Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! - Review

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

A decent attempt at an authentic setting and intense plot distracts this thriller from thrilling you.

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Wogma Review

You wait for the plot to thicken or a twist that will be different from what you expect. But, it doesn't quite happen. So, you end up admiring the attempt at creating the era of the 40s. I also found myself marveling at the fact that the project didn't get YRiF-ied. But, the thriller by itself is hardly edge-of-seat material.

So, maybe, not all thrillers need to keep you tense through the run-time. But, you need something to look forward to, especially when you have guessed whodunnit in the character's first appearance on screen. I was hoping to clap with glee to find out I was wrong and at the same time could hear myself say, “No chance!” Unfortunately, the latter part of me won.

Fortunately, while I waited then for the inevitable reveal, there was quite a bit I could distract myself with. Maybe it is just our need for something different, but the old-world indeed has its own charm. The rusty, rugged “reality”. Sure, a lot of attention to detail. But every once in a while, you are jolted out of the era, whether it be a bold sexual attempt by a lady or music that is a tad too modern.

The performances though keep you steadfast, willing you to see the film through to the end. Neeraj Kabi holds your interest from the beginning. And so does Swastika Mukherjee, even if it is forceful titillatio, she's there to do a job and she does it well.

Sushant Singh Rajput, of course, fits the bill perfectly. As he gets excited by the mystery, disappointed when he doesn't “get it”, grossed out at different points in the film, you know his character, Byomkesh Bakshy just a bit more.

This is as important as the mystery itself – knowing the investigator, your protagonist. Especially, if the writers are aspiring to turn this into a series, which they clearly are. Byomkesh Bakshy, the character does create enough interest for you to want to watch his next adventure, even if the first one by itself wasn't enticing.

Dibaker Banerjee scored alright then, didn't he? You want to watch the next one, even though the first one leaves you underwhelmed.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads of gore.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A seductress on the prowl. A couple of lip-to-lips.
  • Concept: A murder mystery waiting to be unravelled. Or not.
  • General Look and Feel: Old-world charm.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 2
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 4
  • Dialogues: 2.5
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 3

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! - Movie Details

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! - Trailer

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Comments (23)

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Fan:

Don't get lured by the trailers; especially YRF products. They have a mktg team who is able to go through the mediocre product, ween out the few seconds of good moments, and spin them together to make a trailer sufficiently sexy to draw in the required number of people (read youngsters) to make their product a profitable venture. Cinematic brilliance is far from their top priorities (even if Dibakar Bannerjee may be the director it is the producer who decides how things happen).

Might be more interesting to rewatch the black and white Doordarshan serial on Byomkesh.

meetu:

@Fan Well, home springs eternal... Also a little faith is restored after Dum Laga Ke Haisha.

TimELiebe:

Well, it's a detective movie, so I think we'll really want to see it, Meetu! :)

It looks fun, and just different enough from the usual run of masala that we watch that we might enjoy it....

Anuj:

Eagerly awaited! Although the trailers made it clear that its in no way even remotely related to the TV series and its characters. Hopefully the success story of 2015 that began with Baby, Badlapur, NH10, DLKH continues with DBB

Kapil:

I don't know why I like these Bengali/Malayali (read communist) directors' movies, even though I am completely against the very idea of communism.
These people seem to be really intelligent.
Waiting for this movie also.

meetu:

@TimELiebe @Anuj @Kapil *fingers crossed* it is then! :D

ANuP:

I didnt much liked the characterisation of Byomkesh in this film. As per the bengali literature detective books and bengali movies made on Byomkesh , he is a simple and sober person , a family man with a wife, with just a smoking problem nothing else. He doesnt do action scenes , or doesn't use guns ever , he is totally a non violent person unlike what this trailer has shown. Also the glamour quotient has been added extra . I dont think being a Bengali person Dibakar Banerjee could have taken this decision as he is not a very desperate kind of commercial director. This must have been a forcefull decision by YRF.
I know this doesnt matter to the audience , but surely will make angry to the die hard bengali fans of Byomkesh like me..

