Sushrut Jain’s The Tenant is an entertaining, Malena like movie that revolves around the account of a 13-year-old boy who is struggling with adolescence in a patriarchal surrounding. He is constantly bullied by the other kids of his society and he is friends with a kid who is even more bullied than him. Then , one day, a cosmopolitan woman Meera starts living in the society. Bharat is attracted to her and so are other men in the society but in a wrong way.
The women in the society aspire to live like her while the men want to live with her for a night. Be it the boys or the uncles almost every man in the society has already imagined sexual fantasies with her. Meanwhile, Bharat has form a sense of pure love nurtured by friendship. Meera and Bharat becomes very close to each other as Bharat gives Meera a sense of true companion whereas Meera introduces Bharat to a type of culture he wasn’t acquainted with. Some other problems were like the usage of tools just for the purpose of progressing with the story like Meera’s love affair suddenly rising from the ashes. The sex tape thing as well initially seemed like a tool but it became such a big part of the screenplay in the second half that it started to feel like this tool was always there, we just didn’t look closely.
However, there are some things that are just way off the limits like Meera trusting Bharat with the keys of her apartment or being so careless about not looking over him at a house party where he drinks a truckload of beers. Some of Meera’s actions like these towards Bharat doesn’t seem justified and eventually they do create problems for her. Apart from these problems, the film does highlight and concentrate on some really good social messages through small sub-plots like the stale chemistry of Bharat’s parents which often does happen after sometime in marriage and Bharat’s mother participating in a contest to have dinner with a celebrity , getting parlour-ready for it in advance , later on it’s revealed all this is just to grab attention of her husband or Bharat and his father completely missing out the purpose of sudden change in the behaviour of Bharat’s mother.
Another example is where the chairman Mishra’s wife played by the amazing Sheeba Chaddha trying to reignite the lost chemistry in her marriage by wearing appealing clothes after seeing how her husband is attracted to Meera when she wears similar clothes. These small sub-plots give so important social messages that it just makes the film more rich than ever. Coming to the performances, Shamita Shetty and Rudraksh Jaiswal did an amazing job and so did the other cast members. The film is led by fine actors be it for any role. Overall, The Tenant is an entertaining drama that does highlight some really important messages but some aspects which are just tools for progressing with the story could have been ignored.
NEW YORK INDIA FILM FESTIVAL #4