Ray Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Creator: Sayantan Mukherjee
Stars: Manoj Bajpayee, Ali Fazal, Harshvardhan Kapoor
Any adaptation of Ray’s work is bound to evoke extreme reactions. The makers of this anthology were perhaps aware of that while taking on the challenge of reimagining the master storyteller’s short stories that have had their cult following over decades. The four shorts set in different worlds evoke disparate moods, but are of a kindred spirit in the blurring of lines between bizarre and chuckle-inducing eccentricity.
True to his penchant for thrillers and adaptations of popular Bengali fictional characters, Srijit picks a story about the hubris of a man with a phenomenal memory and arrogance to match. Far from the humble Bengali milieu of the original story, the filmmaker places his characters in the penthouses of Lower Parel, with Ali Fazal playing the alpha male who finds himself on a downward spiral after a seemingly chance encounter with someone from his ‘past’.
The story, when it first appeared in print three decades back, would have had its novelty and continues to fascinate Ray’s young readers even today. However, one has seen at least half a dozen thrillers with a similar premise on screen. And despite Srijit’s technical flourishes, what could have been a nerve-wracking, edge-of-the-seat short, leaves you cold. There is however one important departure – Ray’s literary universe was strangely bereft of female characters of any significance. Srijit tries to change that. Rest, would amount to a spoiler.
Srijit is in better command with Bahurupiya – set in decrepit Kolkata alleys and homes where a Jekyll-Hyde-meets-Joker kind of character is never incongruous. A psychological thriller with a macabre twist in the end, this short sees Kay Kay Menon play the titular role with relish. Srijit is a self-confessed fan of the art of prosthetics and has co-written and directed a Bengali psychological thriller called Vinci Da about a talented make-up artist’s tryst with crime. Evidently, the subject continues to fascinate him. Had Bahurupiya been a good few minutes shorter, it could have been far more impactful.
The third story, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, takes a quirky, delightful story about a colourful character with a ‘beemari’, miles away from its roots literally and otherwise, to Bhopal and Old Delhi. Abhishek Chaubey, who is evidently drawn to the subtle, tongue-in-cheek humour that often underlie Ray’s stories, treats both his source material and his actors with reverence. And it is evident in the film that is reminiscent of Ishqiya in the endearing chemistry between the two lead actors – Manoj Bajpai and Gajraj Rao- the charming small-town-esque universe richly detailed with a memorable cameo by Raghuvir Yadav, among other touches. This short is perhaps stays truest to the spirit of Ray’s works, in the deft handling of the characters that stay with you long after the train ride is over.
Vasan Bala’s take on Ray’s story Spotlight, is perhaps the most experimental of the four, in the way it reimagines the characters, the treatment and the storytelling. Like Srijit, Vasan introduces important female characters in this film about a star who suddenly loses his X-factor when an unlikely rival pops up in his world. Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor plays the entitled and insecure celebrity in the film that sometimes tries too hard to draw your attention to the fanboy tributes scattered all over the frames. What could have been a sharp satire on star ego and insecurities, ends up as bit of a self indulgent tribute to the master, a showcase for Bala’s signature irreverence. Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor seems to reprise his AK versus AK avatar, with some swag, while Radhika Madan is interesting as the Godwoman ‘Didi’. Any resemblance to any character dead or alive cannot be a coincidence, surely? Chandan Roy Sanyal, as the quintessential hero’s friend, stands out in the crowd.
If you are new to Ray’s literary genius, it is impossible to get an idea about the originals from this anthology that is perhaps unkind to the fans of his writing. Loved for their unique and haunting plots, sharp writing, and subtle drama, the stories deal with everything from the supernatural to real crimes, horror to human folly. Despite the dark undertones, the bizarre ends and seemingly ordinary but idiosyncratic characters, there is always Ray’s profound humanism to come home to. One only wishes that this ambitious retelling was not so much about the bells and whistles that take away from the quiet brilliance of Satyajit Ray’s short stories.