No film from the Yash Raj Films stable has ever looked and sounded like Dibakar Banerjee's Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!
Movie review: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!; Director: Dibakar Banerjee; Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anand Tiwari, Neeraj Kabi, Swastika Mukherjee, Divya Menon
No movie from the Yash Raj Films stable has ever looked and sounded like Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy starring Sushant Singh Rajput!
It is a stylized, unconventional and wonderfully well crafted adaptation of a mystery tale that stays true to the spirit and the period of its literary source while sticking steadfastly to its own unique contemporary cinematic idiom.
Sushant Singh Rajput, in the role of the fictional detective conceived well over 80 years ago by Bengali litterateur Saradindu Bandyopadhyay, makes a marvellously understated and hugely effective hero.
The film presents private detective Byomkesh Bakshy at a point in his life when he is fresh from college and only just beginning to learn the ropes.
A college mate (Anand Tiwari) seeks his help to investigate the baffling disappearance of his father, a paan-addicted but brilliant chemist.
As he pursues the case, Byomkesh lands in the middle of a conspiracy hatched by an evil but unknown and unseen villain who is on the run from his former accomplices in Shanghai and is determined to keep his drug empire running in 1940s Kolkata.
The action unfolds in the midst of World War II, and Byomkesh encounters an array of shadowy characters that only make things difficult for him.
Among them are a boarding house owner and part-time medicine man (Neeraj Kabi), a seductive singer-danseuse (Swastika Mukherjee) and a freedom fighter’s sister (debutante Divya Menon) for whom Byomkesh develops a soft spot.
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! isn’t what one could describe as a thrill-a-minute action film, but it is engaging fare nonetheless if one stays clued into its subtleties.
The pace is deliberate, the soundtrack is laden with contemporary indie music sounds, and the acting is subdued all the way through.
The film has been shot beautifully by Nikos Andritsakis, who delivers smoky, dimly-lit interiors with the same flair with which he composes the authentic street scenes.
The production design is absolutely top notch. It captures the period ambience with an unfailing eye for detail, lending the film its distinctive texture.
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is primarily a genre film, but it does not resort to the conventional narrative methods of the form.
It is bound to repay the patience of intelligent and demanding moviegoers who seek more than just song-and-dance and blustery heroics from their cinema.