Manoj Bajpayee, Gajraj Rao, Kay Kay Menon, Harshavarrdhan Kapoor, Ali Fazal and others.
Srijit Mukherji, Abhishek Chaubey, Vasan Bala.
When you write a story in one era and it ends up being relevant and exciting decades later, you are bound to be a phenomenon. Though I cannot believe there can be anyone in this world who is not familiar with the name Satyajit Ray, there are many who might not be familiar with his stories. While there have been many films in Bollywood that took inspiration from Ray’s work, we haven’t seen someone in recent times, take his work and turn it into a contemporary saga. So can you imagine the level of excitement when an anthology has been announced featuring stories motivated by the classics!
Ray, no ray, an anthology is always exciting, giving us hope that at least one will talk straight to us. Four episodes this time, dedicated to Ray. What RAY inspires to do, is take the stories from the legend and give them all their own interpretations. Each having its own thrills and twists.
Let’s begin with the craziest and whackiest part, SPOTLIGHT. The instalment is directed by Vasant Bala who has given us the mad caper Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. This time brings a story about superstar Vikram (Harshavarrdhan Kapoor). Vikram is a superstar, whose manager (Chandan Roy Sanyal) is constantly pushing him to do one extra ad, achieve a little more in the guise of a Hollywood project. But if a Hollywood film expects him to audition, Superstar Vikram isn’t interested. While Vikram is trying to reinstate his star status and rub it over everyone else. A renowned Godwoman Didi starts threatening his hold. Didi’s popularity is almost unparalleled. She is also omnipresent and her star status threatening him everywhere he goes. Soon, Vikram and Didi start a tussle, who is more popular than the other?
Bala as always packs his portion of the anthology with quirks and anecdotes you have really pay attention to get. The dialogues are fun, the outfits are awesome, the madness hitting the roof. Yet, this is one of the weakest instalments with more misses than hits. Pity, since Bala’s quirks with Ray’s stories could have been a lethal mix. Harshavarrdhan doesn’t underperform per se but his manager played by Chandan Roy Sanyal leaves a more memorable mark.
Forget Me Not
Ipsit (Ali Fazal) calls himself the human-computer. He forever remembers EVERYTHING. So imagine his surprise when he meets a girl (Anindita Bose) who claims to be his ex-flame! Someone he has no recollection of, in fact, he doesn’t believe he has ever met her, leave alone have a ‘nice’ time with her. With his wife and he being in the family way, there is too much that is changing but Ipsit cannot forget that girl who just walked into his life and shook it. The unanswered questions running on his mind slowly start taking over his life, he success, his life and his well-being all are threatened. The build-up to this mystery is interesting but somewhere this gripping saga loses its hold. The plot thickens but loses its ability to relate, much before the big climax unfolds. The major problem being director Srijit Mukherjee’s insistence on underlining everything! Ipsit’s favourite flowers are forget-me-nots, there is Drishyam playing in the background where people are made to remember things that didn’t exactly happen. Yet, not all is lost. The highlight of this segment is the cinematography. The Mumbai nightlife has never looked better. Take a bow Amit Waghchaure (Art Director).
This is yet another episode directed by Srijit Mukherjee. Bahrupiya is all about Indrashish (Kay Kay Menon), a make-up artist. His life is a bit of a rut with finances being compromised and nothing really going his way. Then one day, his grandmother passes away, leaving behind her legacy for him. A legacy of prosthetics complete with all the tricks, that too! For Indrashish who has always been insipid, inconsequential and insignificant, the box of prosthetics is a new face for him to showcase a new side to the world.
When facing the world behind a layer of prosthetics, Indrashish is a stronger, more confident man. He wants to take on everyone and everything with this new face. The most interesting portion of this set is when he meets a face reader who recognizes him for who he is, and Indrashish takes it upon himself to fool the face-reader. The intrigue and the sentiments behind Bahrupiya sets its aside from everything else. With Kay Kay Menon doing a joker-esque performance, this one remains one of the better works of the series.
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa
The winner of the series is Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa! I didn’t understand the title, so I waited and watched director Abhishek Chaubey weave his story around and I was left completely mesmerized. To begin with, this segment stars Manoj Bajapayee and Gajraj Rao, alongside actors like Raghubir Yadhav, Manoj Pawah and others.
This episode is shot around a train and an overnight journey that Musafir Ali (Bajapayee) takes to Delhi. It's enroute that Ali meets Aslam Baig (Rao) who Ali certainly has met before but cannot really place. The jogging down memory lane brings backstories of a watch, a certain robbery and more.
The film is beautifully shot and extremely satiating, thanks to the director and Aditya Kanwar – the production designer. The set design itself packs more punch than the three other episodes manages in totality. Chaubey’s wit, language and relation-aesthetics are bang on as always. Yet the best part of this episode remains its actors. The kind of chemistry displayed here is superlative in comparison to anything else u will see in this series. A big winner, this! Enough to excuse the follies of the other instalments!