Sunday, April 26, 2015

Movie Review: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!

DBB! (with the y and the !) is not a film adaptation of the original writings of Byomkesh's creator, Saradindu Bandopadhyay. Neither does it have anything much to do with the TV series on DD that made Byomkesh a household name and launched Rajit Kapur.

Our Byomkesh is fresh out of college. He is socially challenged, clumsy, uncomfortable with the ways of the world. He reminds you a lot of Inspector Clouseau. He misses details, takes time to make conclusions, but he loves solving problems, and he is persistent.

The real hero of the movie is Calcutta of the 40s. The movie opens with a simple tram ride through the narrow, smoky streets with an out-of-focus Byomkesh in the foreground. Banerjee's Calcutta is like a living painting. Shadows lurk at every corner and smoky opium dens choke your breath. The threat of bombs is always in the air - it's the second world war, and Japan is threatening to over run the city at any time. This is the setting in which the young Byomkesh gets cracking at his first assignment.

The investigation into the disappearance of his client's father quickly envelops him in danger - everyone from a local politician, his pretty mistress, and deadly drug dealers are involved. Throats are slashed, a lot of blood is spilled.

The movie is very slow, and the darkness gets overwhelming at times. The plot is complicated, but pretty predictable, and doesn't really hold you for long. 

The cast has an interesting mix of characters - and while there are shades of good performances, Sushant Singh Rajput is not flattering as Byomkesh. The female leads, Divya Menon and Swastika Mukherjee, barely have a role to play and fail to impress. Anand Tiwari shares a good chemistry and sense of humor with Sushant and is my pick for the best of the cast.

Not bad, but definitely not Dibakar Banerjee's best!

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