The Tenant Review: Shamita Shetty brings realism to this mildly dramatic film

The Tenant Review: Shamita Shetty brings realism to this mildly dramatic film

Shamita Shetty is the heartbeat of the film. She has never looked so fresh, raw and confident

Rohit BhatnagarUpdated: Friday, February 10, 2023, 11:30 AM IST
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Shamita Shetty in The Tenant |

Director: Sushrut Jain

Cast: Shamita Shetty, Rudraksh Jaiswal, Swanand Kirkire and others

Where: In theatres near you

Rating: 3 stars

Filmmaker Sushrut Jain, a Film and Television Institute of India-graduate, who grew up in Mumbai suburbs till the age of 17, made a short film titled Andheri back in 2008 with Vijay Verma, who is now an overtly popular star but it took him nearly 15 long years to make a full length feature film - The Tenant, a Hinglish film that highlights the journey of a single woman who stands against all the odds.

Meera (Shamita Shetty), an ex-model (Sonia Sarai), an aspiring painter and a chain smoker, moves into a 2-BHK apartment to bury her broken relationship with Ajay (Manish Anand). But things change for her when Bharat (Rudraksh Jaiswal), a 13-year old kid living in the neighbourhood falls for her secretly during his summer vacations.

Sushrut, who grew up in one of the posh areas of Mumbai suburbs - Juhu Sameep (to be precise), had shot the film inside the premises, hence, his comfort of shot taking is evident. His attempt of telling his story through by-lanes and terraces of the society is noteworthy.

However, a couple of things weren’t in favour of his narrative. Meera gives her house keys to a so-called stranger in Mumbai. The scene where Meera and his boyfriend are softly making out in front of Bharat is unreal.

Sushrut also wastes too much time in establishing the camaraderie of a curious kid Bharat with Meera. The track of the two has a stark resemblance to Manisha Koirala-Aditya Seal-starrer Ek Chhotisi Love Story (2002).

Being a tenant till date myself in Mumbai, I have too lived with a live-in couple in the past but never encountered even a glimpse of love making in front of me - creative liberty? Although, old uncles letching onto Meera like a hawk, conservative ladies talking about her outer demeanour amidst their household chores, security guards keeping an eye on who’s coming to her house and at what time, a horny middle-aged chairman making drunk calls just to fulfil his sexual desires, are a common phenomenon for unmarried female tenants. Quite relatable.

Also, Sushrut somehow manages to tickle the funny bone with the subplot of Swanand Kirkire and Sheeba Chadha, who are like any other couple in years of marriage. He has beautifully put a closure to the equation of Bharat’s parents, who are almost living a rocky marriage.

Shamita is the heartbeat of the film. She has never looked so fresh, raw and confident. Meera is by far her most impressive character on screen. She has evolved a lot as a performer from Ishika Dhanrajgir (her character in Mohabbatein), literally a lot! There’s Meera in every Mumbai society. Rudraksh is a star boy. He is the driving force of The Tenant. Manish Anand, Sheeba Chadha, Harsh Mayar, Divya Jagdale, Atul Srivastava, Swanand Kirkire do justice to their respective roles.

Sushrut’s The Tenant is a solid take on today’s women— their singleness, modernity and social stigmas attached to the gender in totality.

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