Stree Review: A New World Where Men Live in Fear of Women

Bollywood

Stree Review: A New World Where Men Live in Fear of Women

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

T

he opening credits of debutant director Amar Kaushik’s Stree asserts that the film is based on a “ridiculous phenomenon”. It refers to the Telugu urban legend “Stree Re Pura” (Stree, come tomorrow) that Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK (the film’s producers, also credited for the screenplay) encountered in Tirupati in 2013. It piqued their curiosity and they learnt from the locals that the words were scribbled on the walls of their houses to ward off the evil spirit of a woman who would abduct men at night.

Five years on, that phrase makes it to the big screen as “O Stree, kal aana” (Stree, come tomorrow). In the film, residents of Chanderi, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, religiously inscribe the words on the walls of their home during an annual four-day-long puja to protect the town’s helpless men from a female spirit called Stree. She haunts the town during this puja – a clever play to imply menstruation maybe. Stree terrorises men by calling out their names thrice before taking them hostage and leaving behind only their clothes. The film’s writers confidently label this as the spirit “asking for consent” from its victims, proving that there’s still a long way to go before we all grasp that consent is a two-way street. They mine the leftover clothes – the underwear and vest – for humour and as you can probably tell, it doesn’t elicit a laugh.

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