Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Gajraj Rao, Ali Fazal, Shweta Basu Prasad, Anindita Bose, Kay Kay Menon, Bidita Bag, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Radhika Madan, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Akansha Ranjan Kapoor
Creator/s: Srijit Mukherjee, Abhishek Chaubey, Vasan Bala
Available On: Netflix
Star Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Ray Web Series Review: What Is It About?
If you have been an ardent follower of Satyajit Ray, you know what are you stepping in, but if you haven’t followed the legend, you’re in for a trip to a dark inner-conscious-land where things aren’t plain White. The miniseries consists of four episodes adapted for the screen by Satyajit Ray’s short stories.
Ray Web Series Review: Forget Me Not
Ali Fazal’s Forget Me Not stars him as Ipsit Nair, in a story of a man with the brain of a computer facing dementia. Being a hotshot business tycoon, Ipsit is a family man but it all starts when a certain Rhea Saran makes him believe that she has been an important part of his past. Sharing personal details that only Ipsit knows, Rhea somehow gets in his head and the thought of ‘how could I forget things?’ ruins it all for our flawed human with computer memory.
Directed by Srijit Mukherjee, adapted for the screen by Siraj Ahmed, this story takes you straight into the ‘in the process of being damaged’ mind of its leading character. From telling a 10-figure exact amount he owes to his investors to not remembering someone he had sex with on his birthday at a place he feels has never been to, you see Ispit’s getting demolished right in front of you.
Ali Fazal’s ‘long hair, dapper glasses, sleek tuxedo, lose tie’ look subtly matches Ray’s vision of a smart-looking business tycoon. Ali charms his way into the disruption planned by his destiny. From the way he physically looks to the way he mentally screams, Fazal is the Muhammad Ali of this boxing ring designed by the legendary Satyajit Ray.
This has the best screenplay of all four stories & it’s all because of some unrealistically fantastic scenes penned in the second half. A mind-blowing scene has present-day Ipsit catching his past self at a place he doesn’t even remember visiting. Just remember the term ‘wheelchair journey’ & notice how that brings you goosebumps towards the end of story one.
Swapnil Sonawane’s (Newton, Angry Indian Goddesses) camera couples up abstractly well with Anasuya Sengupta’s geometrically dazzling production design. Nitin Baid’s sharp editing adds to the breezy nature of the story. I have always been a fan of Peter Cat Recording Co. & Suryakant Sawhney, the man whose music is the closest I’ve got to teleportation. With a similar otherworldly feel, the background score delves straight into the episode’s blurry sense.
Episode Rating: 5/5
Ray Web Series Review: Bahrupiya
Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker was Hollywood’s answer to Satyajit Ray’s Bahurupi, in which Kay Kay Menon stars as Indrashish Shaha; an aspiring make-up artist stuck with a job & life he hates. Indro is a simple man with simple dreams, but he’s tangled in a world not fit for him. Much like how society pushes Joaquin’s Curry to transform into Joker, Indro decides to design the path he’ll walk on with impersonation. This leads him to break the boundaries of the law, which ultimately lands him in life-threatening trouble but ends with a question, was he really Indro or a ‘bahrupiya’ all along?
Siraj Ahmed’s screenplay, yet again, justifiably brings Ray’s Bahurupi on-screen. Kay Kay Menon might have got the best 50 minutes of his career with this one. Ray’s trademark trait of his character ‘struggling with his life’ is portrayed by Kay Kay in a way no one else could’ve done. You can see on his face how his life is falling apart, and he doesn’t have any say in it. But, the transformation of what he becomes when he gets the key to his problems is the range only an actor like Kay Kay Menon could possess. This deserves a separate article breaking down every single detail & it’s coming soon.
For now, Arkodeb Mukherjee’s obsession with wide-angle sequences comes across clearly throughout the episode. Shibaji Pal’s dim-lit production design of the film goes hand in hand with Indro’s drab life. Pronoy Dasgupta’s editing stitches the shots well without keeping any clutter. Sagar Kapoor’s minimal background score doesn’t get between you witnessing Indro blowing down his own house of cards.
My favourite of the lot!
Episode Rating: 50/5
Ray Web Series Review: Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa
Satyajit Ray’s one of the underrated gems, Nayak, also consists of a train journey, but with Barin Bhowmick-er Byaram, he takes the same backdrop changing the passengers and conversation between them. A Kleptomaniac (suffering from an impulse control disorder that results in an irresistible urge to steal), Musafir Ali (Or as he likes to address himself) is a renowned Urdu ghazal singer. He clashes with Aslam Baig, a wrestler-turned-sports journalist, who back in his days was known as Jenga The Wrestler. As we advance, we know this isn’t the first time they’re meeting, and Musafir hasn’t always been the renowned singer he’s today.
As Musafir gets accused of stealing Baig’s fortune, the sequences laced up with just the right amount of humour entertain you throughout. If there’s Manoj Bajpayee on-screen buttering life lessons in Urdu, there’s hardly any chance you would even try to focus on anything else. *Boom* Appears the talisman of adorb-world, Gajraj Rao, with this riveting to and fro with Manoj’s Musafir Ali.
A train journey doesn’t stop Niren Bhatt’s screenplay from getting stuck in just a compartment narrating a dialogue-heavy story. Instead, he uses the glass of the train’s washroom as a window to Musafir Ali’s flashback performance. Bhatt’s vision is fantastically backed by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s camerawork and Aditya Kanwar’s production design checking all the right boxes. Manas Mittal’s editing compliments the fast-paced journey of Musafir & Baig. Naren Chadavarkar, Benedict Taylor’s background score leaves no vacant gaps without bothering the proceedings.
Episode Rating: 5/5
Ray Web Series Review: Spotlight
After a hat-trick of perfect 5/5 episodes, the fear of a messed up finally clouded my thoughts beyond control. Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor’s Spotlight starts with Ray’s quote, “There’s always some room for improvisation.” I don’t know if this was cryptically intentional or just ironic, but this is the episode that needed the most improvisation of all four. Nope, it’s not a bad experience at all, but the bar set by the first three doesn’t work in the favour of Vasn Bala’s directed episode.
Spotlight is the story of a star Vikram Malhotra who has become a sensation just for his one trademarked look. He loves to be in the spotlight, but that’s soon snatched by a religious leader Didi (played effortlessly well by Radhika Madan). Coincidentally living in the same hotel, Didi’s powers give Vikram a reality check of what he is. What happens when they both meet? Yes, there’s a twist, and it was enough to surprise you, but the execution takes away the spark of it.
With dialogues like “Fair toh ab Fair & Lovely bhi nahi raha” & rhyming Pritish with British, the dumbness of Vikram is accurately portrayed by Harsh Varrdhan. Rahul Kamble turns on his beast-mode for the background score. Especially the scene in which Vikram’s state of mind is characterised by a fast-paced jazzy drum piece hits the nail. Niren Bhatt takes a simple route with the screenplay of this one, which I feel shouldn’t have been the case. At the risk of being termed as sadistic, this one needed a darker approach and not a glamorous one. Vasan Bala continues his ‘tribute to cinema’ touch from Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, but here, he misses some targets.
Episode Rating: 3/5
Ray Web Series Review: Last Words
All said and done; despite an adrenaline-breaker towards the end, Ray is still probably the best thing to come out of India’s OTT space. A must watch for those who haven’t followed Satyajit Ray as well. This serves as bait to invite people to the ethereal world of Ray!
Web Series Rating: Four and a Half Stars!
Planning to watch another web-show? Read our Grahan review to know if that’s worth your time.