Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! Its Dibakar Banerjee’s love affair with ‘Calcutta’



By Ishan Kukreti

When Dibakar Banrejee decided to turn Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s Byomkesh Bakshi into a feature, it was a courageous call. Masters of Indian cinema like Satyajit Ray(Chiriyakhana,1967) and Rituperno Ghosh (Satyanweshi, 2013) had tried to do the same, but with little success.

Although the film is being severely drubbed by a section of filmgoers who claim to know the nuisances of Bakshi in some way that Dibakar could not capture, for those blissfully ignorant of such intricacies, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is a treat that brings something nail-biting to the screen with every shot.

Dibakar is known for his realism in cinema. People remember Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (2008) for the innocuously disastrous Lucky and Khosala ka Ghosala (2006) for a cranky and hapless Mr. Khosala. With Byomkesh, he has extended that knack for realism from characters to settings. The most breath-taking character of the film is the city, Calcutta of 1943. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy will go down in history as Dibakar’s love affair with Calcutta.

The film is shot beautifully. The subtle shift of noir tones from realistic to fantastic and the intricate camera work of Nikos Andritsakis (LSD, Ugly, Shanghai) sets the mood just right to enjoy the slowly unraveling mystery of converging revolution, drug smuggling, lustful liaisons and a quest for truth.

Although the film was publicized majorly as Sushant Singh Rajput’s big screen debut, people will remember the film for the madness which Neeraj unleashed on them.

The film is under fire for Sushant being a little too un-Bengali for a Bengali character but Dibakar is completely justified in bringing a sort of pan national look to the story. No better example of Dibakar’s success in doing that can be given than those two guys who were talking of leaving by interval but were the ones clapping the hardest when the film faded out.

  • Interesting and crisp. I would have loved to read more.