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 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.