The Name’s Bakshy, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy review: Is the big screen adaptation of this iconic super sleuth worth your time and money? Here’s five factors which help decide.

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anand Tiwari, Neeraj Kabi, Swastika Mukherjee, Divya Menon, Meiyang Chang
Director: Dibakar Banerjee


Rating: 3.5/5 (Averaged with friends), Great watch.

After a wonderful Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Yash Raj Films have hit screens with a whodunnit led by an Indian super sleuth character, who has been popular with Doordarshan audiences over the decades. To the uninitiated, Byomkesh Bakshi has been an iconic fictional character among Bengali literary enthusiasts, synonymous with the rich legacy of detective stories in Bengali literature, ever since writer Saradindu Bandyopadhyay wrote the first Byomkesh adventure in 1932.  But is the big screen adaptation worth your time and money? Here’s five factors which help decide.

Sushant Singh Rajput: Unlike his global counterparts (Holmes, Bond), Byomkesh who likes being called a Satya-nweshi (truth-seeker), comes across as the guy next door sleuth. He is one amongst us – throws up at sight of dead bodies, gets nervous at situations. His lies get caught and at times he even misses the obvious clue staring at him. Sushant was probably the best fit to play this role. His on screen charm and presence carries the movie and is a treat to watch. When the mistress of a politician seduces him, you know, despite the ‘bhadralok’ looks he deserves that Bond like magnetic draw.

Support Cast: DBB has a solid support cast which holds the crime thriller strong. Anand Tiwari as the flustered son worried about his father’s whereabouts and Néeraj Kabi as the chameleon stand out. Kabi was fabulous in his role of a rigid monk in Ship of Theseus, and his portrayal in the climax of DBB makes us believe a sequel is on its way, featuring him. Performances have always been the strong point of each of Dibakar’s movies, this one is no different. Watch out for the lodge servant whose hand trembles even carrying smallest of vessels or the inmate who always looks for a ‘special paan’.

Byomkesh Bakshy on a slow moving electric tram

Byomkesh Bakshy on a slow moving electric tram, a Calcutta landmark (Movie still courtesy Internet)

Storyline: Dibakar’s movies also search for a niche audience. Two of his previous ventures, LSD and Shanghai, needed total attention from the viewer – sight and mind. The settings are dark, gloomy and his stories unfold lazily, keeping one guessing till the end. DBB has a brilliant first half but a shade complicated and long second half. Multiple murder cases are linked to drug cartels and Japanese invasion attempts.

If the film had a 20 mins shorter running time (148mins as of now) it may have made the product better, viewer less restless and story simpler. If Dibakar has sequel in mind (which seems obvious), he needs to make his series appeal to a larger audience, else making the proposition viable from its current budget, could be tough.

1942, a Calcutta story: With backdrop of World War II and frequent bombings by the Japanese, Calcutta of 1942 is shown brilliantly under British influence. Slow moving trams, potato wedges served, The Statesman newspaper, early version of Mickey Mouse, lanterns covered with paper, musty walls and lot more. There is brilliant attention to detail.

Treatment: Despite the ingredients of a thriller, DBB laces itself with adequate humour. Watch out for the conversation with two factory guards from Munger (Bihar) or the visit to the dentist. Special mention of Anand Tiwari’s comic timing – he never contributes to the investigation but you want him to stay on screen, assured that his dialogues would give a smile. DBB does lack any pulse racing moment, wild chase or extravagant action. However several things stay with the viewer after the movie – Sushant Singh Rajput’s look, the heavy metal soundtrack and quirky dialogues.

Best dialogue: ‘Sach ke aas pass waala jhoot pakadna mushkil hota hai’ (Translation : Its always tough to catch a lie which stays closest to the truth).

Box Office Prediction: Friday 9pm show at Singapore had 90% hall full and while the storyline and settings may not appeal to all, good word of mouth with keep the cash register afloat. A relatively low budget (22 crores), no blockbusters coming in April but IPL to rival would be the decisive factors. DBB will likely have an average run and just about manage to break even.