Fan:

Thanks Meetu for the review. And for trying hard to find something positive about it. Good that we found the ancient look and charm as being done well. So we could at least compliment something about the film. Otherwise crass YRF commercialisation would have killed off the film.

TimELiebe:

It sounds like you - kind of liked it, Meetu, even though your rating suggests you didn't....

Anup:

Dibakar
Banerjee has done a thing which may or
may not be good for this movie . This is
not a direct adaptation of Byomkesh
Bakshy from Bengali literature .
Characterisation of Byomkesh has been
changed , he is not so sober and mature
here . His intelligence level is not as you
expect , neither he always does right
things , he faulters in his way.
The third act of the movie dragged sometime as the plot becomes so grand in its scale that u havnt expected it. But the good thing is that the first
two act of the movie are totally engaging.
Cant say that the opening knots are great
to crack your mind but are shocking
enough to keep you engaging. And we
got an intelligent villain who looks much
more mature then our hero. An extra
point to add as a complaint is that
although the production design and
cinematography were brilliant to show the
40s era of Calcutta (only few production
house are present in Bollywood who could
have done this except YRF) our main lead
doesn't use Hindi language in an Bengali
accent . Which doesn't give the filling that
we are watching a Bengali character
solving a case in Calcutta('KAHAANI' had
did this thing in a better manner). But
then again its a typical Bengali kind of
complaint which will not hamper other
then Bengalis. In acting department for
me Anand Tiwari as Ajit was the best of
them and Sushant as Byomkesh come
only after him. When the music was out i
haven't liked it much but it fits the movie
in such a good and contrast manner.
Nevertheless , its a good entry for Byomkesh in Bollywood , as the doors for sequal are open , will wait for it

Somak Basu:

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is an edgy thriller which even after revealing its ominous motive towards one half keeps unfolding more and more conundrums just to keep the anxiety holding till it finally sustains, that is something rarely seen in thrillers. In association with Saradindu Bandopadhyay created characters, Dibakar Banerjee manages to weave a breathtaking tale involving mind games between two equal or slightly unequal geniuses which lead to horrifying aftermath. Who is smarter? I bet you can’t evaluate that. Grim, Gory and Shrewd, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy​ is the most enjoyable ride that keeps you glued to your seats until it decides to finish itself. Must Watch for thriller lovers.

meetu:

@Fan :D Well, what works, works.

@TimELiebe To the contrary, my rating reflects my opinion as I try to articulate what I *did* like about the film in the review :D

Murtaza Ali:

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015): Dibankar Banerjee's dark, sprawling period piece oozing with suspense and film noir elements

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! can best be described as a marriage of commercial and experimental filmmaking. It is entertainment galore but not at the expense of creative freedom. In the context of contemporary Hindi cinema, it is nothing short of a monumental achievement. And those who think that Hindi cinema is just not good enough to make great suspense thrillers (Vijay Anand was the pioneer of the genre in Hindi cinema) certainly need to watch this film.

There is a subtle difference between suspense and mystery and “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!” for the most part falls in the former category (yes, there is mystery but the suspense element is stronger). The master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock defines mystery as an intellectual process while suspense as an emotional process. In order to get the suspense element going it is essential to provide information to the audience.

The movie is set in 1942-43 Calcutta (now Kolkata) with the carefully chosen World War II backdrop in an attempt to resonate the ever bustling tempo of the city of joy with the chaos and hysteria of war. Dibakar Banerjee needs to be congratulated for eliciting worthy performances from his entire cast of actors. Sushant Singh Rajput seems to have finally got the role that he was waiting for. Amidst a series of memorable performances, it’s Neeraj Kabi’s portrayal of Dr. Guha that stands first among equals. While the movie is bound to disappoint the hardcore Byomkesh Bakshi enthusiasts, it has all the elements to satisfy the masses and the classes alike. Highly recommended!

