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DETECTIVE BYOMKESH BAKSHY - Dibakar delivers a SHANGHAI again and the charisma of Saradindu, Basu and Rajit's lovable 'Bakshi' remains untouched. (Review By Bobby Sing)
03 Apr, 2015 | Movie Reviews / 2015 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / D

Murder mysteries or ‘Whodunit’ detective movies have never been ‘The Box-office favourite’ in the history of Hindi Cinema (particularly post the 70s). But being the first Hindi film made on the immensely popular Bengali sleuth Byomkesh Bakshi, created by the renowned writer Saradindu Bandopadhyay, the project did have the excitement factor going in its favour despite the extremely mixed responses to its trailer. Yet, matching the amazing, long lasting impact of the simplistic entertainment provided by Basu Chatterjee/Rajit Kapur’s Doordarshan (Hindi) serial on the Detective (aired in the early 90s) was not an easy task at all. And thats exactly where DETECTIVE BYOMKESH BAKSHY is sure going to disappoint many dedicates fans of the brilliant TV series in all honesty.
However beginning with an explanation for the tag line stated above, firstly this is another SHANGHAI kind of product delivered by one of my favourite new-age directors Dibakar Banerjee. And by the statement I mean, a film that certainly would get much appreciation from a certain section of viewers looking into the technical and other finer aspects of film-making, but not from the masses who actually turn a project into a big box office success in real terms.
Secondly, here you cannot draw any comparison between the Byomkesh we know from the original books /Bengali films (serials) or the famous Hindi TV series and the one depicted by Dibakar in his film, since they both surprisingly turn out to be completely contrasting personalities to say the least. For instance Dibakar’s Byomkesh is not a brave person at all, who easily throws up seeing blood, open wounds and rotten dead bodies. He gets slapped by a unknown possible client in their first meeting itself, is not able to save himself from the attacking goons with his sharp presence of mind or reflexes, can easily get seduced and also gets caught by an old man within seconds for the few lies spoken about his false identity. So if the original Byomkesh simply won your heart and respect both due to many of his visible qualities, Dibakar’s Bakshi fails to do the same right from his first scene itself getting slapped quite weirdly.
Talking about the experience of watching DETECTIVE BYOMKESH BASKHY with a ‘Y’, the film begins impressively showing the Calcutta of 1942 and the very first thing that makes an instant impact is the splendid recreation of the era having a very fine detailing in the backdrop with people, clothes, trams, shops, boards, posters and streets presented beautifully with the collective effort of its art director and the cinematographer. The reference of World War 2 and Shanghai-Burma-Japan in the build-up sets a fine premise of an exciting journey. And then the mystery of a missing father begins with a sex and political angle thrown in to add some extra spice to the big case taken up by the known Detective.
Having said that, the overall pace and excitement level in the narration remains extremely low and it goes into an even more dull phase post intermission when many dark secrets get slowly revealed heading towards a quite over the top and hamming climax (clearly inspired from the west), not expected from the director like Dibakar Bannerjee. Putting it straight, in the final hour, he takes the movie into a completely different phase with few boringly long sequences, un-required action, exaggerated expressions and an open climax minus any thrilling moments making no impact whatsoever on the common man sitting in the theater willing to see an exciting ending as always expected from a murder mystery.
In fact it’s quite shocking to see such a slow paced, uninspiring detective movie without any enjoyable high points from the director of entertaining films such as LSD, OYE LUCKY! LUCKY OYE and KHOSLA KA GHOSLA. Probably the SHANGHAI hangover of making classics for only a certain section of viewers is still there with the director moving far away from the masses. And I frankly missed the typical ‘Dibakar' touch in the film once again quite sadly.
In the writing department, the sequences begin to drag pretty badly in its second half and the dialogues or language also remains inconsistent as I strongly felt at several instances. For example, at one end you have a fabulous line ‘Sach Ke Aaspaas Wala Jhooth Pakadna Mushkil Hota Hai’ and on the other the sacred river Ganga is strangely referred to as ‘Ganga Maiya’  by a Japanese drug dealer too (or did I hear it wrongly!). Also in the background score, where the naturally added sounds excel, the westerns arrangements and rock tracks keep disturbing a lot. Moreover its always confusing to see the creative team working too hard on recreating the gone era in a period film with all those fabulous sets, costumes, special effects and spoken language. But they repeatedly forget or deliberately ignore to recreate the music of those times too coming up with a similar sound and arrangements using the relevant musical instruments. Incidentally that reminds me the last time, music actually took me back in the late 40s was in HEY RAM composed by the maestro Illaiyaraja or in the latest YRF’s DUM LAGA JE HAISHA too reminding us of the musical 80s and 90s.
No doubt here we have a worth praising production value adding a lot to the film’s overall look and feel, a splendid cinematography (though many might find it too dark) and ‘an appreciable risk’ taken by the courageous director, post his unsuccessful venture SHANGHAI. But if only Dibakar had made it entertaining enough for the end user instead of getting lost in his own creation, the film would have provided a great viewing experience to all Byomkesh Bakshi die-hard fans for sure.
Coming to its weakest point dealing with performances, though Sushant Singh Rajput tries hard and his level best to portray the iconic role, he simply couldn’t deliver due to the badly written character largely deviating from the original persona of the detective as known to the (Hindi) viewers who still remember Byomkesh as Rajit Kapoor with his innocent sweet smile dressed in a simple white attire. On the other hand, Anand Tiwari plays his role with a comfortable ease along with Meiyang Chang and more posing as the co-residents of the lodge. In the female lead both Swastika Mukherjee and Divya Menon get nothing much to do, whereas Neeraj Kabi impresses a lot if only you can ignore his loud acting towards the end.
In all, as was the case in director’s last venture SHANGHAI, this too has its technical excellence right there as an impressive merit. But the film stumbles a lot in its overall execution, a feature we do not usually associate with the name of Dibakar Banerjee. So you can opt for it if really interested in watching the artistic depiction of the 40s more than anything else. And in case that doesn’t excite you at all then watch a few episodes of Basu Chatterjee-Rajit Kapoor TV series on Youtube this weekend or can even try Satyajit Ray’s CHIRIYAKHANA (with Uttam Kumar playing the lead) made on a strange case handled well by our beloved, smart detective created by Saradindu Bandopadhyay.
Rating : 2.5 / 5
(As an important note, I would like to mention that despite having a huge fan following for the Hindi TV series directed by Basu Chatterjee, its really an irony that the serial was never made available in the home video market as a DVD set with a fine HD print (till date). May be any concerned person reading this can do something about it for we all true fans of the detective since the 90s.)
Cheers!

