When you pick up a legend like Satyajit Ray and dare to interpret his work with a slice of modernity, it is bound to evoke mixed reactions. But for most of us, who have always heard of Ray’s classics but have never been exposed to his world, this anthology is a great mix of diverse human stories.
Forget me not
In the first story we have Ali Faizal playing a snobbish Business Tycoon with a razor sharp memory that he is extremely proud of until one day when he encounters a blast from past that leads him to question his entire existence. It all starts on a high, and is an interesting premise to begin with. The visuals progresses slowly from flamboyant to dark. But soon enough the characters start becoming too caricaturish, they start doing things exactly the way you’d expect them too. And pretty soon you realise the premise is not so unique after all. I am sure the brilliance of Satyajit Ray’s stories lies in its nuances and the emotions they evoke, but sadly despite great acting and cinematography this one ends up being superficial and cold.
The second in the series, Behrupiya is a slow killing psychological thriller. KK Menon as Indrashish Sarkar discovers the magic of prosthetics and uses it to take revenge from his tormentors. Set in the rickety bylanes of Kolkotta, this retelling is brave, dark and complex. Again the technicalities of camera and production are on point, but the story relies heavily on the brilliance of the lead actor. KK Menon does complete justice and more to the absurdity of Indrashish. If you excuse some misplaced dialogues and gimmicky makeovers, this is a powerful watch.
Hungama hai kyun barpa
I think I declared this one to be my favourite from the trailer itself and thankfully it doesn’t disappoint. I confess to being totally biased towards Manoj Bajpai and I don’t think this man can do any wrong. Although after having watched Family Man 2 I felt like how will I ever accept him as anybody else but Srikant. But here is as Musafir Ali giving full Ghulam Ali vibes in Hungama hai kyu barpa. To match this fantastic theatre vibe we have Gajraj Rao at his quirky best. The conversations between these two are pure gold and immersively fluid. The visuals transport you to the times of luxurious train journeys and exuberant mehfils, it also cleverly blurs the lines between fiction and reality. This has to be the most satisfying and delightful of the four. If you must watch only one, pick this.
This is my second favourite story for all the drama, humor and surprises that it packs in this one hour. Harshvardhan Kapoor brings back his AK vs AK avatar of an entitled, insecure celeb seeking creative satisfaction. The film takes multiple digs at Bollywood and GenX, some clever, some drab. It takes the route of meta narratives and larger than life visuals to make a point about its self-indulgence. Chandan Roy Sanyal is charming and stands as a pillar to both, the eccentric lead character and to novice actor. Radhika Madan makes an impactful cameo and attempts to crease out the imperfections of Spotlight. Contrary to popular opinion I found this one thoroughly entertaining despite its flaws.
Where it lacks in depth ,Ray scores high on its cast and its technical finesse. If you don’t burden it with expectations equating to the masterpieces, this anthology is modern experimental cinema and worth a watch.