Celebrating 100 years of Satyajit Ray, Netflix released the anthology series ‘Ray’ with four episodes, each inspired by the filmmaker’s short stories: Forget Me Not, Bahrupiya, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa and Spotlight. Vasan Bala, Abhishek Chaubey and Srijit Mukherji helm the stories.
Forget me revolves around Ipsit (Ali Fazal), a business tycoon famed for having a brain comparable to a computer, allowing him to never forget anything.
But his life is turned upside down when a woman meets him and claims he spent days with her in Aurangabad. Baffled to not recall the incident at all, he sets out to find the truth.
Bahrupiya follows Indrashish (Kay Kay Menon), an aspiring makeup artist stuck in a job he despises. After his grandmother passes away, he receives a book on making prosthetics and a large sum of money as inheritance.
Using these, he begins to take revenge against those he feels he was wronged by, believing himself to be God.
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa is the story of Musafir Ali (Manoj Bajpayee), a singer formerly suffering from kleptomania who faces a moral dilemma due to a fateful encounter with one of his previous victims, Baig (Gajraj Rao).
Spotlight is based on ‘Vik’ (Harshvarrdhan Kapoor), an actor who gains popularity because of his ‘look’, but now struggles prove himself after being criticised and typecast as ‘one-look Vik’.
His insecurities magnify as he witnesses the people getting ensnared by ‘Didi’ (Radhika Madan), a religious leader worshipped like a God who manages to steal all the attention.
Although the show boasts of a huge cast, majority of the screen time and heavy lifting is devoted to the leads. There’s not enough material for any other character to stand out.
Fazal is competent as Ipsit and manages to portray the character’s gradual descent into self-doubt and instability convincingly. Shweta Basu Prasad is also decent as Maggie.
Menon is stellar as Indrashish, and you can’t help but feel bad for his character, who comes off as genuinely good-hearted individual forced into revenge by his surroundings.
Vik’s eccentricities are expertly captured by Kapoor, who is enjoyable to watch on screen. But Madan does not live up to the hype of ‘Didi’. It feels like she’s just playing a character from her earlier films who’s trying out an accent.
By far the highlight of the series in terms of performance is the delightful synergy between Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao, who light up the screen in a largely two-man episode. But with these two in-charge, do you really need anybody else?
Although inspired by Ray’s short stories from decades ago, the series brings a certain novelty for today’s generation; they’re nothing like what we see today.
Despite the main storyline for each episode being simple in essence, there are complex underlying themes attached.
Each episode starts ordinarily and unravels by the minute, leading to a pivotal conclusion. Apart from the general qualities, each episode has its own set of positives.
Forget Me Not does well at the initial stages to build up an eerie search for the truth and the climax is well-crafted in terms of visuals instead of a simple narration.
Bahrupiya is unpredictable until the last stages and captivates the viewer. While Forget Me Not doesn’t strike as too different, this episode largely intrigues the audience in terms of the concept while highlighting the basic theme; do not try to be someone you’re not. The cinematography is also a treat.
After two rather dark episodes, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa provides the much-needed levity. Though the storyline is possibly the most straightforward, the episode is also the most entertaining.
The theatrical element inside a show is also unique and works well, complemented by the two actors who dazzle. Additionally, there’s a lesson to be learnt: everyone has their sins, and deserves a chance to atone.
Spotlight satires the life of an actor, which can often be full of insecurities, but provides a light at the end of the tunnel; keep striding forward aka #howfarcanyougo or howfarcanyougo#.
Ray is a reminder that stories are limitless, in a time when regurgitating the same storylines has become something of a mainstream trend.
For all the initial suspense, Forget Me Not quickly becomes predictable with a compact set of characters and setting. It’s not hard to guess what’s actually happening.
The narrative also drags at certain instances and you just wish for the plot to pick up pace at times. Some of the loose threads are never tied and you could be left with several questions.
Bahrupiya can also drag at times but the shorter runtime helps in keeping the viewers engaged for the big reveal.
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa is the strongest of the four and promises exactly what it can execute in less than an hour, there’s hardly anything to point out.
As fun as Spotlight can be at moments, it’s not as smooth as some of the other stories, and there’s too much happening, often with too little explanation.
There’s more to love about Ray than dislike. The quality isn’t consistent, some episodes are superior to others, but overall, it’s a solid outing by Netflix.
Watch Ray for its unique and intriguing storylines, and stellar performances from the ensemble cast.