My reference point to Byomkesh Bakshy is the 1993 serial on Door Darshan, directed by Basu Chatterjee. The serial was superbly directed by Basu da and amazingly acted by Rajit Kapoor.
I am not familiar with the literary work of Sharadindu Bandopadhyay, but thoroughly enjoyed this series during my childhood. While remembering all these pleasant thoughts, I just realized that the director of the new Byomkesh movie Dibakar Banerjee, actually looks and sounds pretty much like the ‘old’ Byomkesh (Rajit Kapoor).
Checkout this video interview to validate my thought:
Now coming back to the new movie, the promos were very unlikely of the image that I had in mind of Byomkesh. Loud rock music and samurai wielding Japanese/Chinese references made me think if this is going to be a completely different take on the character. However, the movie somewhat took a middle path and gave us a character that is a fresh take as well as has the same old world charm.
The movie starts with a writer Ajit looking for Byomkesh to seek his help in order to search for his missing father. Earlier showing reluctance towards the issue, Byomkesh later joins the quest.
Then begins a journey where there is a missing chemistry professor, opium/heroine formulae, a lodge with its interesting residents, a femme fatale from Rangoon, a political leader with illicit affairs and his revolting nephew, series of murders, Chinese mafia, Japanese army and in all this mash up an unknown adversary Yuan Guang.
How the story unfolds layer by layer and how Byomkesh misses the clues and learns on his first assignment if he ultimately solves the mystery is the movie all about.
The movie is slow burn and everything takes its time to actually make sense but not a single dialogue or scene can be ignored. Dibakar’s Byomkesh is harshly honest and naïve at the same time.
The performances are mostly good. Sushant and Anand Tewari shine in their respective characters. There is also the glimpse of bromance as we know that this partnership is going to grow if sequels are considered.
The setup of the old Calcutta with trams running on the street is intricately created and shot, whereas the language is primarily Hindi and no unnecessary push of the Bangla accent.
At times the movie seems like a serial as there is no background score and then suddenly there is a blast as Byomkesh finds a clue and the music comes roaring. It’s a nice touch.
The movie may or may not find its audience among the purists and even the title might offend some. As himself Byomkesh never proclaimed himself as a detective but a Satanveshi(Truth seeker), and the character does reflect the same.
Overall you won’t be disappointed much but I felt that the secret could have been kept better. Nevertheless this was the first outing for our very own Sherlock, as I believe and as rumor has it that Yash Raj has bought rights for all the 30 stories of the writer, so the character is established well. Fingers crossed for the next comings.