Book Versus Film: Ray 

There’s no different feeling on this planet like studying Satyajit Ray’s brief tales, in Bengali if you’re fortunate: distinctive, genre-bending mindfucks that may very well be about something, however nearly at all times an train in suspense constructing that reveals the mysterious workings of the human thoughts. They’re in regards to the unconscious, reminiscence, worry, anxiousness, and coincidences. A part of the pleasure is the writing itself: clear, economical, and faultless. These tales, ageless as they’re, have been written for the Bengali youngsters’s magazines primarily focused at a teen readership, and typically offers with parts of horror (Khagam; Fritz; Brihocchonchu), or sci-fi (Bonkubabu’r Bondhu, that served as the idea of his Hollywood screenplay, The Alien). A few of them make you need to attain out for that phrase, “unfilmable”, however then, what’s filmable anyway? The filmmakers (Srijit Mukherji, Abhishek Chaubey, Vasan Bala) who’ve directed Ray, a brand new Netflix anthology collection, got a alternative of tales to select from—what enjoyable! It’s a sport, a contest, a problem, . 

It’s good to take a look at the movies from the attitude of the tales as a result of it takes you nearer to the place the filmmakers are coming from: what they do with the tales assist you to perceive what they do, the methods they attempt to translate literature to cinema, how creatively they do it, and in the event that they do it in type. One factor is for sure—nobody is ready to emulate the minimalism of the tales (perhaps to an extent, Chaubey) and going into the movies anticipating no loss in translation is naive, and uninformed. The superb opening credit, with daring graphic type like Ray’s personal, and a theme besides, does a neat job in plunging us into the worlds of the tales. Now, over to the movies: 

Bipin Chowdhuryr Smritibhrom/Overlook Me Not 

Followers of Ray’s brief tales are conscious of his weak spot for a selected trope: revenge designed as elaborate pranks. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a trick he’s used one too many instances, as handy resolutions in tales comparable to Highlight and Bipin Chowdhury’r Smritibhrom (Bipin Chowdhury’s Lapse of Reminiscence). Within the latter, Bipin babu is struck by the thriller of a lacking reminiscence: a extremely environment friendly, top-rung worker in an organization, he appears to have forgotten one, and just one, reminiscence: a visit to Ranchi he apparently made 9 years in the past. He shrugs it off at first however it quickly begins to bug the hell out of him. He calls up buddies (who verify the occasion), visits a shrink, and takes a visit to Ranchi within the hope that it’ll set off again misplaced recollections. 

When the final choice doesn’t work, an actual worry grips Bipin babu: Is he dropping his thoughts. Will he, like his youthful brother, find yourself within the psychological asylum? Mukherji scales every little thing a number of notches up in his adaptation of the story: his Ipsit Rama Nair (Ali Fazal) is a hotshot, tremendous profitable entrepreneur residing in Mumbai; the frilly prank is much more elaborate (and in consequence extra convoluted); his misdeeds are graver, and the value he pays for them a lot, a lot greater.

Book Versus Film: Ray , Film Companion

The story loses a few of its efficiency the second it’s not about one reminiscence anymore, however numerous lapses that comply with Ipsit, and there are stretches the place Mukherji loses management over the storytelling. However the place the movie works is constructing a bodily world across the psychological scape of the character, the gleaming surfaces of glass-and-chrome structure that embody his soullessness, and a low-register digital rating that provides to it. Surreal dream sequences (echoes of Ray’s Nayak) pop up in a multiplex and a parking zone. One sequence is especially efficient: when Ipsit reaches the Ellora caves (a stand-in for Ranchi within the authentic story) in the hunt for his lacking reminiscence—as if it’s enjoying hide-and-seek with him—every little thing else mimics the motion: the digital camera motion, sound design (echoes of laughter), music (eerie), location (the maze like structure of the temples, particular impact methods (there are two Ali Fazals in a single body).

A sleekly designed uniformity displays in all of the departments: from the costumes to the pacing to the manufacturing design. It’s proof what an enormous distinction it makes when you might have top-notch collaborators. Cinematographer Swapnil Sonawane (Newton, Sacred Video games), editor Nitin Baid (Gangs of Wasseypur, Masaan, Gully Boy), Peter Cat Recording Co and others in music, carry immense worth to the manufacturing. It’s been some time I’ve favored something Mukherji has made, and this could be his most technically subtle work until date. One thing about working in a model new setup—that features a fresh-faced forged (led by a charismatic Fazal, who dives into the function and loses himself in it)—appears to have clicked.


One of many primary pleasures of Ray’s brief story is the protagonist Nikunja Saha’s experiments with make-up—the demise of whose uncle leaves him with sufficient cash to stop his job and pursue his ardour as full-time leisure. It’s a bizarre pastime that turns into obsession. Ray does’t choose him for it—his tales are filled with loners, typically single, who’ve their quirks. Nikunja Saha is pushed by the pure pleasure of fooling folks with the magic of make-up, going to the native tea store and seeing his buddies being unable to recognise him, or surprising his subsequent door neighbour by taking off that faux beard and wig.

