The television series directed by Basu Chatterjee starring Rajit Kapur and KK Raina has made it impossible to picture the Bengali sleuth Byomkesh Bakshi being played by any other actor on screen. But Dibakar Banerjee took on the challenge and cast a young Sushant Singh Rajput to play the role.
Byomkesh is India's answer to Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. Dibakar raised the expectations with his chic trailers, and smart marketing not revealing his plan with the detective's character.
The film is 'Bakshy's' beginnings, the storyline of the movie is inspired by two of author Sharadindu Bandopadhyay's stories but with the director's own twist. The character grows throughout the film and Sushant has done justice to the responsibility placed upon him.
The movie will keep you on the edge of your seats. The plot has twists and turns and doesn't slack off. The treatment is very Tarantinoesque with rococo style art direction, sharp dialogues, and heavy background music. It would have been unbelievable that heavy metal plays in the background of a movie set in India, in the early 1940s. But it has to be watched to be bound by the spell that all these musician's (the music has been given by various artists including Madboy Mink, Sneha Khanwalkar, Joint Family etc,) cast and the tracks hit the mark without overpowering the film. The soundtrack done by a ensemble of lesser known artists is a masterstroke played by Banerjee.
Neeraj Kabi as Dr Guha is fantastic. He underplays his role throughout to emerge as one of the strongest characters of the movie. Sushant has played with a composure few actors can boast of.
Bengali actress Swastika Mukherjee,(as Anguri Devi) whose character was based on the notorious spy cum exotic dancer Mata Hari, is seductive at times, and at times she fails to make the impact which a layered character like her could have. Anand Tiwari plays the soft spoken Ajeet babu with panache.
Dibakar has attempted to include deaths and murders in the movie without going 'Dabbang' on his audience. The gore exists but (partly due to censorship) it does not overwhelm the main theme of the movie. The 'whodunit' format of the first half is quickly twisted into looking at the larger picture. The one villain of the movie will be revealed pretty quickly, but for a reason. The people who have read the original books would probably predict the first half, but the second half is meshed in the first story with subtlety.
The details of the movie are worth a mention. The costumes by Manish Malhotra prove that the go-to-glamour guy of Bollywood is more than just dressing up divas in fashionable clothes.
Although not perfected, the research and the hardwork shows in the movie. The sets by Vandana Kataria is an ode to pop culture and fits the feel of the movie.
The only qualm with the entire movie would possibly be the slightly long winded revelation in the climax. The explanation of the motive, as all detective stories must do could have been shorter and the mad man act by the villain was totally avoidable. The action sequence that follows is a fantastic tribute to the neo-noir cinema of the 40s and the 50s.
That aside, the gripping story, and crisp editing makes it a nail-biting watch. The end points towards a sequel and one eagerly awaits it. The genre of crime thrillers has been oft attempted but only a few have managed to impress as much as Dibakar's 'Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!' does.
The film has managed to bring back a popular Indian character to the limelight, and the movie does justice to the genre. Watch it for the packaging of the movie, music, lights, art direction and the story – they all fit together for an experience to remember.