It’s become almost customary for any Satyajit Ray adaptation to receive rave reviews. So it’s safe to say that the people behind this anthology knew what they were getting themselves into. Nonetheless, they took on the job of reinventing the master storyteller’s short stories, which have long had devoted fan bases, and created this new series. The four shorts in this web series inspire varied sentiments in the audience, and the limits between strange and chuckle-inducing quirkiness are blurred.
Srijit, staying true to his own style of thrillers and adaptations of iconic Bengali fictional characters, moved ahead with the storey about the arrogance of a man with an extraordinary memory and an as outstanding attitude to match. He did, however, add his own twist by moving away from the humble abode depicted in the storey and instead giving his characters penthouses in Lower Parel, with Ali Fazal playing the alpha male and as a person who finds himself on a downward spiral after a seemingly chance meeting with someone from his ‘past.’
When Ray first published the tale about three decades ago, it was relatable to the youngsters of the day, and it continues to be so for today’s children. Ray’s stories appear to be intriguing void times. However, there have been numerous such thrillers on the big screen in recent years. And, despite the technical flourishes that Srijit could not avoid, the plot that could have had you on the edge of your seat falls flat.
There is one commendable quality in Srijit’s retelling of the story: he has attempted to give women importance, which was not included in Ray’s original version of the story. Aside from that, any additional mention of any sequences from this film should be avoided, as they would be spoilers.
The Four Shorts of Satyajit Ray’s Stories
As previously stated, Srijit appears to have a stronger grip on Bahurumpiya, which is situated in the alleys of Kolkata and has a Jekyll-Hyde-meets-Joker type of character. Kay Kay Menon plays the titular character in this short, and he has complete control over him. This short is a psychological thriller with a gruesome twist at the conclusion, and it is a symbol of Srijit, who has also co-written and directed a Bengali psychological thriller with the similar atmosphere called Vinci Da. Clearly, he is enthralled by this subject. One thing is certain about this short: if it had been shorter, it would have had a considerably greater impact.
The third short, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, takes a different path. It is more amusing and entertaining for the audience to watch. The twist is that the guy who gives the fun and eccentricity to the short has a ‘beemari’ that is literally and metaphorically miles away from its beginnings in Bhopal and Old Delhi. Abhishek Chaubey, who is clearly drawn to Ray’s subtle, tongue-in-cheek humour, has performed his part in a way that is authentic to the original material and his performers. The chemistry between Manoj Bajpai and Gajraj Rao in the series appears to be reminiscent of Ishqiya.
When it came to Vasan Bala’s short, his point of view was the most combative and experimental of the four. It entails redesigning the characters, as well as how they are handled and the tale is told. Bala incorporates female characters into the tale in the same way that Srijit has. It’s about a star who suddenly loses his X-factor when an unforeseen opponent enters his life. Harsh Vardhan Kapoor has played the character beautifully, yet others may view his efforts as eager to draw your attention to the fanboy homage peppered throughout the frames. While these are unquestionably positive aspects, the short is not without flaws.
Reviews and Opinions
What should have been a cutting satire on star ego and insecurity turned into a self-indulgent ode to the master, bringing forth Bala’s characteristic irreverence. Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor appears to have repeated his AK against AK character, complete with swagger, while Radhika Madan is as intriguing as the Godwoman ‘Didi.’ Any likeness to any character, dead or alive, cannot be a coincidence, can it? As the ultimate hero’s companion, Chandan Roy Sanyal stands out from the crowd.
That being said, if you have Satyajit Ray’s novels ingrained in your head, it will be tough for you to believe that these film shorts are not unfair to Ray’s versions. Ray has his own unique style of haunting plots, incisive writing, and subtle drama; the stories deal with everything from the supernatural to real crimes, horror to human foolishness, and this is what drew and kept his readers faithful. Despite the fact that some of his stories had a dark tone and strange endings, there was always Ray’s profound humanism to return to in Satyajit Ray’s short stories.