Sujoy Ghosh’s cinema has always had nuggets of Satyajit Ray’s work hidden in them. Various scenes in Kahaani (2012) were inspired by Ray’s films such as Charulata and Nayak. His short film Ahalya (2015) too had strong similarities with Ray’s science-fiction story Professor Shonku O Aschorjo Putul (Professor Shonku and the Strange Doll).
Ghosh has finally adapted a short story by Ray. Anukul, adapted from the story of the same name, stars Saurabh Shukla as Kolkata resident Nikunj, who hires an android housekeeper Anukul (Parambrata Chatterjee). Anukul is a polite, well-meaning robot and he shares an amiable relationship with Nikunj, which is suddenly disturbed on the arrival of Nikunj’s irritable cousin Ratan (Kharaj Mukherkjee).
Several parts of the film are extremely faithful to Ray’s story, including fine details such as Anukul’s costume (a light-blue checked shirt and black half pants). Ghosh’s primary addition to the story is the typical humans-against-machines trope prevalent in science fiction.
Ghosh makes the task of adapting the Bengali science fiction story into a short Hindi film look effortless. Closing in at 21 minutes, Anukul is a well-made short that shows the strong potential of films adapted from Ray’s literature if his son Sandip Ray can only part with the rights to far more interesting filmmakers than him.