The full review can be read at:

http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2015/04/detective-byomkesh-bakshy-2015-dibankar.html

dirtroad:

Very disappointed with the movie and its basic premise. They tried to go global which was not required and completely failed in the process. A period piece cannot only be good sets..it must have some relation with real life that existed in that period. Its unthinkable that an Indian can ever lead a chinenese gang and [comment deleted partially because it gives movie away]....China in 43 was at best a huge huge mess. Secondly are we really serious when we are talking of Japanese [comment deleted partially because it gives movie away]?? My god..[comment deleted partially because it gives movie away]?????? Pls if you put a story in war-time pls do some research about Wars etc etc.....do not just think all are stupid. And [comment deleted partially because it gives movie away]????? in 43 we had spectroscopy and X ray....and even then this??? And a Gajanan Sikdar becoming chief of Bengal in 43..my dear it was united bengal in 43....what about muslim league...can a [comment deleted partially because it gives movie away] do all these stuff??? Pls go global by all means..but pls pls pls do not think all are stupid here. Hawaizada seems a better placed story compared to this. I am so happy there wont be an equally mad sequel after this rebuff at the boxoffice. Its INCREDIBLY lazy writing. Shame.

Swati Bassi:

Watched this movie last sunday
and I really liked it.

Anuj:

A totally boring and snoozeworthy pile of nonsense which deservedly is gonna sink at the box office. Even today i'd rather watch the 1990's TV series than this wannabe global noir thriller which ends up fizzling out in the most laughable ways possible. Rajat Kapoor must be cringing in his living room right now. THUMBS DOWN!

Anuj:

The mediocrity called "Dibakar Banerjee" has been laid bare once again. People like Motwane, Banerjee and Kashyap are nothing more than Average ordinary film-makers who have been raised to a pedestal courtesy some ridiculous media hype and senseless armchair viewers for whom good cinematography and good camerawork = a good film. Neeraj Pandey and Subhash Kapoor are the only 2 film-makers making low scale commercial ventures who've successfully blended strong content with good entertainment value and the results are there to see.

meetu:

@Anuj Question: Are there any non-armchair viewers?

Anuj:

@Meeta: Yes, the millions who choose to skip films made by directors like Banerjee, Kashyap and Motwane on a regular basis and choose entertaining content over bland wannabe artistic rubbish!

Pallavi:

I loved the movie! Excellent attempt to recreate Calcutta of the 40s. Want more such movies from Bollywood!

TimELiebe:

@Anup, are any of the Byomkesh books translated into English?

If it helps, we get that with English-language detective books as well. Nobody's played Robert A. Parker's Spenser or Hawk properly, nor Gregory MacDonald's Fletch - and the women detectives (P.I. Warshawski, Stephanie Plum) get it even worse! Could this be a case of (as it is with Fletch) the star wanting to play a character differently than s/he was written so as to make it a star vehicle?

TimELiebe:

We finally saw it a couple weeks back, Meeta - and the period setting was generally great, the acting was good, and I'll give credit to Yash Raj Films for not trying their usual Love Story Masala. (Is this their first movie with no dance numbers, and the only song is a catchy pastiche of a period pop number to set mood?)

But.... Unless Byomkesh Bakshy is as popular in India as Sherlock Holmes is in the West, I have a feeling a lot of local audiences will be as confused as we Westerners were with who on Earth these characters are, why they're doing what they're doing, and how they all interrelate. In a group where everybody is at least a casual mystery fan you wouldn't think we'd spend a lot of time going "Wait? Why did that just happen? What's going on?" - but we did a lot during this movie, because we couldn't latch onto genre conventions to follow the story.

I don't think this is a cultural difference either, as we've been able to watch Feluda movies and follow the story just fine. I think whoever wrote and produced this just assumed we'd know who everybody was, so they didn't need to fill us in on any of them....

meeta:

No @TimELiebe, I don't think this is a case of "Lost in cultural difference" It is just the way you described it.

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