Book Versus Film: Ray , Film Companion

Nevertheless, in his adaptation of the story, Srijit Mukherji desires to offer him a much bigger purpose. The character, rechristened Indrashish Saha (Kay Kay Menon), is became a sociopath. Within the first scene, the lady he loves grabs his crotch and breaks his coronary heart. It’s not exhausting to guess the place that goes: our meek, center class Bengali clerk—who’s, at greatest, a cross between Bob Biswas from Kahaani and Tushar Kapoor in Gayab—goes to avenge the lady, his unhealthy boss, his khadoos neighbour, and so forth. The place Mukherji ought to have gone Stranger Issues, he goes all Joker. Nevertheless it’s exhausting to sympathise with the character, or root for, with awful make-up no much less.

Book Versus Film: Ray , Film Companion

Ray’s thrilling story performs like an journey hurtling towards horror, when Nikunja, bored of his antics in Calcutta, decides to check his make-up abilities in entrance of a sanyasi in Tarapith, that place of the holy and the unholy, tantrik legends and cult practises—an unimaginable passage within the ebook that Ray describes with vivid audio-visual prospects. You get the sensation that Mukherji (and screenwriter Siraj Ahmad) has made too many pointless alterations to what was already ripe for cinema: they complicate the plot by giving Abhirup a number of motivations behind his con jobs, and an prolonged function for peer baba (a cannily forged Dibyendu Bhattacharya), the sanyasi counterpart, who seems twice. And in doing so, he misses out on the important parts of Bohurupi: the curse of the sanyasi that follows Nikunja to Calcutta, the skinny line between paranoia and paranormal, and the acutely aware and the unconscious. An historic epithet calls to thoughts: If ain’t broke, don’t repair it. 

Barin Bhowmicker Byaram/Hungama Hai Kyun Barpa 

Typical knowledge says devoted diversifications are simpler to do. The argument is—what’s the filmmaker’s contribution, if all he’s doing is sticking to the supply textual content? It’s a judgement made on the presumption {that a} filmmaker is primarily a storyteller, not a movie artist who can strategise easy methods to translate these very concepts into cinema, quite than making alterations that swimsuit him. Abhishek Chaubey’s adaptation of Ray’s brief story (Bipin Bhowmick’s Ailment, in English) stand aside from the remainder as a result of it’s essentially the most honest, uncynical adaptation of the textual content, which says an incredible deal about his confidence in his personal craft. It’s additionally the neatest alternative for 2 causes: one, by selecting a narrative—a one-setting, two-character story—he narrows down his space of operation (and subsequently, liberates himself to be as inventive as potential inside that framework); two, by transposing the setting to the misplaced world of Awadhi etiquette, he makes a seamless transition from Ray’s world to his personal. Ray’s Barin Bhowmick—a singer who’s touring by prepare from Calcutta to carry out by invitation at a musical programme organised by the Bengali affiliation in Delhi—turns into Chaubey’s Musafir Ali (Manoj Bajpayee), a ghazal singer who’s travelling from Bhopal to Delhi. 

Book Versus Film: Ray , Film Companion

Ray’s brief tales are written like a operating voice within the head of the protagonist, and Barin Bhowmick simply isn’t capable of place the place he has seen his solely co-passenger (Gajraj Rao) he’s sharing his chamber with. And as soon as he remembers that this is identical man whose Swiss touring clock he had nicked, on an analogous prepare journey a number of years in the past, he’s attempting to second guess if the person has recognised him, and vice versa. That is tougher to do in movie than in literature: we are able to hearken to the voice in his head, and be simply transported to their prepare journey up to now. How does Chaubey (and author Niren Bhatt) make it visible? He finds a easy resolution to indicate that these each males get a sense that they’ve seen one another, by making them bodily bump in opposition to one another’s again (whereas attempting to deposit their baggage within the higher bunks) prompting them to trade a look, after which one other.

Even earlier than Musafir has received on the prepare, we get an impression that he’s a romantic who loves adulation of his admirers—illustrated by a scene with two swooning feminine followers, considered one of who, delightfully lifts the veil of her burkha to smile. And even earlier than he meets Rao, we get a dreamy cutaway to a surreal mushaira by the use of a mirror. It units up the muse for extra such cutaways, easing the trail for passages that can take us nearer to Musafir’s thoughts, and flashbacks that can take us to the sooner prepare journey. And through the use of the mirror as a tool to change between the current and Musafir’s imaginary world, Chaubey liberates the movie from spatial realism—later within the movie, doorways, and extra mirrors are used.

