Web Review: Ranjish Hi Sahi is yet another self-cathartic exercise

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Amala Paul in Voot Select’s Ranjish Hi Sahi. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

There should be some end to self-catharsis, even if done for the movies as yet another money-making assignment! Mahesh Bhatt has written and made so many disguised stories on his past life (Janam, Arth, Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi, Zakham… at least) in the 1980s and 1990s that we thought he had moved on. Ranjish Hi Sahi proves otherwise.

This is perhaps one of the most thinly-disguised of his autobiographical sagas, and obviously the longest and most detailed as he gets the chance to expand and elaborate on the web for around five hours of run-time. Interestingly, his life story is also a fact-is-stranger-than-fiction kind in its melodramatic resemblance to both a filmi romantic triangle and an illegitimate son saga.

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Amna Parvez (Amala Paul) is an open facsimile (if I may use the word!) of the late Parveen Babi, and here we get the spectrum of how the world saw her, from a clinically ill patient of schizophrenia to a crazy woman. Shankar (Tahir Raj Bhasin)—and please note the name with respect to its synonym, Mahesh!!—is a struggling director who finally makes it big and wins a Lifetime Achievement honor (wishful thinking, Mahesh sir?) just as Amna breathes her last.

By this time, some gray hair for his long-suffering wife Anju (Amrita Puri) and he suggest the passage of sufficient time. Then there is the arrogantly sadistic Jagmohan (wonder whom this person is modeled on!) played by Saurabh Sachdeva, who roots for Shankar’s misery, and Shankar’s good-natured but helpless brother Ganesh (Mukesh Bhatt??), played by Paras Priyadarshan, who tries to mollify the bigwigs Shankar offends or antagonizes—now, now, was that real?

Amna is looked after by a Christian maid Mary (Naina Sareen) and a Muslim chauffeur Abdul (Madan Deodhar), who are utterly dedicated to her and clearly has a dysfunctional relationship with her mother (which seems unlikely in real life). The framework of Bhatt’s model of inter-communal harmony is now complete, after Shankar’s and Ganesh’s Muslim mother Rukhsar (Zarina Wahab) who is as comfortable doing the pooja as she is praying at the masjid. Bhatt stresses on Shankar being an out-of-wedlock birth by showing a weak father (is that a hint at Mahesh’s parents Nanabhai Bhatt and Shirin Mohammed?).

Mahesh himself had married Lorraine Bright (renamed Kiran after their marriage), a Catholic girl he loved since schooldays, who left him when he got involved with Parveen. This is a departure from fact as Shankar’s wife here is shown as a Hindu, sticking to him through thick and thin, though their college love element is partly dramatized. And the two have a daughter (Pooja Bhatt in real life). Bhatt’s real-life son goes missing from the narrative, as do his two sisters. Fiction, clearly, can do without inconclusive areas minus dramatic meat!

Now what does all this prove? It illustrates the fact that a writer-director who is clearly under heavy supervision from the “Created by” of this series can only do so much on his own. This overdose of real in the reel tends to take attention away from the merits or flaws in the cinema as it is presented to us. We appreciate the way Mumbai is presented in the bygone days, but nowadays, that hardly counts for much—we have so many such “period” sagas.

Tahir Raj Bhasin is an obviously busy actor as befits his talent, and a wig is the only option for continuity with other projects he is doing, but having said that, surely a better toupee could have been designed. He delivers a consummate performance. And Zarina Wahab is effective too.

But the show belongs to four terrific performers. We start with Amrita Puri as Anju—her expressions, vocal tones and body language are terrific, and her emotional outbursts with Shankar phenomenal—this is easily her best so far in the movies. Amala Paul obviously is excellent as the psychologically-challenged Amna, but it’s an author-backed role as well. Her eyes speak volumes.

But my vote goes to the two fabulous actors whose screen time is limited, and yet deliver stunning turns—Naina Sareen as Mary and then Madan Deodhar as Abdul.

The writing, given all the positive and negative odds, is alright, and the background music by Adil-Prashant is skillfully done. However, as in all their films after Begum Jaan, the songs by Aabhas-Shreyas lack the magic touch of the Bhatts, and a couple of songs that I cannot recall now, merely sound nice while on. The lyrics are ho-hum too. Time was when almost every Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt film boasted of lyrical and musical excellence.

Perhaps then, it is time now for the brothers to fashion another real story—on why their music, in particular, and Hindi film music in general, has degenerated so much. With deep insights into the factors responsible, and a possible happy ending with a solution!

Rating: ***

Voot select presents Jio Studios and Vishesh Entertainment present Ranjish Hi Sahi Created by: Mahesh Bhatt Produced by: Jyoti Deshpande, Mukesh Bhatt & Sakshi Bhatt Written & Directed by: Pushpdeep Bhardwaj  Music: Aabhas-Shreyash & Adil-Prashant  Starring: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Amala Paul, Amrita Puri, Zarina Wahab, Naina Sareen, Madan Deodhar, Saurabh Sachdeva, Paras Priyadarshan, Uday Chandra & others

 

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