Ranjish Hello Sahi
Creator: Mahesh Bhatt
Writer-Director: Pushpdeep Bharadwaj
Pour: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Amala Paul, and 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 show’s creator while the series is written and directed by Pushpdeep Bharadwaj. What kept me, to be honest, a bit long-winded about the 8-episode series was the human story behind the two well-known celebrities.
I was also interested in the work of a filmmaker, the fragile fame of a diva, and most importantly, the “connection” they shared. These types of relationships cannot be named, let alone explained. The title, translated as “What if there is fear?” suits this story. A superstar struggling with his mental health falls in love with a married and struggling filmmaker. It’s 1970’s Bollywood. Films about the making of films and film personalities are personal favorites.
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What I liked about Ranjish Hi Sahi is that it is sincere in its intent. However, the execution by the writer-director is inconsistent. Much seems lost in the attempt to recreate the past. There are numerous moments that make you wonder “what celebrity this character must be based on”. The stand-ins for Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna are terrifying. 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 candid in his portrayal of Shankar and his humble beginnings. Amala is fickle at first before she shines in later episodes of the series. She gives Aamna the dignity she deserves. Amrita is also doing well as Anju. All the characters are humanized and that makes you overlook the bad hair and makeup design. Culturally, we’re not good at archiving. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to recreate the bygone era. The production design achieves good results here. Like all Bhatt productions, Ranjish Hi Sahi has a good soundtrack.
Also Read: Mahesh Bhatt Recalls Her Relationship With Parveen Babi And Her Battle With Paranoid Schizophrenia In An Exclusive Column For CineBlitz
The series revolves around Shankar’s struggles on both the personal and professional fronts. He delivered four flops and has no story to tell. His chance encounter with Aamna becomes a significant phase in his life. Aamna, a Bollywood star, falls in love with a struggling director. He also wonders what she sees in him. The affair turns Shankar’s life upside down. Like most artists, he thinks it’s all about him. Ranjish seems more a reminder of the late star than the director trying to justify his turmoil between a devoted wife and a mentally ill lover. His mother says 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, that must have been Bhatt writing Arth after he ended things with Babi. Arth was released in 1982 and brought Bhatt much acclaim. Babi died in 2005. Next year Bhatt released Woh Lamhe. Babi had stopped working in films in 1983 after suffering from severe paranoid schizophrenia for several years. Babi’s film world had disappeared long before her death. What remained were rumours, gossip and a filmmaker trying to make sense of the connection he shared with her. Ranjish Hi Sahi is his fourth attempt to retell the story after Arth (1982), Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayee (1993) and Woh Lamhe (2006).