Book Versus Film: Ray , Film Companion

It’s not that he makes use of these cutaways solely when he wants to make use of them as portal to get the place the story calls for—that will make it monotonous. To maintain a visible consistency, Chaubey additionally makes use of it in an everyday scene that reveals a dialog between Bajpayee and Rao on their earlier prepare journey, when the clock in query turns into an enormous graphic scene-transition gadget, transporting the 2 males right into a void of clean, black vastness.  

Ray’s story is about utterly contained in the prepare. So how else does he break the monotony? By giving Musafir a backstory, by inserting episodes just like the Raghubir Yadav observe—who’s both a maulvi, or a hakim, or each; or a wizard, who not solely articulates Musafir’s sickness but additionally suggests a method to pronounce it—Ki-le-pato…maa-ni-ya—and prescribes as drugs…one other sickness: a lifetime of music and shayeri. There’s yet another issue that informs Chaubey’s impressed alternative of setting; Urdu is essentially the most musical, and aurally pleasurable, of all Indian languages. And if I’ve to see two actors discuss in a room, it’d quite be a Bajpayee-Rao jugalbandi, relishing their strains and yielding such comedian gems because the confusion between paimana and paikhana. 


The primary few paragraphs of Ray’s brief story revolve round film star Angshuman Chatterjee. After which, it form of forgets about him. The setting is Chhotanagpur, the place the narrator’s household has gone for his or her annual Puja vacation. The entry of a 126-year-old man—who may very well be the oldest man alive—fairly actually takes the highlight away from him. From the story being ALL about Chatterjee, it turns into ALL about this super-centenarian, who enchants guests with tales from a time when Calcutta had horse-drawn trams, and seeing Tagore carry out recitations at cultural occasions was no huge deal. Angshuman Chatterjee is talked about once more solely in direction of the tip, after we are informed that he left the place sooner than he was purported to, most likely as a result of he was unable to simply accept that he was now not the lifetime of the celebration. 

Book Versus Film: Ray , Film Companion

If Ray’s story turns into all about the one that steals the highlight, leaving how the star should have felt to the reader’s creativeness, Bala imagines it and makes all of it in regards to the star. He and author Niren Bhatt shifts the setting to a luxurious resort presumably someplace in Rajasthan, that has been taken over by a North Indian non secular cult chief and her cabals. That’s just about the place the similarities finish. From right here, Bala goes on his personal lengthy, unpredictable journey that proves that the “spirit-of-the-original” idea is just not with out exceptions. That is Ray reimagined as a stoner comedy, with Bala’s movie-mad filtering: a shaggy canine story the place the Bollywood star, and Juhu-bred cinephile brat, Vik Arora (a superbly useless Harshvardhan Kapoor, in on the joke), undergoes an incredible disaster and finally overcomes it.

Book Versus Film: Ray , Film Companion

As in Ray’s Nayak, it’s each a critique and a personality research, and as in Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Probability, it’s each a satire and a love letter to Bollywood; Vik hopes to realize the inventive nirvana he’s in search of by staying in a room that had as soon as hosted Madonna; it hurts his ego when the resort authorities ask him to vacate his room for the cult chief (mysteriously titled ‘Didi’, that feels like Mamata Banerjee, but additionally rhymes with one other real-life “cult chief” with a blind following). Highlight is the form of film that wouldn’t exist if there have been no motion pictures earlier than it. Hats are doffed and echoed again—just like the mirror reflection scene in Luck By Probability; Vik will get a dose of his personal drugs when a bunch of youngsters, taking a look at him, from exterior the glass home windows of a restaurant, flip their consideration to a passing procession of ‘Didi’. Vik lounges all day with a half-smoked joint in hand, and in a really critical dialog together with his girlfriend, he goes, ‘Dude, that’s identical to your opinion, man’. Actual conversations merge into wordplays (‘Mirchandani/Macchardani’; ‘Pritish/British’) that merge into film references. Rhymes abound, as is suitable for a tribute to somebody for who nonsense humour runs within the household. Bala mounts his motion pictures like Edgar Wright’s small-scale, ingenious style flicks. The jokes and gags are there, however so is huge drama. The intelligent climactic motion set piece works on an inside logic, as if endowed with the superpowers granted by the movie’s Bhooter Raja impressed sequence, the psychedelia of which is marked by jazz drumming and a blast of neon colors. 

Highlight is a robust contender for the number one movie of the anthology for 2 causes. One, it’s mad enjoyable. Two, it liberates Ray from the shackles of property conservatism. Bala has completed with a Ray property what Bengali filmmakers weren’t allowed to think about of their wildest desires. The Feluda tales are nonetheless unavailable for Bengali filmmakers—solely just lately has it been permitted to be completed as net collection; and the brief tales weren’t accessible till now. Positive, it’s simpler for a Hindi filmmaker to take action from a secure distance, and the true revolution will likely be anyone makes an attempt a Feluda on acid, defying purist backlash. However no less than, this can be a begin.

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