It seems Netflix does love its anthologies! Probably the first OTT platform to introduce the audience to the genre. And after a slightly wobbky beginning in Lust Stories and Ghost Stories, it has finally been able to deliver some memorable ones too – Paava Kadhaigal and Ajeeb Daastaans. This weekend we have another one in the offering Ray, to celebrate the four short stories penned by the maestro Satyajit Ray by giving them a modern twist. This one paper seems to be a lovely move as a whole generation is still unaware of the greatness of Ray and his story telling techniques(Pathar Panchali, The Music Teacher to name a few). His stories might seem straight forward on paper but they are highly complex and layered if you look closely. And so in our in house traditional template, we’ll break down each of the four offerings in this new anthology. So lets get started.
Forget Me Not:
A story of a businessman blessed with a remarkable memory and often regarded as a human computer, who suddenly finds himself losing his memory. The screenplay here is cerebral and unfolds like a thriller. It pushes the audience to a space where probably the audience is the main character, not able to recollect about a certain incident that has taken place. The writers give a sneak peek right at the beginning, before introducing the main protagonist and the world around him which culminates in a shocking finale. The only criticism that I had was that slightly towards the end, the grip on the narrative was let loose only relatively as compared to the rest of the drama that was literally on the knife’s edge. Director Srijit Mukherji in his first outing has done a fantastic job! Notice the names on the walls in one of the scenes Ft Ali Fazal- That in itself was a tribute to the maestro naming all the fictional characters which Ray had created. The BGM here is quite intriguing, the dialogues fit in perfectly. The performances are excellent. Aninditaa Bose(very charming), Neeraj Purohit(excellent), Shruthy Menon(confident) and Shweta Basu Prasad(outstanding as always) have done an incredible job. But the most complex character was of Ali Fazal and he has delivered a performances for the ages! So many shades, so many layers and he does full justice to the character. Overall, an outstanding watch
Forget Me Not Rating: 4/5
A story of a timid man who wishes to be a makeup artist, yet is caught in the wrong job, conspires to settle things with people who rubbed him the wrong way. Another example of a simple story by the face of it, yet much more complex if you dig deeper. The screenplay brings out the dark side of the protagonist pretty well. Written in such a manner, the screenplay initially makes the audience sympathise with the protagonist before the ego of the lead takes over. This again unfolds like a thriller culminating into a dark finale that stays with you long after the film has ended. Director Srijit Mukherji in his second outing again manages to impress. He again brings out the nuances of the drama pretty well. And his love for makeup which was evident in his previous work Vinci Da is evident here too. The Music and BGM are good again, and the dialogues are well penned too. The performances are incredible. Rajesh Sharma(excellent as ever) and Bidita Bag(natural onscreen) have put up some brilliant performances. But the star of the show is Kay Kay Menon in another complex role played to perfection. You needed a skilled actor to pull this role off. I can equate his character with the Joker. A loner who takes law in his own hands, he is perhaps a distant cousin of the most iconic villains of all times! Incredible Acting. Overall, a winner all the way!
Bahrupiya Rating: 4/5
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa:
My favourite of the lot. A story of two men from different backgrounds that meet each other in a train journey. A series of conversations reveal that they had crossed paths earlier too. While the previous two stories were thrillers, this one is a satire that will find yourself laughing gleefully on the drama that unfolds. The screenplay is soft and subtle with a lot of humour carefully drafted in it culminating into an incredible finale that will leave you shocked but with a smile on your face. The beauty of the writing here is that there are so many conflicting emotions on display. While you feel sorry for a character, in the very next scene you are smiling. What an incredible story! Director Abhishek Chaubey has done a splendid job here and his love for Urdu which was evident in his earlier work Dedh Ishqiya too is on full display here. The music ft the original ghazal by Ghulam Ali Saab(and a spin off of the name of the film) is outstanding and totally creates an atmosphere of divinity. The BGM is brilliant and the dialogues with abundance of Urdu gives the drama so much texture. The performances feature the best set of actors stacked together that literally create magic! There are charming cameos from Manoj Pahwa and Raghubir Yadav who are hilarious. And the two veterans Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao in conflicting roles are so good that they feed off each other. Both of them jointly deliver the best performance of this anthology! Overall, a must must watch!
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa Rating: 4.5/5
The least favourite of mine but only relatively speaking! A story of an actor famous for his ‘one look’ who finds his stardom challenged by a godwoman named ‘Didi’. The issue I felt here was that the drama seemed a little dragged and could be edited down further. No doubt the story is different and it takes time to settle and digest it, and mainly is genuinely different. The screenplay is also well written except for the flaw that forces it to overindulge a bit. The drama starts getting complex in the second half much like the character of the protagonist culminating into a whacky ending! Director Vasan Bala is in his elements once again and he does quite a good job too. You need to remember that directing Ray’s stories is no child’s play and it requires insane skills to get the nuances right, and all three directors have done well here! The music is exceptional here, so is the BGM. The dialogues are alright. The performances are decent. Loveleen Misra(such a pleasure to watch), Akansha Ranjan Kapoor(pretty good) and Chandan Roy Sanyal(we need more of him) have done good jobs. Radhika Madan is simply outstanding here and someone I again to see more of. Harshvardhan Kapoor starts off slowly(or whether he was meant to) but slowly picks up as his character progresses. It was again a very complex character and he does a good job with it. Overall, a good watch!
Spotlight Rating: 3.5/5
Ray is a fitting tribute to the maestro Satyajit Ray that showcases the range in his writing. From psychological thrillers to comedies, he has done it all! It was in 1992 when a poll had placed him at no.7 in the Top 10 Directors of all time! What an incredible journey penning some incredible stories. Another winner in the anthology genre, Ray is available on Netflix and Highly Recommended.