Yash Raj Films and Dibakar Banerjee Productions’ Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (UA) is a murder mystery solved by a detective. The film is set in Calcutta in pre-Independence India.
Ajit Banerjee (Anand Tiwari) is concerned about his father, Bhuvan Banerjee, who disappeared two months earlier. He approaches Byomkesh Bakshy (Sushant Singh Rajput) to help him trace his father. Byomkesh gets on the job and soon realises that Ajit’s father has been murdered.
He now sets out on a journey to understand who murdered Bhuvan Banerjee and why, and to trace the murderer. He chances upon some clues and keeps getting closer and closer to the murderer with every clue. Along the way, a few people are murdered by unknown persons, probably because they would spill the beans about the murderer of Bhuvan Banerjee before Byomkesh Bakshy. The finger of suspicion points to different people at different times.
Not only is the revelation of the killer shocking but so is his motive. Byomkesh Bakshy realises along the way that the murder of Bhuvan Banerjee was just the tip of the iceberg and that the murderer had very big and insidious plans.
Writers Urmi Juvekar and Dibakar Banerjee have adapted the original story of Saradindu Bandyopadhyay. The story is interesting as it involves the audience in the guessing game. But it becomes heavy and boring and confusing post-interval. The screenplay, penned by the duo, moves at a fairly fast pace in the first half. However, the scenes to unravel the intent of the killer get boring after a point of time. In other words, while the attempt of Byomkesh Bakshy to solve the murder mystery throws up an interesting and engaging drama till the point where the identity of the murderer is revealed, the bigger drama of why the murder was committed does not remain as interesting, and not just because the same is confusing. Besides, many of the characters have difficult (Bengali) names and are played by unknown faces, making the drama only more difficult to comprehend. A lot of shooting has been done in the dark as the scenes are of the night and although these would not normally have irritated the audience, they do so because the drama gets boring after a point of time.
On the other hand, what holds the audience’s interest is the intelligent way in which Byomkesh deciphers clue after clue and keeps getting closer to his target. And since the screenplay involves the audience in the guessing game, it does manage to entertain upto a point. The duo’s dialogues are natural and interesting but definitely often lack the punch.
Sushant Singh Rajput is natural and easy-going in the title role. He plays the titular character well but it would’ve been far better if his character had been made more endearing. Anand Tiwari does a fine job as Ajit Banerjee. Newfind Divya Menon is quite nice in the role of Satyawati. Swastika Mukherjee is truly impressive as Angoori Devi. Neeraj Kabi shines as Dr. Anukul Guha. He is supremely natural and steals the show whenever he comes on the screen. Meiyang Chang is alright as Kanai Dao but it must be added that he gets limited scope. Mark Bennington performs ably as deputy commissioner of police Wilkie. Takanori Higuchi has his moments as Dr. Watanabe. Dr. Kaushik Ghosh is alright as Gajanan Sikdar. Shivam lends fair support as Sukumar. Pradipto Kumar Chakraborty (as Puntiram), Arindol Bagchi (in the role of Ashwini Babu), Anindya Banerjee (as Prafulla Ray), Moumita Chakraborty (as Leela), Peter Wong (as Underboss), Tirtha Mallick (as Atanu Chandra Sen), Piyali Ray (as Dr. Watanabe’s receptionist), Kawaljeet Singh Banga (as the Sikh taxi driver) and the others provide the desired support.
Dibakar Banerjee’s direction is fairly good but, like the script, caters more to the class audience. His narration also seems a bit too indulgent. Music (by Madboy/Mink, Sneha Khanwalkar, Blek, Peter Cat Recording Co., Mode AKA, Joint Family and IJA) is functional. Lyrics, by Madboy/Mink, Sneha Khanwalkar, Rishi Bradoo, Suryakant Sawhney, Sandeep Madhavan, Akshay De and IJA, are alright. Background music (by Madboy/Mink, Blek, Peter Cat Recording Co., Mode AKA, Joint Family and IJA) is good but too loud at places – so loud that the dialogues are not clearly audible, at times. Nikos Andritsakis’ camerawork is splendid except that the night scenes sometimes become difficult to comprehend because of the limited lighting. Action (Parvez Fazal Khan) scenes are okay; some of them are very gruesome. Vandana Kataria has done a creditable job of the production designing by re-creating the atmosphere of Calcutta of the 1940s. Editing, by Manas Mittal and Namrata Rao, could’ve been sharper.
On the whole, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is an ordinary fare which does not give the audience the thrill of a murder mystery. While it will be liked by the classes, its acceptance among the masses will be limited. It will, therefore, not do good business at the box-office.