Director: Satyajit Ray
Arguably, the most accessible of all Ray films. Using the narrative frame of a superstar (a superb Uttam Kumar) closeted in a train, Nayak examines the nature of fame, the dialectic between high and low art and the price of ambition. Every single frame and plot device serve to emphasize the multiple ironies Ray wants to bring to focus. In the role of an editor of a fledgling woman’s magazine that focuses on serious issues, Sharmila Tagore, poses questions that gently peel away the layers of conceit that envelope the superstar. Uttam Kumar lives the role; masking his inner turmoil and the debt he carries on his conscience to reach the top of his profession. A slightly underappreciated masterpiece by the master.
Normal People (2018)
Author: Sally Rooney
There’s a casual cruelty in Sally Rooney’s Normal People that propels the story of two academically bright, small-town youngsters as they navigate their transition from teenagers to adulthood. This is an exquisite piece of work going over the familiar territory of young love with a piercing gaze and affection that will turn even the most cynical to long for them to come together. They never quite come together but what the story achieves, spectacularly, is that ultimate denouement of true love – it changes the two people for better. The book and Rooney deserve all the plaudits and rave reviews. Fun fact: Rooney isn’t 30 yet.