‘RAY’ IS SIMPLY ONE OF THE BEST IN TERMS OF EVERYTHING THAT MAKES A VISUAL ART

Rating: 4/5
Distributed as a series, working as an anthology, Ray is helmed by Srijit Mukherjee, Abhishek Chaubey, and Vasan Bala and is created by Sayantan Mukherjee

Those completely new to Satyajit Ray and the fact to what stature he held will find this one intriguing. Those exposed to his short stories as well as films will appreciate the content created with amazement. And those only familiar with the kind of films he made, will have their minds blown. In short, every kind of audience will find Ray fascinating. Or will they? Will this be liked by all? There’s so much more to this anthology/series that just story or screenplay. It’s infact a lesson in cinematography, lighting, production design, editing- all four stories, all technicalities combined.

Watch the trailer here:

PLOT

The anthology/series presents four stories based on four short stories written by legendary auteur Satyajit Ray.

STORY/SCREENPLAY/GENERAL

Forget Me Not– Starring Ali Fazal and Shweta Basu Prasad, it is directed by Srijit Mukherji. Outstanding. Twisted, Quirky. Impressive. The screenplay is penned by Siraj Ahmed. This is one of those films where you get confused about a lot of things- first ofcourse being the nature of the story. But then again, what to like more? The acting or the presentation or the fact that it keeps you hooked all through. All the while you are wondering as to what is happening You scratch your brain, in a healthy way and are on the guessing-mode-on. The film is stylised, thrilling, gruelling and psychological. You have so much to adore in this one. Cinematography by Swapnil Sonawane appeals to you right in the first frame with yellow lights playing their role. Move ahead in the film and you’ll be left speechless by how exquisitely lighting has been used to say certain things. Production design by Anasuya Sengupta- hats off. Simply breathtaking. Especially during the climax. Editing by Nitin Baid is fast and sharp and you don’t know when you are in the present or in a dream.

Bahrupiya– Symbolic to the core. Brings in the ever brilliant Kay Kay Menon essaying a role that’s a laidback supremo. Helmed by Srijit Mukherji with screenplay by Siraj Ahmed, the story captivates you majorly by means of subtext and undertones played beautifully. Keeping you on the edge of your seats, this one grows on you as it progresses. Well, be ready to suspend your disbelief, for this one makes the world utterly cinematic making you believe in phenomenal power of cinema. It’s the wow factor that works for this film. Great cinematography by Arkodeb Mukherjee. The aura full of suspense leaves you thrilled. Production design by Shibaji Pal deserves special mention for keeping the film real and dramatic, both at the same time. It’s a parallel world taking shape in your vicinity. Not an easy task to achieve on sets. Editing by Pronoy Dasgupta brings in believability. One thing after the other, and still the story going back and forth at times gives you a good time watching this one. Thumbs up also to the make-up team. Also to Sagar Kapoor for such riveting score.

ray, netflix, hindi, review, series, film, 2021
Scenes from the film (image source: netflix)

Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa– Stars Manoj Bajpayi and Gajraj Rao, two exceptional craftsmen. The episode is directed by Abhishek Chaubey, another genius in the house with screenplay by Niren Bhatt. Now this one is a very simple story at the outset. But deep down, it says so much about the complex notions associated with a human being, his/her psyche- his/her flaws. If you pass through this one, you won’t get the gist. But may be this will ask you to watch it the second time to absorb what the essence tries to convey. Cinematography by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan is marvellous for the fact that it uses camera and editing to shift you in time zones. Going back and forth, using various colour palettes and sudden cuts working beautifully, it’s a visual immersion into a whole new world. You are left thoroughly impressed. The production design by Aditya Kanwar hence must be given a standing ovation for being so thoughtful that it has brought the wild and random imagination to life. Salutes to Manas Mittal for editing the film nicely. It’s a story of time zones within time zones. This has been brought out in an interesting manner without confusing the audience at all.

Spotlight– Stars Harshwardhan Kapoor in the lead along with Radhika Madan and Chandan Roy Sanyal. It is directed by Vasan Bala with screenplay by Niren Bhatt. Eccentric is the word. The world here is unreal and full of fantasy of sorts. Here also, the storyteller wants you to ponder deep within to bring out the complexities of human life. This however could be presented in a more relatable manner. This remains highly twisted and the narratives don’t really work, even to satisfy the symbolic quest. Cinematography by Eeshit Narain, yet again bowls you over with the production design by Dhara Jain working superlatively for the weirdness in the narrative. Editing by Prerna Saigal is very good for the story keeps throwing puzzles at you. You are invested. It’s a different thing that you wish it was more earthen (that’s for the writing part).

PERFORMANCES

Ali Fazal is spectacular. There are moments when he breathlessly mouths English dialogues pertaining to business that he runs. You won’t believe this is the same guy who nailed the raw and blunt Guddu Pandit in Mirzapur. He is so so good that you want this film to keep running for more time. His personality and body language suits and he takes complete advantage of his charm to convert it into sharpness. Shweta Basu Prasad is also good, although she has a smaller role. But she does have her moments to shine.

Kay Kay Menon is a divine talent, for sure. From the very first scene to the last one of the story, he makes the content belong to him. A piece of advice, pause every scene after every 10 seconds to realise and discuss what extraordinary work he did in those 10 pervious seconds. It’s a sheer delight. Rajesh Sharma has an important role and he does fine with his graph. Similarly Dibyendu Bhattacharya is also good as a calm and restrained Baba. Bidita Bag has a small role and she does fine.

ray, netflix, review, series, film, hindi, 2021
Scenes from the film (image source: netflix)

Manoj Bajpayi never goes wrong. Does he? It’s a haunting question. How can he make something look so effortless? Watch him closely. Watch him again and again. And fall in love with him all over again. He is impeccable in the story. So is Gajraj Rao. He is so perfect with his expressions that you have a tough time in deciding who is better. They complement each other in a fitting manner. The story belongs to both of them equally in a story that says a lot about human imperfections. Manoj Pahwa in a small appearance exudes faith.

Harshwardhan Kapoor looks charming and acts well. A lot of you may find that he was just average. Why so? Because of the demand of the role. Now think of him in the narrative. He fits. He suits. Needless to mention, it’s Chandan Roy Sanyal who shines remarkably in a supporting role in this out-an-out weird story. Flawless. Sharp. Akansha Ranjan Kapoor is also fine, not great though. Radhika Madan in a small role proves once again that she is a good actress.

It’s a piece that excels in teamwork. Look at the episodes collectively and you’ll find a thread apart from the fact that the writer of the stories is one. Humanness brims explicitly and that’s what makes this one a must watch. yes, it’s a very different affair. Very different from what we are generally used to seeing. But the sheer audacity of this makes it all the way more special. Had Satyajit Ray been alive, he would have been smiling.

 

Rochak Saxena

Rochak Saxena a Mass Media Teacher, former journalist at DNA and an ardent lover of Hindi films - literally. The blog derives its name from the popular term ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, most commonly used in the world of literature and cinema. Meaning to immerse yourself in an unreal world (where you know what you see on screen is fake) with a self-proclaimed/declared belief/wish to consider it real, the willing world becomes magical. It’s the same magic every Friday that drives Rochak to share things in the perspective that it needs to be observed with. Every film is different. And the difference needs to be cherished.

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