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RAD REVIEW: RAY

Being from the Bengali and Assamese roots, a household name that stands out is Satyajit Ray. Akshinta ( Me ) grew up watching his films right from the tender age of five. The Netflix adaptation Ray, is a series of short stories by none other than Satyajit Ray.


The series is directed by Abhishek Chaubey and Srijit Mukherjee. This series is filled with mixed emotions. The first of the series is a paranoid thriller known as Forget Me Not. Ali Fazal plays the character of Ipsit, a corporate shark and is described as a human-computer.


Ipsit’s livelihood is very ambiguous and vague, he’s somewhat like a stock market CEO. He has several admirers due to his rise to the corporate food chain. His obsession prevents him from his social circles. The prelude of the film- where a person comes to a realization that his greatest superpower is fading away before him. It intrigues him a lot, and he finds it extremely preposterous.


Forget Me Not is hauntingly shot by Swapnil Sonawane, a man who knows a thing or two about capturing Mumbai at nighttime; and the ever-reliable Ali Fazal’s performance is admirably reigned-in, but the script, by Siraj Ahmed, is too clunky to examine the story’s core themes with any sort of depth. The ending, although flashily filmed, robs the chapter of all ambiguity.



But the most unmemorable of Ray’s four films isn't Forget Me Not. That dubious honor must go to Mukherji’s other entry, the Kolkata-set Bahupriya, starring Kay Kay Menon in essentially a one-man show. Menon is great at playing unassuming psychos, and Bahupriya, in which he stars as an overlooked makeup artist, gives him a fascinating Joker-esque character to sink his teeth into. But once again, it’s the oversimplified execution and derivative storytelling that proves to be the film’s undoing.


Fortunately for us all — Ray included — director Abhishek Chaubey comes to the rescue with his delightfully delicate film, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, starring Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao as two men who meet on a rail journey, but can't seem to shake the feeling that they've seen each other before. It’s a terrific two-hander that on paper must’ve read like a chamber piece, but is given cinematic flair by Chaubey’s confident direction and Niren Bhatt’s playful screenplay.


Chaubey relies heavily on the performances of his two stars, yes, but isn’t afraid to stamp the material with his unique sensibilities. There’s a mystery box quality to the film that Chaubey and his actors gleefully unravel, with support from a couple of cameos that I won’t spoil by revealing here. Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao in Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, a chapter in Netflix's Ray.



More than the films of Satyajit Ray, whose fascination with trains even inspired Wes Anderson, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa brings to mind two of Alfred Hitchcock’s best rail-themed movies — The Lady Vanishes and Strangers on a Train. We’ve come full circle, in a way; the train, as it were, has returned to its station of origin. Like Ipsit, the protagonist of Vasan Bala’s Spotlight — a typecast actor played by Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor — also finds that he is losing his X-factor. In Vik’s case, it’s a ‘look’ — a literal look that sends his fans into a frenzy and forces critics to rip his films to shreds. Like Chaubey’s Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, Spotlight also opens with a quirky title card — an idiosyncratic touch that randomly unites the two best entries in this anthology, but also seems very arbitrary, stylistically speaking, since Srijit Mukherji’s films don’t tag along on the ride.



 


Akshinta Das is a graduate from Fergusson College. She did her graduation in English Literature. Her passion interests lies in music and the creative arts. She loves to write and direct plays.

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