Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor’s latest movie, Stree, is being lauded by the critics for the performance of its actors, its comedy and also for its commentary on society and its treatment of women.
However, in all of this, one important aspect of the film has been overshadowed -- the horror. Stree tells the story of fictional Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh, haunted by a woman’s ghost. According to legend, ‘Stree’ descends upon the town every year on the first fours nights of Navratri. She preys on men and hunts at night. To keep themselves away from her clutches, the men dress as women and paint the walls of their homes with ‘Oh Stree, kal aana.’ And she lets them be.
As spooky as this may sound, the story takes inspiration from an urban legend that had Bengaluru in its grasp sometime in the 1990s.
Legend says that a witch would come knocking at people’s doors every night and if they opened it for her, she would murder them. Why would people open their doors for a witch? Because she would speak in the voices of their friends or family members.
To ward her away, the town’s residents would write on their walls, “Nale Ba” which means ‘come tomorrow’ in Kannada. The witch would read the inscription on the walls and turn away, only to return the next day and the cycle would continue perennially.
Of course, the story spread like wildfire around Bengaluru. Soon, as time went by and people realised they had no time for urban legends and superstitions, the story died and so did the witch of Nale Ba.