Review: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (Dir.: Dibakar Banerjee; Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anand Tiwari, Divya Menon et al.)

Dibakar Banerjee has begun his Byomkesh Bakshy series in a flash of blood and rock. I say “begun” and “series” because this is clearly the first of multiple servings he has in mind. In that context, “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy” is comparable to Nolan’s “Batman Begins”. We are introduced to the main players and they have their first bout. Something tells me that some of the scenes in DBB will grow fonder once we see the characters evolve in subsequent films.

Meticulously created, lovingly flaunted, this Calcutta is a city in its prime, even if it’s under siege and serving as the battlefield of multiple villains. As the template for the thriller, this is a Calcutta almost distractingly beautiful..

Coming to the film itself, Sushant Singh Rajput’s earnest efforts bubble forth making his Byomkesh likable if not charming, effective if not suave. The trailer indicated that this version of Byomkesh could be like Guy Ritchie’s Holmes. But somehow Rajput looks even better on screen than in the trailers and the “bangaliana” (Bengali-ness) of Byomkesh stands him out in a space of his own rather than being anyone’s imitation. Anand Tiwari is a snug fit in his character appearance. But the surprise aces in the pack are Swastika Mukherjee and Neeraj Kabi. However, my favourite aspect of DBB is its ’40s Calcutta. Meticulously created, lovingly flaunted, this Calcutta is a city in its prime, even if it’s under siege and serving as the battlefield of multiple villains. As the template for the thriller, this is a Calcutta almost distractingly beautiful with its trams and “ghingy” roads, its Chinatown and evening parties, its sirens and sirens (yes!). And the soft, dim – even dark – shots throughout only add to the enigma.

The plot could have been tighter, the villain better (the likes of Joker and Silva have made our appetite for villains so large that they have a tougher time making their mark than heroes nowadays) but the music, the mood, the setting and the uncertainty make it a thriller worth the money. And special kudos to Dibakar Banerjee for daring such a bold interpretation. Because, as his version of the “satyanweshi” (truth-seeking) protagonist would agree, it’s the daring that counts at the end!

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy on IMDb

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