Ranjish Hi Sahi review: A complicated and moving love triangle

Release Date: 13 Jan 2022

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

While there is nothing novel about this story, it is the treatment and the performances that make the difference.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt has drawn from his own tragic love story with the late actress Parveen Babi twice already for Arth (1982) and Woh Lamhe (2006). So the question that arises is whether there was a need to do that again for the Voot Select web-series Ranjish Hi Sahi.

After watching the show, the answer has to be in the affirmative, for two reasons. One, Ranjish Hi Sahi is much closer to the story of Bhatt and Parveen Babi than the two films mentioned before. As a bonus, it recreates the old era of Hindi cinema with little but significant real-life references.

The second reason is that the show takes the viewer through a whirlwind of emotions. It is not just moving, it also makes you think about its characters long after it is over.

Written and directed by Pushpdeep Bhardwaj, Ranjish Hi Sahi starts off as the story of struggling filmmaker Shankar Vats (Tahir Raj Bhasin) who has delivered three flops in a row. The brunt of his failure is borne by his family consisting of wife Anju (Amrita Puri), a young daughter and mother (Zarina Wahab).

Amala Paul in Ranjish Hi Sahi

Shankar's path crosses that of star actress Amna Parvez (Amala Paul) when he is badly in need of a hit. She agrees to listen to his narration and they strike up a rapport. Their friendship gradually turns to something more. In a moment of weakness, Shankar forgets Anju and his life changes. He is now torn between two women while also dealing with his shaky movie career.

At the outset you know this story is not going to be novel. Even if you didn't know of Mahesh Bhatt’s story, the theme of extra-marital affairs, popularly described in Hindi as ‘pati patni aur woh’, has been explored several times over the decades.

But the screenplay ensures this lack of novelty is not a hindrance. Though the story doesn’t take the viewer by surprise, the narrative does. For example, somewhere in the middle of the show, we are shown the ending moments of the story. Yet, this doesn't act as a spoiler. If anything it whets your curiosity to know how the show reaches that point.

In the writing, the only problem area is that the very first step of friendship between Shankar and Amna appears abrupt. It is an important plot point since it was the friendship that brought them closer and ought to have been developed more carefully.

Another major reason for the show’s appeal is that it successfully recreates the era of the 1970s; right from the look and appearance of the characters to that of the city of Mumbai, which was Bombay then. Except for the local buses, the production design gets everything right. Understandably, the characters are shown travelling around only in South Mumbai because that is the only part of the city that has still retained some of its old charm.

Tahir Raj Bhasin and Amrita Puri in Ranjish Hi Sahi

The real-life references from that era range from the interesting to the amusing. While Bhatt had influenced the star Vinod Khanna on to the path of spirituality, in the show this is reversed with the actor in question being named Vinod Kumar. A star named Amit (no prizes for guessing whom they are hinting at) also puts in an appearance. Manmohan Desai's blockbuster hit Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) is featured as Ajay Anwar Albert.

With Shankar getting involved with another woman despite being married, it is natural for the viewer to judge him. But by the time the show ends, you also feel bad for him while your heart goes out to both Amna and Anju.

The top-notch performances help. Tahir Raj Bhasin gets every emotion and action right as the complicated and vulnerable Shankar. Amala Paul, in her first Hindi outing, is excellent as the mysterious and complex Amna. You can’t list her best moments because there are so many, especially when she goes through mental turmoil.

Amrita Puri ensures she isn't overshadowed by the two other lead artistes. The scene where she comes face-to-face with Amna is the highlight of her role. As Shankar’s mother, Zarina Wahab also delivers a touching performance. However, the scene where she tries to justify his extra-marital affair could have been avoided. It just appears forced.

Naina Sareen and Madan Deodhar as Amna’s secretary Mary and driver Abdul also give earnest performances.

The show does have some Vishesh Films tropes, like the lonely, failed and frustrated protagonist involved in some addiction. This part feels stretched. But by and large, Ranjish Hi Sahi is a moving affair, pun intended.

Ranjish Hi Sahi is now available on Voot Select. Watch the trailer here.


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