Ranjish Hi Sahi
Director: Pushpdeep Bhardwaj
Cast: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Amala Paul, Amrita Puri, Zarina Wahab
Ranjish Hi Sahi is the fourth attempt at capturing Mahesh Bhatt and Parveen Babi’s tumultuous love story, after Arth (1983), Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee (1993) and Woh Lamhe (2006). The first three being films, it is interesting to see the story unfold in a series format in Ranjish Hi Sahi, out now on Voot Select. With Tahir Raj Bhasin playing a struggling filmmaker, Amala Paul as the schizophrenic actress, Amrita Puri as the resolute wife, and Zarina Wahab as the resilient mother, the makers have thoughtfully put together a story laden with emotions.
The writer kind of assumes that you will have a background to the real-life story that has been fictionalized here, so a lot is left unsaid. The show, instead, focuses on the emotional dilemmas of each character. Through the episodes, we learn how Shankar (Tahir), after delivering three flops in succession, is struggling to keep his family afloat while trying to make his fourth film.
About the same time, he meets top actress Amna Parvez (Amala Paul), first purely out of a professional interest, which soon turns personal. Amna is always in an emotional tumoil, first because of her ruined relationship with actor Zubair, and professional rivalry with another actress. She finds Shankar as her anchor in a life where no one really cares for her, not even her own mother. But the doomed relationship and growing symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia make matters worse for her.
While Amala has done a great job in portraying Amna’s emotions, it’s better not to try to look for Parveen Babi in her. She does bear an uncanny resemblance to Deepika Padukone from Om Shanti Om, though. The series also makes one realize the lack in awareness about mental health issues back then. The story would probably taken a slightly different turn, if the incidents had taken place today.
Amrita Puri stands out as Anju, the wife who bears it all, but not helplessly. She takes matters into her own hands when her husband fails to, and Puri has done an admirable job in portraying her. Zarina Wahab’s character brings in another piece of reality from Mahesh Bhatt’s life – his parents’ interfaith relationship – which is the root of all turmoil in Shankar. You will be reminded of another Bhatt film, Zakhm. Zarina proves once again why she is one of the strongest character actors we have in the industry right now.
The show focuses on Shankar and attempts to explain his emotional arc. He is also the narrator of his own story, as opposed to the previous projects on the topic, where the obsessive and deluded woman was in focus. Tahir Raj Bhasin deserves credit for making the almost inexplicable character from 50 years ago watchable and relatable for today’s audience.
The one character that intrigues you is that of the ‘Watch Man – who repairs watches’, metaphorically used as a tool to elucidate Shankar’s conscience.
The series is seeped in nostalgia, with its ’70s setting and inside view of the Bollywood that we all love. There is a lot on offer in the eight episodes, but not once do the makers let you forget, this is an unfortunate love story, after all.