Genre: Drama / Thriller
Directors: Srijit Mukherji, Abhishek Chaubey, Vasan Bala
Hello! I’m back with a written film / TV show review after a looooong time. I think the last one was pre-pandemic (basically a lifetime ago, right?!). So I switched. I stopped writing movie reviews because I felt not many people were reading them on my blog. Instead I moved to making review videos on social media. As people’s attention span continues to reduce, so does the mode and length of the review!
But today here I am with another review, and there’s a special reason for it. About a month ago, I started writing TV / movie reviews for the New Indian Express Sunday Standard Magazine. Trust me, this is a dream come true because I have always, always, always, wanted to write a movie review column in a national newspaper 😀 Can you feel my excitement?! A couple of weeks ago, my review of Disney+Hotstar’s Loki was published, and Zee5’s Sunflower will be out this Sunday. And Ray was supposed to come out the following week, but as sometime happens with newspapers, stories are dropped for not being timely enough. Honestly, I would’ve watched the show anyway and reviewed it through a video on social media, but now that a ready-made written review is sitting in my laptop, it must go up somewhere – and the blog it is! Oh and if you make it to the end, you can catch the video review too!
So after that long-winded introduction, here is the review as it was sent for publication:
REVIEW OF RAY
The stories written by filmmaker, writer and maverick, Satyajit Ray, hold a special place in the hearts of many. To commemorate 100 years of his birth, Sayantan Mukherjee’s tribute to this legend of cinema, reimagines four of his popular short stories in a contemporary context. Netflix’s ‘Ray’ is helmed by three filmmakers, with Srijit Mukherji directing two of the four offerings, and is a mixed bag – of stories and quality. The only common thread? Protagonists that suffer from mental health issues, often resulting in mean-spirited, even vile, behaviour aimed at those around them.
‘Forget-Me-Nots’ and ‘Bahurupiya’, have nothing in common except for their director, but it is evident they are made by the same person. Both are replete with dark, moody, artsy camera-play to signify the abyss of mental suffering. Both also come with gruesome and far-fetched plot twists. The former works well, the latter less so, as the plots become patchy when they veer off their original storylines. Ali Fazal as a successful entrepreneur who suffers a mental breakdown, and Kay Kay Menon as a diffident and vengeful makeup artist, credibly pull through, despite these glitches.
Abhishek Chaubey’s ‘Hungama Hain Kyon Barpa’, about a kleptomaniac coming to terms with his disease, is easily the best of the four episodes. Its light-hearted dealing of a sensitive subject, and the fabulous chemistry shared by Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao, make it a winner. Vasan Bala’s ‘Spotlight’ is most fickle in comparison to the others, yet also deals with a disease of the mind – excessive insecurity caused by jealousy of another’s success. The incongruity of the situation, where a film star and god-woman check in to the same heritage hotel; coupled with the lacklustre performances of Harshvardhan Kapoor and Radhika Madan, make it the weakest link in the series.
When classic stories are applied to a modern context, there is plenty room for interpretation. Instead of resorting to excessive, even supernatural drama, layered nuance might have been added by switching up the traditional male characters for female or gender-fluid ones. The show’s biggest failing is its inconsistency – a simple case of one director too many. It is still, however, interesting to watch different creative minds at work. The stellar camera-work, and – for the most part – credible performances, also work in the show’s favour. Though devoid of the cinematic brilliance of its namesake, ‘Ray’ on Netflix is still worth a watch.
So did you like my review? Keep in mind – this is purely sharing thoughts on the show, not on the brilliant stories that must be credited to Satyajit Ray. Let me know your thoughts in comments below!
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla and sponsored by Queen’s Brigade.
*This is not a sponsored post.
**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.
Ray’s stories are classic but not the interpretation they have been given. Your review is fine and congratulations now that you are writing for newspapers. I miss that. I wrote for The Hindu, TOI and Amaravati Times. All the best for more opportunities.
