July 26, 2021
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I Added A Darker Element To Ray’s Stories: Srijit Mukherji

In conversation with Outlook, director Srijit Mukherji and actors Ali Fazal and Shweta Basu Prasad talk about their experiences in preparing for the ‘Ray’ world.

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I Added A Darker Element To Ray’s Stories: Srijit Mukherji
Srijit Mukherji is a National award winning Bengali filmmaker
I Added A Darker Element To Ray’s Stories: Srijit Mukherji

A revolutionary film maker, an auteur, and the creator of the iconic ‘Feluda’ series, Satyajit Ray is also celebrated for writing some of the best short stories India has ever seen. Vastly varying in genre and style, these stories are full of thrills, twists and turns with a strong emotional core keeping you completely hooked till the end. For the first time ever, Netflix has curated stories under Ray.

More than giving a modern take on Ray’s stories, director Srijit Mukherji mentions that he sought to make it look darker. Background, setting and context gives a modern look.

Mukherji says, “We added darker elements to it and women characters were not there either in ‘Bohurupi’ or in Bepin Choudhury’s ‘Smritibhrom’. And most importantly the revelation. We have driven home the nightmare beyond the last human check point. Now that is something which is an addition to the mood of the crisis built by Ray. So, it is not an adaptation, but more like an inspiration. My choice of these two stories is also driven from the fact that it allowed the spiralling up of darkness.”

Ray anthology is a collection of short stories written by Satyajit Ray and the characters have evolved a lot keeping pace with the modern world. Talking about his exposure to Satyajit Ray’s work, actor Ali Fazal who will be seen as ‘Ipsit Nair’, in one of the short films of ‘Ray’ anthology, admits that he got introduced to Satyajit Ray very late in his life.

Ali says, “I managed to watch ‘Pather Panchali’ which may appear to be a cliched answer, but I watched it at least three to four times and each time it was a different experience for me. ‘Shatranj Ke Khilari’ is also my all-time favourite. Then there is a short film called ‘Two’ which I am very fond of, and it is for just twelve minutes. Ray’s movies reached out to everybody and even if you don’t understand the language, you can still understand the narrative.”

Srijit who has won ten national awards feels that while making films, he doesn’t think about awards. But he makes films just for the joy of it. When asked about his awards he says, “I just got lucky (laughs). It’s something you don’t keep in mind when you make a film. I love making films. After that whether you get a national award or whether it goes to Cannes, Berlin, Venice, box office hit or not is like a bonus. You don’t plan these things. I make films for myself, and I keep my fingers crossed that a lot of people who think like me will like it. I also hope that the number of people who like the film is sufficient enough for the producer to give me my next film. So, this is the cycle that I follow. And as long as the cycle is maintained, I am happy.”

Shweta Basu Prasad who is there in one of the short films of Ray anthology, ‘Forget Me Not’ is happy to be a part of Ray world. Her first introduction to Ray was when she watched ‘Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen’ as a kid followed by ‘Shonar Kellla’ and of course there was ‘Devi’, ‘Charulata’, ‘Nayak’ and ‘Jalsaghar’. She says, “I have grown up watching a lot of Satyajit Ray films and I also read a lot of Satyajit Ray short stories. Although I am brought up in Mumbai, my Bengali roots are pretty strong and culturally also cinema, literature and music are celebrated at home. So, there has been a Ray influence in my formative years.”


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