Ray review: Half full and half empty!
The movie has four-film anthology inspired by Satyajit Ray’s stories
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 2.5/5
Monday 28 June 2021
Ray review: Half full and half empty!
Srijit Mukherji, Vasan Bala and Abhishek Chaubey
Harshvarrdhan Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon, Maoj Bajpayee, Gajraj Rao, Ali Fazal
There are some common elements in this four-film anthology inspired by Satyajit Ray’s stories. For one, the films talk about mental health with characters suffering from extreme insecurity, kleptomania to deeper imbalances like possible memory loss and schizophrenia. All four end with an unexpected turn, what we more casually call a ‘twist’. And all four films are disappointingly centered round and directed by men. Indeed, this is a manel version of a film anthology!
Spotlight has superstar Vikram (Harshvarrdhan Kapoor) and his pushy but well-meaning assistant (Chandan Roy Sanyal) constantly at loggerheads.We see them argue about a potential Hollywood movie audition and a mosquito net ad, with Vikram thinking both are beneath him. A succinct description of his personality would be that he throws the words ‘Kafkaesque nightmare’ in a conversation without knowing what it means. And that he wears a jacket with ‘Artist’ written on it. His omnipresent insecurity is fueled when his popularity is overshadowed by renowned god woman ‘Didi’. Their invisible battle takes shape in the form of childish things like who will get the better hotel room and front-page coverage. But he can’t seem to compete with her committed following. Even the hotel’s horse statue is blessed with the blue colouring on the forehead—a symbol of Didi’s blessings. Directed by Vasant Bala, the story starts off being interesting with a great background score and performances, but loses punch towards the end.
Forget Me Not
In Forget Me Not, we explore the life of a successful businessman known for his infallible memory, who can’t recollect a few days in his life. All evidence points out to a short-lived fling with a woman on his 30th birthday. But he simply cannot remember. This leads to him losing grip on his own mind and a descent into self-doubt. Ironically, his favourite flowers are forget-me-nots. Director Srijit Mukherjee employs yet another clever trick in showing a Drishyam clip in the background (where a character is being convinced of a memory they have no recollection of). Like most stories in the anthology, Forget Me Not has a great buildup but doesn’t really come together. Ali Fazal’s spirited performance is commendable and one of the film’s highlights.
Bahrupiya, also directed by Srijit Mukherjee, tells us the story of Indrashish, a master of disguise. He inherited his grandmother’s talent for prosthetic makeup and also her volume with step-by-step instructions. Kay Kay Menon is superb as the man with many faces, such that he doesn’t know which one is real. Is he schizophrenic, we wonder? Or do his narcissistic tendencies get triggered when he cannot handle rejection by society? The most immersing portions of the story are when Indrashish wants to challenge a clairvoyant ‘peer baba’ who has the ability to read faces. When the clairvoyant sees right though him, Indrashish wants to fool him and ‘win’. Again, a great character with a story that starts off engagingly but falls flat towards the end. Those who like films with gratuitous shock value may enjoy this one.
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa (directed by Abhishek Chaubey) is the star of the anthology, unfolding like a sweet fable about a celebrated ghazal singer Musafir Ali and his guilt for having stolen co-passenger Aslam’s watch. The watch known to bring good fortune to whoever owns it, elevated the singerfrom the status of struggler to celebrity, while Aslam Baig fell on hard times. He knows he has a disease he can barely pronounce (kleptomania) and when fate brings the two co-passengers together after a decade, we wait to see what will unfold. Masterful performances by Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao with crackling dialogue and wit, makes this film the cream of the crop.
(Ray is now streaming on Netflix)
Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra2
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