Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! Satyanveshi!

By Sunil Kumar

Does India have a shortage of home-grown detectives? Most critics may answer with a resounding “Yes“? No Poirot; modeled on the classically cerebral Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson; Byomkesh Bakshy is the Bengali watered-down version of Britannia!

Sherlock Holmes

Visit sunil-kumar.co.in Sherlock Holmes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Compared to the Rajit Kapur version on Doordarshan; Dibakar Banerjee‘s “Byomkesh Bakshy” is slicker in terms of art direction and sensual imagery. But; while Satyajit Ray‘s Pradosh Mitter aka Feluda is more anglicized and coldly logical; Byomkesh Bakshy is earthy, street-smart and even has a love interest.

So; is the morally idealistic search for truth so much hogwash? Clearly influenced by the colonial British; Byomkesh Bakshy gives us intriguing twists and turns; but in the dingy and dusty bylanes of Kolkata‘s shady Chinatown. The seductress in this movie; Swastika Mukherjee generates some interest but the effect is of a sluggish whodunit that would have been served better by some even more fast-paced action.

Hard work is evident in every frame of the movie; but news that Dibakar Banerjee and Yash Raj films have bought up rights for the nearly 33 stories written by Saradindu Bandyopadhyay make the ardent fan a little queasy. There should be other talented filmmakers who will come up with their versions of the Bengali detective on screen; and so limiting is not beneficial in the interests of creativity; something which the filmmaker would certainly vouch for.

Coming to the story; 1943 Kolkata is an interesting setup; and if Banerjee could have leveraged the city a la the more riveting Vidya Balan starrer “Kahaani”; we could have been in for a more thrilling ride. Watching the movie; I felt that some parts were absolutely amazing; but others were drab and coarse.

An over-the-top villain screaming “Byomkesh Bakshy” in the final scene seems to be setting up a sequel; and if the director wants us to be entertained the next time around; he better direct a more thrilling narrative.

 

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