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Netflix's Ray Makers Say They'll Ensure Next Part Has Woman Director: We'd Approached Meghna, Gauri

By: Shrishti Negi


Last Updated: June 30, 2021, 11:25 IST

Netflix's Ray Makers Say They'll Ensure Next Part Has Woman Director: We'd Approached Meghna, Gauri

Netflix's anthology series 'Ray', based on legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's four stories, has received mixed reviews.

Netflix’s anthology series Ray, based on legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s four stories, recently debuted on the streamer and has evoked mixed reactions from viewers. The anthology released in Ray’s centenary year consists of Srijit Mukherji’s ‘Forget Me Not’ and ‘Bahrupiya,’ Abhishek Chaubey’s ‘Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa’ and Vasan Bala’s ‘Spotlight’. Sayantan Mukherjee, who serves as the showrunner on the series, revealed that he had originally approached several directors for the project but things couldn’t materialise due to scheduling conflict. “We went to almost everyone,” he said when asked if a woman director was considered to helm any of the episodes. “There was no such conversation in our mind that let’s go to a male or a female director. We didn’t think like that.”

Ajit Andhare, who is the COO of Viacom 18 studios which has bankrolled the project, said that they had rights to 12 stories of Ray and they would hopefully collaborate with a woman director in the next part of the anthology series. He, however, added that they had approached Meghna Gulzar and Gauri Shinde for the recently released series.

“It was many times the practical issues for us. For instance, I remember we approached Meghna. We also approached Gauri Shinde. We still have 12 stories and this is just the first set so there will be an occasion for us to steer clear of that gender accusation. But we had definitely approached them but for various practical reasons it sort of didn’t work out. But I’m sure it will in the fullness of time,” Ajit said.

Talking about the process of getting the rights to adapt Ray’s stories, Sayantan said, “I didn’t feel it to be very difficult. I went to his son’s house two-three times. I sat with him and had tea and some good food. We bonded well and I think he just gave it to me because he thought I was just a young boy asking for 12 stories. So, it wasn’t difficult. At that time, I don’t think I also had a vision of exactly how this was going to pan out but I told him that I was going to make it quite nice, big and fun. And, he just gave it to me after the third meeting. He was like, ‘Okay, tell me how many you want?’ That’s how it happened. So, I think I got really lucky.” Sayantan was speaking at the Dial M for Films session where he was also joined by Srijit, Abhishek and Vasan.

From finding financers to directors and finally the right platform to release the series, Sayantan faced several challenges to bring these four short stories from the celebrated auteur and writer to life. Srijit Mukherji was one of the first people to come on board the project along with Siraj Ahmed, who wrote Bahrupiya.

“When I told Ajit about this idea he got more excited than I was. In the meantime, Srijit and I were talking about 50-60 other projects because Srijit always has some 100 projects in his mind. Then we both discussed Ray and he also wanted to do something like this. We realised that we have an idea and we also have a maker so let’s go with this. After that getting the rights was thankfully not that difficult.

“I met Abhishek before Vasan and I pitched him 2-3 stories. And, I really wanted him to do the psychological thrillers and horror ones because in my mind I thought those were Abhishek Chaubey’s films and he picked Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa. I think the moment he picked Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa I got really excited because I knew he really believed in it. Then Vasan and I had a long chat on Spotlight and about what this industry is and how everybody is dealing here. I think from there Spotlight originated.”

How did they approach the stories in the context of today? Sayantan said, “We weren’t trying to modernise anything. Because I think the stories are very modern if you read the original ones. Abhishek’s story is not even based in today’s time per se so the idea was if you are taking it out of Bengal then how you can explore it and see other cultures through it and find some other relevance through it. That was the overall thematic connection between all the stories.

“When we wrote Forget Me Not and Bahrupiya, these were for us the best ways we thought we could tell stories it was never like, “let’s make dark and modern stories.” We didn’t have a platform when we made Bahrupiya but we were really excited about it so Srijit and I just thought that let’s make a pilot. Ajit really supported us. He really wanted to just go and make a pilot even though there was no platform attached. I don’t know how he took that call but thank god he did it because we ended up making Bahrupiya. We struggled a lot while shooting it. We didn’t have the Netflix budgets per se at that time. But I think the good thing is that Srijit is so used to working on lesser budgets, in fact, he enjoys it. So, I think that really worked out.”

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first published:June 29, 2021, 14:00 IST
last updated:June 30, 2021, 11:25 IST