Mysteries been seen many a time in Indian cinema. So when Dibakar Banerjee embarked upon putting a fictional character on the screen, he would also have had in mind how he would make him appealing to the audiences. ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ sees Sushant Singh Rajput play protagonist and, as necessary in a crime thriller, predictability would be a huge downfall. Banerjee’s style is National Award winning and this should mean that he would be bringing this story to the screen with much promise. With what appears to be an interesting ensemble cast including Swastika Mukherjee who was a part of the Bengali ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ (2010), the film definitely had the feel of a masterpiece. However, does it deliver quite in that perfect way?
Ajit Bandyopadhyay (Anand Tiwari) visits Byomkesh Bakshy (Singh Rajput) when he is looking for his father who has been missing for some time. Bakshy embarks on a journey to find Ajit’s father, starting with a search for his paan box. His search takes him to a hostel with an open vacancy where he meets various characters.
It has to be said that as co-producer, co-writer and director, Banerjee seems to be fully in charge of the movie from head to toe, so to speak. With Kolkata as the main backdrop, Banerjee’s vision becomes a huge visual aid, even just through a tram ride at the start. Banerjee’s strong point throughout the film is the way his characters and moving scenes are non-conforming. Here is a jasoos who has feelings – he flints at the sight of a dead body, he is nervous when a female makes unexpected advances and not once does he make out he has all the answers, much like many of the similar characters in films from all around the world might have done previously. In the scenes where the Singh Rajput or any of the other actors are seen walking through streets or travelling in some way, they could easily be hidden in the background if the story wasn’t so focused on them. This is a huge difference in this film as their blending-in-the-background ability makes the viewers feel as if this is an everyday story somewhat. Cinematographer��Nikos Andritsakis also deserves a mention for the scenes where the capital of West Bengal could almost be counted as an additional character in the film.
As far as performances go, Singh Rajput very much owns the character of Byomkesh Bakshy. His image change is definitely a plus point because it keeps the audiences away from his popular chocolate-boy avatar which they love him for. There is a further realism that Singh Rajput brings to Bakshy and the audience is forced to yearn for what he will do next. Neeraj Kabi’s shaded performance as Dr Guha is particularly chilling as his character goes through an ongoing transitional phase – with audiences not knowing whether he is trustworthy or not. Swastika Mukherjee plays an actress who is central to the mystery and although she absolutely adds the glamour quotient to the film, it’s difficult to see how her overall performance could be unique to her. Anand Tiwari is great at Bakshy’s sidekick and his versatility is there for all to see. Meiyang Chang is also great to see on screen again and fits the narrative splendidly. Overall, this ensemble cast is a perfect mix for the film with interweaving relations and conversations which forever keep the audiences guessing.
A special mention should be given to the climax scene which is shot in a hugely unconventional way. When the story finally comes together, the most important scenes are heavily reliant on facial expressions and… the unexpected. True colours are revealed slowly but the slow motion action scenes are effective to highlight how a film’s story can literally change direction so fast. This contrast is very fresh to see on the screen – especially for a mystery. However, it has to be mentioned that the action scenes are a little too gory for a film that perhaps didn’t need them to be. One is left to wonder how a film that sets the audiences with such a perfectly engaging story can end with so much bloodshed that it’s done without throughout.
Everyone would have been aware of Singh Rajput’s exceptional talent to make each character appealing as well as producer-director Banerjee’s ability to captivate the audiences with the details that make a scene so believable that audiences get engrossed. Put together, these two are the best aspects of ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ In addition, the film lets the audience make up its mind at various points but still manages to deliver the unexpected a few times throughout. This is evidence that the makers are relying on the intelligence of the audiences and this indeed is a strength in what could’ve been an otherwise predictable genre. Minus the goriness, ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ is an effective mix of the essentials that each cinema-goer would want from a crime thriller and it’s worth a watch.
BizAsia Showbiz Rating: 3.5/5