Movie Review: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!

Movie: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anand Tiwari, Swastika Mukherjee, Divya Menon, Neeraj Kabi

Director: Dibakar Banerjee

Rating - ***1/2

What the movie is about:

The movie is set in 1940s Calcutta and tells the tale of the famous Bengali literary character, detective Byomkesh Bakshy and his very first case. The film starts with a few Chinese smugglers being brutally murdered by a shadowed man who sends the message to a boss in Shanghai about his return. The Chinese suspected that this person was a former associate who they thought was dead. The movie jumps to a young man whose father had disappeared two months back. This man named, Ajit Bandyopadhyay (Anand Tiwari) is looking for Byomkesh Bakshy (Sushant Singh Rajput) to help him find out about his father. After some altercations, Byomkesh decides to help Ajit and sets out to uncover the truth. The young detective then encounters meetings on this journey with other key characters ranging from a politician, an actress, a freedom fighter, a dentist, a social activist to the dangerous shadowed man. In this process, several other secrets are revealed and the story leads you to a climax which keeps you guessing right till the end.

What we think:

Set in the beginning of World War II, director Dibakar Banerjee shows Calcutta as a colonial drug hub with lots of colour and history. The character of Byomkesh Bakshy was originally written by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay in the 1930s but is quite different from its adaptation in the movie. The character in this 2015 movie has been recreated to be reachable by the audience today. Dibakar showed us the wonders of his fabulous imagination when he made that era of Calcutta and those characters retain the appropriate fantasy with being tangible. The set is exactly what we would imagine Calcutta being like in that time, the tram, the people, the despair of victims during the bomb siren wail, all have been captured with utmost subtlety. And that is exactly what Dibakar Banerjee is famous for. The story being a suspense thriller, has lots of twists and turns that have your attention glued to the screen for every small detail. Giving in to our human nature, we keep guessing based on what we see but the canny director has all of us in a constant state of doubt until the ending. The beauty with which the noir secrets have been captured is the reason why Dibakar is considered one the greatest film-makers today.

Sushant Singh Rajput, take a bow! The actor just has two films in his kitty along with a special appearance in one, but he has now proved his absolute potential with this character. Sushant very aptly plays the titular role and becomes a Byomkesh that is a mixture of the original character and himself. His acting skills, along with his expressions are not over the top, not underwhelming but just right. The star developed the accent fitting enough to make us know that he is a Bengali but not so much that the lingo becomes difficult to understand. Sushant very easily slides into the role of a character who is not a truth seeker like the original Byomkesh but a blunt, egotistical detective showing the signs of Sherlock and Poirot. The scenes with Byomkesh and Ajit trying to piece out this puzzle and having a conversation in their room is a perfect example of the control Sushant has on his act. When the shot is followed by the one where, in the middle of the night Byomkesh shows Ajit the art he made on the wall in a drug haze, gives the audience goosebumps and confuses them even more. The story of the movie unfolds with Byomkesh struggling on this quest not because he wants to do a good deed but to find the truth to settle his own curiosity. Sushant's fearless acting, cocky stances and unflinching expressions all completely cater to this interesting character sketch.

The two ladies in the movie, Swastika Mukherjee and Divya Menon, both make their Bollywood debut with this film. The actresses do not have more than supporting roles, but the importance of their characters in the movie makes their limited screen time quite significant. Swastika Mukherjee is a reknowned Bengali star, but fails to wow us in the role of a famous heroine and a mistress. Even though her character of Angoori Devi has many shades, she doesn't use that potential to prove herself. The role of Ajit is successfully essayed by Anand Tiwari. The actor has been seen in many movies playing the second fiddle but his work in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is outstanding. His scenes with Sushant Singh Rajput are perfectly timed comical reliefs that were needed in between the engrossingly serious movie. Be it him hitting Sushant or fighting with thugs or the last shot with his matter-of-fact attitude after a gruesome scene, Anand rightly plays all the parts. Neeraj Kabi may not be a known name but he too has been a boon for the movie and made us fearfully believe in the essence of his character.

There are no typical songs in the movie except in the background. Music director Sneha Khanwalkar has done a fabulous job with the opening song, with it catching the flavour of Bengal. The background score of the movie was just as chilling as it should be in a thriller, where the titillating music leads upto the suspense scenes.

Dibakar Banerjee did impress us with his direction, but the climax, though interesting, was a little underwhelming for the build up that had notched up higher and higher throughout the film. But we have to applaud his thinking in leaving the ending open for a chance of a sequel and we sure hope that he makes it.

Our Verdict:

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is a one of kind thriller movie which is rare in Bollywood. If you want to give your mind a little thinking exercise and don't mind a couple of gruesome scenes, then you should go watch this movie, if not for anything then atleast to appreciate Sushant Singh Rajput's talented acting and Dibakar's spectacular vision.

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