Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Ali Fazal, Kay Kay Menon, Shweta Basu Prasad, Anindita Bose, Bidita Bag, Radhika Madan
Director: Srijit Mukherji, Abhishek Chaubey, Vasan Bala
In this Netflix Original series, 'Ray,' three different filmmakers take on four separate short tales of Satyajit Ray. The end effect is enthrallingly diverse, though not totally satisfying. Rather than attempting to imitate the maestro, the trio has reworked the original written words in the light of their own artistic sensibilities. The four stories, which seem to be the film itself, range from satire to psychological thriller.
Ray may be regarded as either a ruthless mauling of a master or a thrillingly different perspective on basically simple and humorous tales of human follies penned in a bygone period, depending on how one views the concept of a filmmaker's freedom to follow his heart.
Forget Me Not
Just like its name, Srijit Mukerjee's Forget Me Not is a paranoid thriller that is all about memories and mental processes. Ali Fazal portrays Ipsit, a corporate tiger called "a human-computer" by his coworkers and gets a tagline “Ipsit Nair never forgets,” who has made an empire out of his memory bank and can't afford to forget. However, a fortuitous encounter with an ex-girlfriend sends him into a tailspin of self-doubt.
Well if Ipsit Nair, the year's most active entrepreneur, the man who has amassed a fortune by memorizing numbers and keeping them in his supercomputer-sized memory, can't recollect a single day of his life? The irony is self-evident. This issue is at the heart of the entire story.
No doubt, Forget Me Not is beautifully filmed by Swapnil Sonawane, and Ali Fazal's acting is wonderfully restrained, but the narrative, written by Siraj Ahmed, is too clumsy to investigate the story's main issues in any detail. Despite its flashy filming, the chapter's finale removes any uncertainty. In fact, if we're talking about the editing portion, it has some flaws as well, since the slow pace may cause you to lose interest at times.
Bahrupiya is the second directorial of Srijit Mukherji in which Indhrashish Shah (Kay Kay Menon) is a vengeful loner and an anti-hero who is resentful of his situation. He is the textbook example of someone who has been shunned by society. There's the humiliation of love, then there's the disgrace at work and from the landlord. But the time changes, when his grandmother leaves him a bequest and a book called Impersonation, Shah discovers a sense of purpose. Shah transforms from a virtually faceless guy into a demon with a thousand faces. Shah begins to conceive of himself as the Supreme One who can modify and rewrite fates by rejecting the concept of God and imitating other people. Until he learns about Peer Baba, a Muslim fate teller who "reads" people's faces.
The concept to represent an idea about Bahrupiya is praiseworthy, and this one is quite better than Mukherji's first one, in terms of grip. However, in the end, you might feel unrealistic and some missing things due to its simplistic execution and unoriginal storyline.
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, directed by Abhishek Chaubey, is the nicest of the bunch. It begins when Musafir Ali (Manoj Bajpayee), a renowned singer and Shayari practitioner, boards a train and encounters a stranger named Baig (Gajraj Rao), whose face he recognizes. Let's not give anything away, but let's pretend the two are clones with troubled inclinations. They come to grips with their fates when they run across each other years later.
This is a straightforward picture that stays grounded throughout. For the most part, the film avoids doing anything that may be interpreted as a consequence of a clear-cut concept of what to avoid. Though it has the feeling of a theatrical performance and has a flawless beginning, middle, and conclusion. It's a kind of tale that one can tell to their kids, which gives a perfect & clear moral.
Overall, it's a great work of the whole team, to make it not only enjoyable but to make you serious by the serious performances of Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao, who seem to relish in their 'gravity.'
Vasan Bala's Spotlight, the final installment in the series, is a brazenly, and wonderfully, campy affair. It mashes together Ray, and a whole bunch of blind faith in spirituality nonsense into a froth, crazy concoction that is well beyond anything the short story's author could have envisioned. However, as a film, it falls short of achieving the desired effect, although it does contain an interesting concept. Although others may argue that Spotlight isn't quite that.
Actually, the premise is based on a fairly simple concept of self-doubt: a country's most famous celebrity is disturbed by doubts about his personality cult in the aftermath of another cult. There are two main characters, Vikram Arora (Harshvardhan Kapoor) and Didi (Radhika Madan), the head of a religious cult, which might be interpreted in this way, even though it isn't explicitly stated.
The thing that is missing in this installment is the dialogues which are too lame to digest. There must be something funnier or engaging to make the audience sit till the end. Otherwise, the acting of Harshvardhan Kapoor & Madan is fine and enjoyable.
In the end, it's totally upon your choice as it's practically hard to suggest Ray in its entirety. Otherwise, the two most expressive submissions in this low-key tribute are certainly worth checking out. And, in every way, Abhishek Chaubey's Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa is the greatest of the four sections.