Saturday, October 23, 2021

Ray (anthology): A good tribute to Satyajit

Ray Released on Netflix 25th June 2021

Satyajit Ray was not just a celebrated filmmaker he was also a man of many talents. One of his talents was writing stories. Ray anthology directed by Srijit Mukherjee, Abhishek Chaubey and Vasan Bala is a reimagination of Ray’s stories for the modern audience. It is quite a huge task on hand and fortunately the makers do a good job for most part. My most favourite one is Abhishek Chaubey’s Hungama Hai Kyon. The least impressive segment is the last one directed by Vasan Bala. Below is my brief opinion on the four films.

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Forget Me Not directed by Srijit Mukherjee

Forget Me Not focuses on Ipsit Nair (Ali Fazal) who has successfully climbed up the corporate ladder. He is called as a human computer by his colleagues because of his sharp memory. He is adored by everyone around him. But things take a turn when he bumps into an old flame and start spiralling down fast. Ipsit is haunted by that girl whom he cannot remember and slowly starts getting restless and loses focus on the job.

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Due to his restlessness he also gets into an accident. Initially the impression that we get is he just lost his memory, some sort of dementia but as the story goes along more things come out of the closet and the darker side of Ipsit’s personality is revealed.

That is when we realise that Forget Me Not is not about a single person. It talks about a very important thing which is the growing selfishness of young men and how they will do anything in order to climb up the social ladder. The best thing about this segment is how Srijit Mukherjee unravels the plot and its characters. This can be best seen in Shweta Basu’s role. Initially she comes across as someone who is not so important but Srijit gives a super twist to the character in the climax.

Ali Fazal nails his part of a man whose life is spiralling downwards. The madness and the eccentricity came out perfectly. Shweta Basu Prasad also does a good job particularly when it matters most.

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Bahrupiya also directed by Srijit Mukherjee stars Kay Kay Menon as a clerk with an obsession for prosthetics. He is also an aspiring makeup artist who is stuck with a job and a life both of which he hates. His grandmother was a makeup supplier for Hollywood studios, when she passes away she leaves him a lot of fortune which includes prosthetics too. Bahrupiya uses a Joker kind of setting where the protagonist is pushed to doing things which aren’t exactly right. The path that he chooses leads him to do several unpleasant things which also bring him a question of his own identity.

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Bahrupiya makes an interesting viewing because you get invested in the character of Kay Kay Menon’s Indrashish and the world that he is tangled in. The Joker kind of setting has been cleverly adapted and the prosthetics that Indrashish uses to fool people has been well executed.

The best part of the story is the existential question that the character faces of who he really is. Is he Indrashish or the Bahrupiya who is hiding under the prosthetics. Kay Kay Menon is at his usual best and he is successful in portraying the character’s transformation.

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Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa

After two intense stories this one comes across as a welcome breather by Abhishek Chaubey. The plot is essentially a train journey and focuses on a disorder called Kleptomania. For those who are not aware Kleptomania is an impulse that results in an urge to steal. Manoj Bajpai plays an Urdu Ghazal singer Musafir. During a train journey he meets Asleem Beig (Gajraj Rao), a wrestler turned- sports journalist. As the story progresses it is revealed that it is not for the first time that these two met. Also a shocking revelation is given about Musafir before he became a famous singer that he is today.

This one rests on a thin plot but works because of Abhishek Chaubey’s treatment. The director cleverly uses the glass of the train’s washroom as a device to narrate the story. It is also a pleasure to watch the crackling chemistry between Manoj Bajpai and Gajraj Rao. Both of them are in perfect sync with each other. The Urdu dialogues muttered by Manoj Bajpai’s character are a pleasure to watch.

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The dark humour will make you chuckle at many instances. The editing is also razor sharp and it perfectly complements the fast paced journey of these two. Needless to say that the two actors are in perfect form.

Spolight directed by Vasan Bala

It is easily the weakest link in this anthology. The story is about a superstar Vikram Malhotra played by Harshvardhan Kapoor. He has become a sensation just for his one look. He loves to be in the spotlight but he soon faces an adversary in the form of Didi (Radhika Madan). She is a religious leader who is coincidentally living in the same hotel as Vikram. Vikram starts feeling threatened. They eventually meet which reveals a big twist regarding Didi. This twist is the only thing which works in the story.

The biggest problem with this one is the lack of cohesiveness in what Vasan Bala wants to say. The filmy references don’t work except for a couple of ones. Harshvardhan Kapoor also doesn’t have the star aura about him to play this character. Akansha Ranjan is sincere but is let down by a haphazard characterization. Radhika Madan in her brief appearance is the only one who shines here.

Ray anthology can definitely be watched in spite of a limp ending.

Also read: Stories I must Tell: An emotional journey about the making and the remaking of a movie star

Prabhatha Rigobertha
Rigobertha Prabhatha has been writing on movies, web series, books, etc. on social media platforms like Facebook for a few years. He has a YouTube channel "prabhathalovesmovies" in which he posts video reviews. "I have only two windows to my world - movies and books" reads it's tagline. He is a student of English literature and currently working as Content Writer at Pudami Publications based in Hyderabad.

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