Metroplus

Seeking a true version

Chennai: 01/11/2012: The Hindu: Young World: Book Review Column:
Title: The Rhythm of Riddles.Three Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries.
Author: Saradindu Bandyopadhyay, introduction by Dibakar Banerjee.

Chennai: 01/11/2012: The Hindu: Young World: Book Review Column:
Title: The Rhythm of Riddles.Three Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries.
Author: Saradindu Bandyopadhyay, introduction by Dibakar Banerjee.

Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! continues its run at multiplexes in the city and provokes extreme reactions with people either loving or hating it. Based on Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s tales of the dhoti-clad detective, Banerjee’s take has been appreciated for the period detailing, the extraordinary soundtrack, Neeraj Kabi’s performance as Dr. Anukul Guha, and for Sushant Singh Rajput's portrayal of Byomkesh.

On the minus side, people have disliked the film for being over stylised, complicated and for the bloodbath in the climax.

There are as many opinions as there are Byomkesh’s screen avatars from Satyajit Ray's Chiriyakhana (The Zoo) to Rituparno Ghosh's Satyanweshi (The seeker of truth) and Basu Chatterjee’s TV serial. Jash Sen, author of the adventure fantasy novels, The Wordkeepers and Skyserpents , is a die-hard Byomkesh fan. In an email interview, she writes: “I got hooked to Byomkesh when I was 11. It was a summer vacation in Calcutta and I devoured the first volume in the days that followed. I remember looking outwardly normal, but I was really in a different Calcutta the entire time — Byomkesh’s Calcutta.”

On whether the film did justice to the source stories, Jash says: “That is probably not the question to ask of an adaptation that always set out to reinvent. This was always meant to be Byomkesh on acid. What I was looking for was justice to Byomkesh the character, justice to the period and whether the story stood on its own legs. First, here is what I loved — it was a story made out of negative spaces. We knew Ajit’s father had died, he introduced that as an element. We knew cocaine-formed the backbone of the first Byomkesh story, here it was a substantial element of the plot. I enjoyed the fact that he introduced characters familiar to me in an unfamiliar setting. These are the nods to the readers. I enjoyed the period, Paris of the East noir feel; I was not expecting realism, I was expecting Calcutta psychedelia and I got my fix from the film. Sushant wore his dhoti well. But the decrepit parts of Calcutta were not that decrepit at the time.”

Madhuparna Dutta, assistant project manager, says the film was a good attempt, but adds, “A background to the story should have been given at the beginning, especially for first-time viewers. There wasn’t much clarity and some of the scenes were disconnected.”

Jash contends, “I have quibbles with the plot. It could have been tighter, neater. As a detective story, it could have been better, but it is still miles ahead of the detective films I have seen in Hindi. The thing is, you are adapting the work of a past master of plots and an accomplished screen writer (Saradindu wrote for many early Hindi films). Your adaptation needs to have at least as tight a plot, if not a better one. Otherwise, why change what works?”

Karuna Dutta, Madhuparna’s mother, however, didn't consider Dibakar’s version of Byomkesh authentic. “I found no similarity between the films and serials I have seen of Byomkesh to this film".

A discussion on Feluda is important when we talk about Byomkesh and Bengali detective fiction. For Jash, both are unique and have a charm: “If Feluda is Tintin, Byomkesh is a graphic novel. Both are beautiful in their own right. I read Feluda for the illustrations, the local detail, the trivia, dry humour. I read Byomkesh for the slow burn of hidden passion, for the rich feel of his classical Bengali. I could eat Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s language.”


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 7:15:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/seeking-a-true-version/article7130484.ece