Ranjish Hi Sahi

Creator: Mahesh Bhatt

Writer-Director: Pushpdeep Bharadwaj

Cast: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Amala Paul, Amrita Puri

Streaming on: Voot Select

Ranjish Hi Sahi on Voot Select is a fictionalized version of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s extramarital affair with the late actress Parveen Babi. Bhatt is credited as the creator of the show whereas the series is written and directed by Pushpdeep Bharadwaj. What kept me invested in the 8-episode series, a bit of a stretch to be frank, was the human story behind the two well-known celebrities.

I was also interested in knowing the making of a filmmaker, the fragile stardom of a diva and above all the ‘connection’ that they had shared. These kinds of relationships can’t be labeled, let alone explained. The title translates to “So what if there’s anguish?” is apt for this tale. A superstar struggling with mental health falls in love with a married and struggling filmmaker. It is 1970s Bollywood. Films about the making of films and film personalities are personal favorites.

Also read: Human on Disney+ Hotstar review: Humans are valued lesser than guinea pigs in this engaging crime thriller

What I liked about Ranjish Hi Sahi is that it is earnest in its intention. However, the execution by the writer-director is inconsistent. A lot seems lost in the attempt of recreation of the bygone era. There are numerous moments of wondering ‘which celebrity this character must be based on’. The stand-ins for Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna are cringe worthy. Anyway, let’s focus on the leads. Tahir Raj Bhasin plays Shankar Vats inspired by Mahesh Bhatt. Amala Paul plays Aamna Parvez inspired by Parveen Babi and Amrita Puri plays Anju inspired by Kiran Bhatt.

Tahir is sincere in his portrayal of Shankar and his humble beginnings. Amala is inconsistent initially before shining in the later episodes of the series. She gives Aamna the dignity she deserves. Amrita, too, does well as Anju. All the characters are humanized and that’s what makes you overlook the poor hair and makeup design. Culturally, we are not good with archiving. So, it is extremely difficult to recreate the bygone era. Production design achieves good results on that front. Like all Bhatt productions, Ranjish Hi Sahi also has a good soundtrack.

Also read: Mahesh Bhatt recalls relationship with Parveen Babi and her fight with Paranoid Schizophrenia in an exclusive column for CineBlitz

The series revolves around Shankar’s struggles on both personal and professional fronts. He has delivered four flops and doesn’t have a story to tell. His chance encounter with Aamna turns into a significant phase of his life. Aamna, a Bollywood star falls in love with a struggling director. What she sees in him, he also wonders. The affair changes Shankar’s life upside down. He, like most artists, thinks that it’s all about him. Ranjish seems more like a remembrance of the late star than the director trying to justify his turmoil between a devoted wife and a mentally ill lover. His mother says that he keeps his word. And the man does.

The series ends with Shankar finally having a story to tell and he starts writing Ranjish Hi Sahi. In real life this must have been Bhatt writing Arth after he ended things with Babi. Arth released in 1982 and brought Bhatt a lot of acclaim. Babi died in 2005. Next year, Bhatt rolled out Woh Lamhe. Babi had stopped working in films in 1983 after being critically ill with paranoid schizophrenia for several years. Babi’s film world had vanished well before she was gone. What remained were rumors, gossip and a filmmaker trying to make sense of the bond he shared with her. Ranjish Hi Sahi is his fourth attempt in retelling the tale after Arth (1982), Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayee (1993), and Woh Lamhe (2006).

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