BYOMKESH LOOKS STUNNING – BUT COULD BE SHARPER!
STORY: Byomkesh Bakshy wants to find Bhuvan babu – but what happens when Byomkesh unearths a highly sinister plot?
REVIEW: Straight up, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is possibly India’s best-looking sleuth flick till now. Based on Saradindu Bandhopadhyay’s vintage stories, DBB! is set in 1942 Calcutta where clever Byomkesh (Sushant) is asked by Ajit Banerjee (Anand) to help find his father, Bhuvan babu, mysteriously missing for months
At Bhuvan’s lodgings, Byomkesh is befriended by doctor Anukul Guha (Neeraj Kabi) and Kanai Dao (Meiyang Chang) who sells opium – in a Calcutta that’s all about intoxicants, smugglers and smoke. Byomkesh finds a trail to Gajanand Sikdar’s chemical factory where sensuous film star Angoori (Swastika) intrigues him, imperious Satyawati (Divya) annoys him and rebellious Sukumar (Shivam) puzzles him – discovering blackmail, drugs, bodies and bombs, can Byomkesh solve not one but two dangerous plots?
Byomkesh Bakshy is an iconic Bengali character brought to life by Sushant Singh Rajput with great elan – Sushant pulls off a role full of wry liveliness (a Sardarji cabbie nervously noting, ‘Ye babu ka nut dheela hai,’), fitting the character, from flowery dhoti folds to furrowed-forehead frowns, beautifully. He’s matched by dramatic Neeraj Kabi and calm Anand Tiwari who, after a Chinese gang leaves a courtyard strewn with corpses, tells caretaker Putiram (shakily precise Pradipto Kumar Chakrabarty), ‘Khoon rehne de…bas chai bana de.’
Alongside, the look is remarkable – noir cinematography unfurls a Calcutta of jostling shadows and splendid squalour, trams like filigree running across the city, costume balls, dentists’ halls where murders are committed with violent slash. Dibakar Banerjee adds cheeky global touches too (Byomkesh’s painting resembles Edvard Munch’s Scream), tracking shots evoking Fellini’s moving camera, action punching between Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino.
But the film stretches, scenes between Byomkesh a nd a slow-talking, slow-smoking, slow-pouting Angoori losing pace. Superfluous characters (wailing wife, dumbstruck ex) make growing tension pop away like the bubbles on Angoori’s bath foam. A chilling climax masterfully ties up the tale – but 30 minutes less would’ve given this detective a much tighter grip.
Still, DBB! is a fun watch, presenting another mysterious case – how Sushant looks good, despite a uni-brow?