The Playboy Mr. Sawhney review: Jackie Shroff, Tahir Raj Bhasin's short film is an utterly insipid affair

Pratishruti Ganguly

Oct 31, 2018 16:00:48 IST

Short stories and films are often touted to be a more difficult genre as compared to full length feature films. The filmmaker is confronted with the challenge of not only delivering a gripping narrative with a constraint of time, but also leaving audiences desiring for more. The latest offering from the banner of Large Short Films, titled The Playboy Mr Sawhney, does neither.

The film begins with a rather whiny Tahir Raj Bhasin, who is absolutely clueless as to how to navigate through his relationship. Millennial enough? Check. He goes to his uber-cool, jeans-wearing grandfather, considered to be one hell of a 'playboy' in his time, for advice. He says, "Kaise samhalte they aap itni saari ladkiyon ko, mujhse toh ek bhi samhali nahi jaati." (How did you manage so many girls, I can't even handle one). The blatantly misogynistic narrative continues as Bhasin recounts the issues between him and his girlfriend. He says that although his partner loved him, Bhasin's not being 'zyada paisewala' (rich enough) and 'dumb' deterred her from continuing their love. (Note: The not-so-rich Bhasin resided in a palatial house with a manicured terrace in an unnamed Indian city)

A still from A Playboy Mr Sawhney. YouTube screengrab

Jackie Shroff and A still from A Playboy Mr Sawhney. YouTube screengrab

His grandfather, played by Jackie Shroff, then tells him stories of his own failed relationships and how he eventually met his wife. Through his stories, he enlightens his grandson how "even if you find love for sometime, it’s enough for a lifetime."

The narrative shuffles between the past and the present - Arjan Bajwa (of Fashion-fame) plays the younger Shroff, who seems only knows how to listlessly smile. His voice is perennially drowsy and for a man deeply in love, is more interested in playing songs on the gramophone than interacting with his beloved. Shroff, likewise, alternates between breaking into a laugh and staring at his half-filled glass of whiskey. At times, it is hard to imagine that Shroff is the same man who played the iconic serious-yet-caricaturish King Uncle. Tahir Raj Bhasin, whose performance in Manto was lauded by one and many, is quarter-hearted as a conflicted and disgruntled young man.

Divya Dutta and Arjan Bajwa discuss the future of their love in a still from The Playboy Mr Sawhney. YouTube screebgrab

Divya Dutta and Arjan Bajwa in a still from The Playboy Mr Sawhney. YouTube screebgrab

There are three segments in the flashback (shown in black and white sequences), one with each of Shroff's lovers. The first, Mary, played by Manjari Phadnis, is a financially struggling young dame who finds comfort in the arms of Yashpal Sawhney, a spirited journalist, only to realise that her love would not be able to give her and her family the comfort and security that another well-stocked suitor would. Hence, they part ways. The second relates the tale of  misandrist writer Maya (Neetu Chandra) who neither believes in love nor in marriage. The third, tells the unfulfilled love story of an actress Mumtaz, (Divya Dutta) and Sawhney. They both loved one another, but refused to leave their respective lives for love.

In a sea of talented actors and their wasted potentials, Divya stands out for her earnest portrayal of a torn actress who is as passionate about Sawhney as she is about her career. Dutta yet again proves that she can nail her parts, however small they might be, after her terrific turn in Manto. The other characters seem like stick figurines sketched on a lazily written script.

Jazz music is used aplenty as a catalyst in the film; from funny renditions of Hindi classics to punchline tunes, a lot of effort had been taken to give the film a vintage feel. Alas, none of the accessorising could save this utterly dull and insipid film.

Updated Date: Oct 31, 2018 16:03:26 IST