An Enigmatic Movie Sans The Enigma: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!

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A man, who likes to investigate, wants to get to the crux of the matter, is always looking for the gray while looking at the blacks and the whites, and yet, abhors the label of a detective, is none other than Byomkesh Bakshi. However, Dibakar Banerjee’s Byomkesh comes with a “Y” and an exclamation mark. Also, he comes with the much abhorred label of a detective. This should give you enough cues that drawing comparisons with other renditions of this popular fictional sleuth can be a wild goose chase.

Here’s the deal: a detective story ought to deliver on its promise to intrigue, entice and seduce. Shroud the viewers’ vision with obscurities and make them hold their breath as they wait for the next scene to roll out. Well, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! yearns to do all that but fails to suck the viewers in. While Dibakar Banerjee has an amazing flair of telling uncanny stories of lovable thieves, corrupt bureaucrats and builder mafias, he also has this profound propensity to bring into a life a Calcutta from the 1940s. Right from the Jane Russell movie posters, ramshackle buildings, “the fuchka-walas” to tram signs, Dibakar recreates the charisma of Calcutta with defined ace, but I wish I could say the same for Byomkesh!

Sushant Singh Rajput, our protagonist, is a surprise with his much nuanced performance. As always, Dibakar has chosen his cast and crew just perfect. The problem, however, lies with the rather simplistic plot that drags the movie forward. There is a brilliant façade of intelligence that surrounds the movie, but it’s just that, a façade. An enigmatic movie that doesn’t really bear much enigma as you sit through the flick, shifting on your seat as the movie stumbles its way towards the climax.

Having said that, I would still say that Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is definitely worth more than a glance. The movie takes you to the era of the Second World War, where the city is at the brink of faceing a Japanese attack. A time when the opium dens are flourishing, refugees flowing in from the Burma route and the drug lords are affluent, Banerjee’s lush camera-work takes you to another period, making you feel as if you were a time-traveler. And, who doesn’t like that?

With the World War 2 and its repercussions in Calcutta being the backdrop, Byomkesh’s wanderings are all captured in Banerjee’s noir-ish technique of filming. As the corpses pile up, the plot of the movie begins to flatten out, leaving you disappointed and wanting for more intricacies, maybe?

Sangeeta Purkayastha

Image Source: The Viewspaper