Stree director Amar Kaushik on film’s hilarious ‘Vicky pleej’ scene; Pankaj Tripathi’s sweet, desi persona: ‘No one like him in Bollywood’
Indian cinema has had a tricky relationship with the horror genre, not only of late, but since decades. Either they have been treated as so-called ‘B grade movies’ or a collection of jump scares and cut-price erotica bundled together in a film. It is rare for our industry, and especially Bollywood, to treat that space with some dignity. One of those instances when that balance was achieved was in the 2018 Amar Kaushik directorial Stree, where the filmmaker presented his characters with some heft and managed to convey something without being too on the nose about it. And yes, he also tickled us, all thanks to a tightly-woven script, some great performances and able direction.
Recently, Stree director Amar Kaushik spoke to indianexpress.com about a couple of stand-out segments in the feature. One of them being the hilarious ‘Vicky Pleej’ scene. Speaking to indianexpress.com, Amar said that while the dialogues and everything was in the screenplay, what the trio of Rajkummar Rao, Abhishek Banerjee and Aparshakti Khurana brought to the screen was their unique camaraderie and the various ways in which they said that particular phrase.
Amar told indianexpress.com, “It (the phrase Vicky pleej) was there in the script, it was the third day of shoot and the first day and first scene that they shot together. All I wanted was that the friendship their characters share should reflect. But there was some improvisation in a sense from all those three guys as everyone was saying ‘Vicky pleej’ in their own unique way, so that you get to know what kind of distinct personalities they are. While shooting it, we were okay and thought it was done decently enough, but when we saw it at the edit table, we realised that it is those intonations and the expressions on their faces that makes the scene so funny and memorable.”
When asked about another amusing sequence from Stree featuring actor Pankaj Tripathi where he speaks that now-famous ‘Aadhaar card’ line, Kaushik admitted that the line was complete improvisation from Tripathi. At one point, when a character wonders how does Stree know all their names and addresses, Pankaj’s Rudra responds, “Sabka Aadhaar link hai uske paas (She has everyone’s Aadhaar’s link).” Aadhaar is 12-digit unique identification number which any Indian citizen can acquire.
“Pankaj Tripathi was the one who had improvised that Aadhaar card line, and when we were shooting it, he was getting something done on that front too (related to his Aadhaar card), he had to get it linked or something. So he decided to incorporate it. That line elevated that scene, I was like ‘Ye kaha se aaya?’ (Where did that come from?). Later when we were done, he said ‘remove this’, and I went ‘No, this is good,’” said Amar Kaushik.
Further praising Tripathi and what he brings to the table, the director added, “I think Stree was one of those first films where he did comedy. I had never worked with him and we first met at Berlin festival. I always imagined him to be a humorous guy, very sweet and very desi. So when you grown up in towns you often encounter rooted personalities like that, but in Bombay and that too within the film industry, I had never met someone like him. He is a fabulous actor but his arthouse acting and comedic acting are very different from each other.”
Stree was not only critically acclaimed, but was a commercial success as well, earning over Rs 180 crore of its modest Rs 14 crore budget. The makers recently announced the film’s sequel; here’s hoping that the movie manages to live up to its legacy.
Stree is available to stream on Netflix, Disney Plus Hotstar and can be rented on YouTube.