Word to screen: Taking a shot at Satyajit Ray

Filmmakers Srijit Mukherji and Vasan Bala and creator-showrunner Sayantan Mukherjee talk to Namrata Joshi on interpreting Ray’s short stories for Viacom18 Studios production soon dropping on Netflix

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Namrata Joshi

It is the centenary year of one of India’s most renowned and multi-faceted icons—filmmaker, writer, illustrator, calligrapher, composer, in short, the Renaissance Man Satyajit Ray. To celebrate the abiding magic of Ray, Netflix brings a unique anthology series in which three of India’s young, contemporary filmmakers bring Ray’s celebrated stories to life on screen with a touch of their own.

Sayantan Mukherjee is the creator/showrunner of the series with Niren Bhatt and Siraj Ahmed as the writers. Srijit Mukherji makes Forget Me Not inspired from “Bipin Chowdhury’r Smritibhrom” (Bipin Chowdhury’s Memory Loss) starring Ali Fazal and Shweta Basu Prasad. He also adapts “Bahurupi” as Bahurupiya with Kay Kay Menon, Bidita Bag and Dibyendu Bhattacharya playing the major roles. His aim was to take the original texts into darker zone.

Vasan Bala directs Harshvarrdhan Kapoor, Radhika Madan and Chandan Roy Sanyal in Spotlight, a story that helped him realise his ambition of making a movie about moviemaking.

Abhishek Chaubey takes a shot at “Barin Bhowmik-er Byaram” (Barin Bhowmik’s Ailment) in Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa that promises to be a compelling jugalbandi of two of India’s most talented actors, Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao.

In an extended conversation, Sayantan, Srijit and Vasan spoke to National Herald about his many talents, what sets Ray’s writing apart, why they picked up the specific stories of Ray, how they adapted them and improvised with the new settings and time period and how they integrated their own filmmaking sensibilities with Ray’s genius. They also dwell on Ray’s staggering legacy and if at all it’s daunting to work with his much-revered inheritance.

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