Thank you! You should approach them again 🙂
Thanks for hosting this fabulous challenge! It has pushed me to write more regularly.
Also, CONGRATULATIONS for your new assignment! I will look forward to reading your columns!
Personally, I am a fan of Satyajit Ray’s writing. However, the modern interpretation in a few scenes was a force fit e.g. use of mobile phones just to establish the timeline. I also felt that the pace of each story was not equally maintained – but then, I guess that is a danger one faces when the choice of stories is eclectic and doesn’t follow a pattern.
Your review is spot on and I loved reading it. Especially since I have seen Ray, so I kept nodding my head while reading. Yes, I agree with your review when you say, that ‘Ray’ is missing in Netflix’s ‘Ray’.
Keep writing, Keep shining!!
Thanks Mayura! I’m so glad you liked my review 🙂
I’ve watched the first episode Forget-Me-Nots featuring Ali Fazal. While I enjoyed the performances, the plot is a bit too convoluted for me to follow–and, as you said, it seemed improbable. I have not read Ray’s original stories. Maybe I should do that first.
Yes best to begin with the books 🙂
Very interesting and thorough review. Many congratulations that you are getting so many opportunities… keep shining and keep rising!
Very interesting and thorough review. Many congratulations 🎉🎉 you are doing great… keep shining and keep rising ⭐⭐🎉🎉⭐⭐
Satyajit Ray’s stories are timeless. I might pass on these since I don’t watch dark stories. I like your reviews. They are always honest and I enjoy the ones you do on Instagram.
Thank you 🙂
Yes, I adore the way you put your reviews via Reels on Instagram 🙂 I agree with the decreasing attention span viewers might prefer a video over reading a review. But you make it so interesting anyway. I have not watched this anthology yet, I might now. Thanks.
I need to see this thriller Ray but being a Bengali I have a soft corner on Satyajit Ray and his works. I do not know if this drama justified that or not. You have written perfect review and now I think I should watch this one.
Being a Bengalee, and a die hard fan of Satyajit Ray, I have read all the short stories from “Golpo 101”. Four wonderful stories from this book has been taken for this series. And, I must say it’s a great making. Manoj Bajpai is so so good as usual. Actually all the actors have done their job just amazingly. Bdw, congratulations to your new venture.
Thank you – I didn’t like them so much but I’m glad you did
So good to see a review on the blog. I do need to catch up on the ones you have shared on Instagram. Love those. You are right, different directors for different episodes do end up doing more harm than good. I will probably check out the show, though.
I have not seen the movie but I had seen your review on instagram and I loved it. All your video reviews be it for movie or products are really eye catching and as you said the attention span to read an entire review is lost. Hence your video reviews make more impact. Specially your expressions are really good!
Congratulations on your latest achievement Noor. That is definitely a dream come true. Ray’s stories are said to be classics. All the best for future endeavours.
Bang on Noor. I was very excited to watch this series as it was stories from Satyajit Ray. But deeply disappointed after watching. I felt that towards the ending, most of the stories were botched up despite having some great actors. I too liked only the kelpto (…errr…..what is the name of the illness… 😉 ) story the best of the lot.
I always used to think that why do people read reviews rather than giving ep. #1 a shot themselves. Now I know why.
Wow, that’s a nice review. Congrats that you started writing to news papers. That’s awesome.
Always loved your reviews whether video or written. Happy to know that you are getting published in national newspaper. I feel your excitement. Way to go girl.
I watched only two of them and your review is perfect – I felt the same. The main reason for choosing this series was the stories of Satyajit Ray. Totally agree with you review.
I watched it , the stories are intriguing. I never read Satyajit Ray but now I am definitely curious to check out his work.. I found Ali Fazal in forget me not quite impressive with his acting and depiction of the character’s trauma.
Yes he acted really well
Ray’s stories are classic. Nice and balanced review. Looking forward to read more reviews. I normally don’t watch series reading reviews. But this one is exceptional.
Thank you! So nice of you to say that!