'Ray' review: Surreal, eccentric, brilliant, and everything in between
Anthology series Ray based on stories by ace filmmaker Satyajit Ray is now streaming on Netflix. The four-part series has been directed by Srijit Mukherjee, Abhishek Chaubey, and Vasan Bala. The series tries to keep the absurdity and eccentricity but with an underlying message approach by Ray alive, but misses at places. Manoj Bajpayee-Gajraj Rao's Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa takes the cake. We review.
The first part titled Forget Me Not is the story of Ipsit Nair, a man with the memory of a computer. But he and his life start disintegrating when he's made to believe that he's losing his memory. Ali Fazal is brilliant and Shweta Basu Prasad fits in her role perfectly. But the dark, almost haunting episode is a far cry from Ray's original.
"When a man starts treating himself like God, know that his end is near"—Mukherjee takes another clear departure from Ray's original and turns up with Bahrupiya. Kay Kay Menon plays Indrashish, a loser with a love for make-up and prosthetics. Life turns topsy-turvy when he starts seeking revenge from people he feels have wronged him in disguises. The message is clear but looks overtly-dramatized.
This one by Chaubey is a cinematic experience and a visual treat. It is also the only one that really keeps the spirit of Ray's story alive and intact and serves you something that is never really seen on Indian screens. Based on a simple concept of kleptomania, this one starring Bajpayee and Rao takes you back in time. The surrealism here is magical.
Directed by Bala, Spotlight is the story of a movie star who doesn't really know how to act. His fragile ego is hurt when he sees a god-woman getting more attention than him and starts losing his mind. Harrshvardhan Kapoor has a long way to go still with acting and screen presence and Chandan Roy Sanyal outshines him. This one is fun but forgettable.
The stories, even though are poignant, needed more of Ray's essence which Hungama... does brilliantly. The series provides fun meta-references and also gives a message with every story. But, Mukherjee and Bala's work is strong visually with a good score but they take the "reimagination" factor a tad too far. This one's eccentric, wacky, and everything you'd rarely associate with Ray. Verdict: 3.5 stars