Tags : Detective Byomkesh Bakshy Review by Bobby Sing, Byomkesh Bakshi Review by Bobby Sing, Dibakar's Byomkesh Bakshy, Basu Chatterjee's Byomkesh, Saradindu's Byomkesh, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com
03 Apr 2015 / Comments ( 8 )
Prakash Bhatia

Hi Bobbyji,
You have rightly heard 'ganga maiya' from that Chinese or Japanese God knows. A very interestingly designed and modernising the nostalgia.
I have spent my childhood in 'Calcutta'of mid fifties and I would congratulate Dibakar for this master creation of that era.

I completely agree with you that it is noway near that great DD serial by Basuda. A most confusing film which never reaches the audience.Whodunit films require highly communicative approach which this film lacks.It is, I think Dibakar's obsession with the subject failed him and creating one story out of many is an art which only class writer can produce.

I do not know the name of that actor who played Dr Guha in spite of his best efforts his performance was of theatre not film. His body language and gestures in the scene before he kills that lady reminded me of some great Shakespeare an actor and Sushant did his best to justify the character as per film's script but unfortunately this script betrayed him. Cheers

Bobby Sing

Hi Prakash Ji,
No doubt Dibakar needs to be congratulated for the recreation of that era successfully but it was really unintelligent on his part to play with a deeply established character so badly to have his own stamp on the character.
The silly step backfired badly and the film suffered a lot at the box office mainly due to this big reason alone, otherwise everyone appreciated his courageous attempt to present it as a period film.

And the actor playing Dr. Guha is Neeraj Kabi, the one who played the monk in SHIP OF THESEUS.

