Calcutta. Cha aar singhada. Country savaged by war, cities torn by partition and hatred. People in clutches of political propaganda and heist, witnessing victims of brutal animosity. Saradindu Bandhapadhyay’s witty and courageous Byomkesh Bakshi.
Well, for me, Byomkesh Bakshi embodies the waters of above. And surprisingly, he hasn’t been an ardent flavor of Cinema, as such. Satyajit Ray’s Chiriakhana, amongst the few, stands out. Ray’s class of realistic horticulture and Mahanayak’s belligerent performance made a cult out of it. Basu Chatterji’s Byomkesh was a television icon and I used to go crazy to see a young, lanky detective solving unusual mysteries with his writer-friend, Ajit Banerjee.
Honestly, I have not watched much of the contemporary Byomkesh. Though, would love to.
Let’s come back to Dibakar Banerjee’s Byomkesh Bakshi.
I must admit, was indeed a tad apprehensive about DBs Byomkesh. Evidently, I hate spoilers of legends. At the pretext of rejuvenating classics, we sometimes, churn shit out of garbage and package it with EFX to poke the audience. Worst, we buy it, eat popcorn and there ends the myriad story.
Thankfully, no fingers burnt.
Its the first episode, wherein Byomkesh encounters crime and his to-be partner, Ajit in a series of embroiled kit. The way Byomkesh is thrown at us is quite reluctant – arrogant but with a piece of an intelligent eye. We hate protruding people in our lives, and Byomkesh kettles himself with youthful bogeys to trade an investigation.
DB is aware of Byomkesh’s preceding reputation, and collages his characters carefully. And, to an extent, he succeeds at will. Couple of sequences with Ajit stood out for his uncanny resolve and respect for his relationships. If you have followed Byomkesh closely, he does remain aloof but treasures his novice helpers – Ajit and later, the oblivious Satyavati. Tales of treason loom large as Byomkesh gets embroiled in a lethal game of conspiracy and power hordes.
Few sequences stood out for sheer gobble mania – Gajanan Sikdar’s death scene, his frequent tabs with Ajit and bullish conversations around his dad’s disappearance, escape through the black cab and subsequent blood splatters in the dentist’s clinic, the roundtable climax with veritable protagonists. Byomkesh’s legend couldn’t have a better start in the tinsel world.
Byomkesh and Calcutta are an inseparable couple. The partition fed city, the usual flair of Calcutta streets, the Sealdah bound tram in Shyambazar, newspapers smirched with the next bombing tales, the morning bath in the water pipes across the streets, the Esplanade signal and the conspicuous hand laden rickshaws.
Sushant Singh Rajput as Byomkesh is convincingly astute. His partner in crime, Ajit as Anand Tiwari does a neat job. Other notable characters come in small packages and rally around the plot diligently. But Neeraj Kabi as Anukul Guha is astounding. His caveat of emotions, a chameleon like naiveness and staggering screen presence is stamped all over this mystery tale.
Dibakar Banerjee has triggered a fortune, and I want filmmakers to lead the baton ahead.