like these – slightly weak man and a little pathetic.

    Now I really want to watch this!

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  2. Just finished watching it thanks to your non-spoiler review! Just so much fun! Not perfect, but when it works it works very well. Varun is such a sweet dum dum with Meme worthy expressions and Rajkummar has his clever lines and all that. Jahnvi was OK but needed more strength at the end. Overall I liked it. Also, the soundtrack is so much fun! I’ve been listening to ‘Panghat’ and ‘Nadiyon Paar (Let The Music Play)’ over and over. I love these feminist ghost/horror movies coming out nowadays! More of them, please!

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    • Yaaaaay, so glad I got you to watch it and that you enjoyed it!

      On Fri, Apr 23, 2021 at 12:54 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Yes! And props to the script writers for using the white guy just right! He was as goofy and dumb as the rest of them, while also being a little bit outside of them.

          On Fri, Apr 23, 2021 at 5:25 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Confused about the doggie wedding and really don’t want to watch again for my answer when I have DCIB.

    Rao marries a dog (poor, hot, panting thing) so he doesn’t have to marry a witch. But when Janhvi is getting married to Varun, the old lady stops the wedding saying, “This can’t take place, the groom is already married” and she trots in the dog. But I thought it was Rao who married the dog, not Varun.

    Probably something simple but I wasn’t thrilled with this film so might have checked my phone or something.

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    • The idea of marrying the dog was to trick the witch. If she believed he was already married, she would be so upset that she would fly out of Janhvi and leave her alone. But Rajkummar lent Varun his wedding suit, so the wedding photo looks like it was Varun in the suit. so the witch is briefly tricked into thinking Varun is the one who married the dog.

      On Sat, Apr 24, 2021 at 12:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I finally finished Roohi (yay! It only took 3 days!) and…it’s so bizarre? I feel like it would have been nice to see more conversations from the ghost’s POV or just more of the ghost earlier in the movie. Why does she stick around with Varun and Rajkummar, while also being willing and able to escape? Is she in love with Jahnvi or marriage because I thought she was in love with Jahnvi during the whole scene where she’s telling Jahnvi that she’s her strength…but turns out she’s not in love with her? So this is less a Western concept of marriage like ‘love and cherish’, more the desi concept where ‘we are together until the end of days.’ I feel like I kept switching contexts there. But I’d have loved to be a guest at that wedding!

    I agree, the last 5 minutes was the weakest part of the movie, but it’s still so funny! Especially with the romantic music and cliche dialogs at exactly the wrong moment and then the old lady is also a witch!

    And in the middle, I kept comparing Varun to Bella from Twilight, because BOY. No self-preservation instincts at all! And also the whole friendship to Sangam when Rajkummar tells Varun to marry her because friendship. AND THEN HE BETRAYS HIM!! I cracked up. Poor Varun.

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    • Poor Varun! And now I want to see a comic version of Twilight along similar vein!!!! A disgusting kind of vampire with a sappy teen girl dripping after him and blowing bubbles.

      On Sun, Apr 25, 2021 at 1:22 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I’m a bit late to this review, but these feminist horror comedies really intrigue me. Similar to Rohit Shetty’s cop universe (Singham, Simmba, Sooryavanshi) this will also be a franchise. Stree was the first installment, Roohi is the second. The third will be Bhediya. In that film Varun will play the supernatural creature, not Kriti Sanon. Maybe they felt if would be better if they also did a film where the woman could be the hero, like in Stree. However, for that to work Varun would have to play a bit of a supporting role, and I don’t know if he would sign a film that does that. I also wonder if this horror universe will ever crossover. Because if it does, how will Rajkummar participate? He plays different characters in two separate films. Maybe the corssover will be between the ghosts, so we could potentially see Shraddha, Janhvi, and Varun in a horror comedy together. This is a very unique concept (for Indian cinema, at least) and I wonder how this will all play out.

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      • I figured that out about 2/3rds through your comment, but it did take a bit!

        On Sun, Apr 25, 2021 at 8:39 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • YES! I want Shraddha, Janhvi, and Varun ghosts all together!!!! I’m also intrigued by the idea of Varun playing the ghost in the next one. So far, the films have been feminist in that female spirits seek vengeance for wrongs done to woman when they were alive. So is Varun going to be possessed by another angry female spirit? Or an angry male spirit who is mad about wrongs done to men, which would be a whole different thing?

      On Sun, Apr 25, 2021 at 8:36 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I thought Varun is a werewolf in Bhediya. I think that’s why he grew the beard. So maybe it’s not necessarily a ghost universe specifically and just a horror/supernatural universe.

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        • And then there will be a big combined movie like The Avengers! At least, that is my dream.

          On Wed, Jun 9, 2021 at 4:23 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

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