Cheers!

Raj

Hi Bobby,

I really want to read your reviews on movie 'Thanks Maa'. I recently watched this movie and really liked it. If you do get a chance please take some time out to watch it, if you haven't done that yet and write a few lines.

I would really appreciate that.

Raj.

 

Bobby Sing

Hi Raj,
I liked 'Thanks Maa' a lot due to its basic shocking theme and treatment. Unfortunately the film couldn't reach the people as it should have since a film led by the kids is largely considered to be a children film only lacking the required excitement level. It happened with 'Chillar Party' too which still had the entertainment factor intact in its social theme and was later watched by many post winning the national award.

Same is the case with THANKS MAA.
However regarding the film's deserving mention, I did that in one of my exclusive articles on 'INCEST in Hindi Films" revealing its basic plot (since had to do it as per the subject). So you can find the same in the Search option given at the right column.

Keep Visiting and Writing in,
Cheers!

Kumar

Hi,
I am also a big fan of the DD serial. The entire series is available on Youtube. You can get a copy of the same on DVD on ebay, etc. The quality is still the downloaded quality.
However, as you mentioned, a dvd in HD would be wonderful.

Bobby Sing

Hi Kumar,
Yes the series is available at Youtube and can be downloaded too. But would really love to have its DVD pack with some added trivia information too in the coming future.

Keep Visiting.
Cheers!

avik

Hey sir..

Gd Mrng.. U know I couldn't make it to the cinema when it got released.. And in this part of the world, bengal, more or less everybody was against this movie.. They either hated it or didn't even bother to watch it.. Even I didn't like the promos but was eager to watch it because of one reason only - Dibakar..

Tonight only I got hold of the dvd and liked it a lot, to be honest.. I have grown up reading Feluda byomkesh n other bengali detectives and this movie has nothing much in common with the byomkesh we all know n love.. Still I liked this movie..

It has several flaws as you rightly said but I would really be waiting for next installment of this series, if at all it happens..

That ganga maiya thing was really worthless.. Another line which I didn't quite like was when byomkesh asked Dr guha if he didn't get his "bengali" words properly..(whereas entire conversation was in hindi and I did like the fact that Dibakar didn't follow the general trend of inserting bengali words here n there ).. The background music worked for me, other the rock insertion.. The climax was really inspired by western flicks, QT type.. In the second half it slows down a bit in the middle and gets a bit confusing too..

But I still liked it ( as you often say opinions differ) :D

The dialogue was well crafted, along with the one you mentioned, two more worth praising lines, as I remember, were - byomkesh saying to the KP officer "aapke pass tarike hote hai"(lol.. This was too gd for a Bollywood masala tribute) .. Another one was when guha says, after killing the girl, "sach ka rang lal hai"; with the Japanese expecting to attack kolkata (sorry, calcutta) next morning I somehow felt llike it hinting the jap red army..

The set was simply superb, as u rightly said.. Recreation of the era, specially using of ads, costume,language everything was well researched and great to say the least.. Kudos to the entire creative team..

The DD serial was a treat to watch and even today when I read the book (n-th number of time) it is Rajat kapur whom I visualise as byomkesh...

But I really want to congratulate Dibakar for his courageous attempt.. And this guy truly is a bigger fan of byomkesh n saradindu than myself for sure.. May be he was trying to make his own byomkesh ( like Nolan's batman or guy Ritchie's Holmes, may be) and we should give him some more time..

It's almost 4:30 in the morning.. so gdnt :D

Bobby Sing

Hi Avik,
Thanks for your detailed comment bro but keep in mind a hidden and lesser talked about fact of cinema that,
"There would always remain a big difference in a person's film viewing expereince and views about any movie if its being watched on the very first day in the first show or being seen days later after having heard a lot about it from various sources. Thats psychology and no one can help it in any way. And that will make a lot of difference if one writes about a movie watching it week's later"

Anyway with this particular movie, the losses were bound to occur and they did too since it was not what was being looked upon......... brutally playing with the icon unnecessarily. And the director had to pay the price for it rightly predicted in the first show itself by many.

Cheers!

 

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