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Web Series Review | Ray: Good, Better, Best & Bad

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The ‘Ray’ critic web series review is here. The Indian anthology web series created by Sayantan Mukherjee will be streaming on Netflix on 25 June, 2021.

Directed by Srijit Mukherji, Vasan Bala and Abhishek Chaubey. Ray is produced by Ajit Andhare, Tipping point and Viacom18 Studios. The series features Manoj Bajpayee, Ali Fazal, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon and Gajraj Rao in key roles. The anthology contains four gripping stories inspired by the works of renowned Indian genius – the maestro Satyajit Ray.

Web Series Ray Review

The four stories included as part of the anthology are

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Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa by Abhishek Chaubey
Based on Satyajit Ray’s short story Barin Bhowmik-er Byaram (rough translation Barin Bhowmick’s Ailment)

Bahrupiya by Srijit Mukherji
Based on Ray’s short story Bahurupi (rough Multi-character)

Forget Me Not by Srijit Mukherji
Based on Ray’s short story Bipin Chowdhury’s Smritibhrom (rough translation Bipin Chowdhury’s Memory Loss)

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Spotlight by Vasan Bala
Based on Ray’s short story of the same name

Let’s take the four stories one by one as they appear on the series

Forget Me Not by Srijit Mukherji
Based on Ray’s short story Bipin Chowdhury’r Smritibhrom (rough translation Bipin Chowdhury’s Memory Loss)

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As it is said inspired, Forget Me Not is Srijit Mukherji’s modern day re-creation of Bipin Chowdhury’s Smritibhrom. Ipsit Nair (Ali Fazal) is a happening entrepreneur on the verge of bagging the top award. One night a stranger played by Anindita Bose approaches Ipsit with a friendly smile. The stranger claims to know Ipsit well and she reminds him of the quality time they spend together. The already happily married Ipsit who is proud of his computer memory and perfect intellect has no clue.

Things go haywire when Ipsit starts forgetting things, one day he meets with an accident and lands up in hospital. Ipsit’s secretary Maggi (Shweta Basu Prasad) comes for to visit and it is more trouble for Ipsit.

Srijit Mukherji recreates this as a dark psychological thriller and is able to pay respect to the maestro Satyajit Ray’s hitchcokian / kafkaish elements over here to an extent.

Effectively modernized and commendably performed by Ali Fazal with solid support from Anindita Bose and Shweta Basu Prasad managing to make her space in this good enjoyable thriller drama.

Bahrupiya by Srijit Mukherji
Based on Ray’s short story Bahurupi (rough multi-character)

Nikunja Saha (Kay Kay Menon) is a lonely neglected makeup artiste who is struggling to make a living. Make up is his passion and one day due to a change of fortune, Nikunja’s monetary problems get solved. He then decides to pursue his dreams and follow his passion. An atheist by nature, Nikunja’s remarkable ability to transform a person’s physical identity due to his brilliance as a makeup artiste, makes him feel superior and one day he unnecessarily messes up with a fakir / baba a holy man to prove his supremacy but things don’t go as planned.

Srijit Mukherji this time gets better and we feel the Bengali aura here. More rooted than the previous one with Kay Kay Menon giving a terrific performance as Nikunja, the tribute to the maestro Satyajit Ray gets better.

And yes, not to forget the solid impact by Dibyendu Bhattacharya as the fakir / baba the holy man and Bidita Bag as the struggling actress making her own mark.

Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa by Abhishek Chaubey
Based on Satyajit Ray’s short story Barin Bhowmik-er Byaram (rough translation Barin Bhowmick’s Ailment)

Thodi se jo pee li hai, daka toh nahi daala chori toh nahi ki hai Abhishek Chaubey brilliantly coins this unforgettable gazal by Akbar Allahabadi made popular by the living legend Ghulam Ali in his tribute to the maestro Satyajit Ray.

Abhishek recreates the story where Musafir Ali (Manoj Bajpayee) is a well-known singer, travelling in a first-class compartment for a concert in Delhi. His fellow passenger is a wrestler turned sports journalist played by Gajraj Rao. Both of the them develop a unique bond and on pressing hard on his memory, Musafir recollects that he has met this pehalwan (wrestler) ten years before and there is something that happened that time which is haunting Musafir. What is it? How are the singer and the wrestler connected?

So, the great Akbar Allahabadi, the great Gulam Ali, twined in the great Satyajit Ray’s story – this is something rare and out of the box. Pure brilliance. A gem.

Manoj Bajpayee’s outstanding brilliance and Gajraj Rao’s immaculate timing add more nuances to this perfect tribute. And yes, the short cameo by Raghubir Yadav and Manoj Pawa gives it a vividly comic and fairy tale color.

Abhishek Chaubey narrates this as a stage play and adds layers to this incredible and the best tribute to Ray in this anthology.

Spotlight by Vasan Bala
Based on Ray’s short story of the same name.

This is the weakest though very ambitious. Vasan Bala makes a mess of this Satyajit Ray story and is pointlessly bizarre in its recreation. Harshvardhan Kapoor tries hard but he is so poor. Radhika Madan is completely out of sync of her character in this spoof which has gone wrong. I won’t tell you this story as I don’t want to hurt the original story by the maestro Satyajit Ray further. Chandan Roy Sanyal is the only believable thing in this laughable circus.

In fact, Vasan Bala has tried his best to malign the previous fabulous works in this anthology. It’s almost killed the anthology – so suicidal. The best part is it’s the last one so can be ignored.

Final words
Watch the first three stories in this anthology – good, better, best. Ignore the fourth its forgettable. It’s extremely difficult to give justice to the maestro Satyajit Ray’s vision with your own interpretation and sadly Vasan Bala went horribly wrong in his ambition but Srijit Mukherji got a chance to get better while Abhishek Chaubey nailed it to perfection in the best tribute in this anthology – Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa (you can watch this one in particular again).

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