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Ranjish Hi Sahi Series Review: A dull, overdramatic affair- Cinema express

Ranjish Hi Sahi Series Review: A dull, overdramatic affair

This eight-episode series is a stark reminder that it’s time Bollywood stopped capitalising on Parveen Babi’s tragedy

Published: 14th January 2022

“Some parts of this story are best forgotten,” a wistful Shankar Vats (Tahir Raj Bhasin) tells us early in Ranjish Hi Sahi. The existence of this show makes you wish a wizard had cast the ‘Obliviate’ spell on Shankar, absolving him of his guilt-ridden memories and consequently, us of a painfully generic, overlong show.

Director: Pushpdeep Bhardwaj
Cast: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Amala Paul, Amrita Puri, Zarina Wahab
Streaming on: Voot Select

Ranjish Hi Sahi is a reiteration of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s sensationalised extramarital affair with actor Parveen Babi in the ‘70s, but it brings little depth to the skeletal structure. Shankar is a struggling filmmaker, who, having tasted three failures, is now working on his fourth, a do-or-die project, but all we see in him is nonchalance. We are only told about his hunger for success; his unparalleled narration skills are appreciated as well, but not once do we see these ourselves. In short, the writing doesn’t give us enough reasons as to ‘why’ we should root for this man. As it fails to forge empathy between the viewer and Shankar, despite shoehorning a back-story about his formative years, we don’t feel for this man when his life turns upside down when his ill-fated tryst with Amna Parvez (Amala Paul) begins. 

Wait, isn’t this series supposed to give us a deep glance into the perturbed psyche of Parveen Babi, err Amna Parvez, you may ask. Well, its sympathies clearly lie with Shankar and his pursuit to make a successful film. The series, too, is structured in a way it ends with Shankar experiencing an epiphany and finally writing the ‘one true story’ straight from his heart (Mahesh Bhatt had directed Arth based on his affair). Ranjish Hi Sahi, created by Mahesh Bhatt, uses this relationship more as a conflict than a subject matter. We also get characters like a perverted producer who keeps throwing challenges at Shankar and one of the series’ attempts at layered storytelling involves a ‘Watch Man’ who fixes watches and Shankar’s time. But the story does find some profundity in the form of Amrita Puri’s Anju, who, despite being the archetypal wife, comes across as someone with an agency. The same cannot be said about Shankar’s mother (Zarina Wahab playing the most Zarina Wahab-ish mother) though.

While Tahir Raj Bhasin tries his best to embody this ever-perplexed character, one cannot help but wish the writing gave him more meat to chew on. Like the film producer who is bewildered by Shankar’s amour propre, we too find it hard to gauge him. The dialogues, which are more ‘filmy’ than the movies of that period, make you wonder whether aam people leading an aam zindagi actually indulged in such dialogue-baazi. Everyone talks like they know they are in a drama series chronicling the ‘70s. However, Amala Paul’s complex character—which can be infuriating, and rightly so, at times—keeps the show together when she’s on-screen. The actor’s face-off with Amrita Puri towards the end—which is bound to leave us discomforted—is one of the strongest scenes of the entire show.

Ranjish Hi Sahi inundates you with nostalgia. The show is riddled with references to real people (Amitabh Bachchan is mentioned too), and it believes piecing together articles form Parveen Babi’s Wikipedia page will do justice to the story. Turns out, it's not enough. Despite its attempts at profundity and evoking emotional responses, the show falls flat ultimately, and there’s only so much a persistent background score can do. Ultimately, Ranjish Hi Sahi turns out to be a humdrum outing that only manages to tests our patience with every passing episode.

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