An Indian crime thriller screened worldwide simultaneously, is what the newspapers say about Detective Byomkesh Bakshi. Directed by Dibakar Banerjee and produced by Banerjee and Aditya Chopra with distribution under the Yash Raj Films banner, the film has Sushant Singh Rajput, Anand Tiwari and Bengali actress Swastika Mukherjee in the main roles in the film, with Sushant Singh playing Detective Bakshy.
The film released all over on April 3rd, 2015. The period film, close to two and half hours, it was instantly followed by positive reviews and grossed heavily as a successful venture.
What is the film about?
In the backdrop of World war II, in 1942 in British ruled India, there were two rival gangs that existed at the Calcutta Docks, When a vicious fight broke out between the two, gangster Yang Guang murderously acts and blinds one of the rival group and sets stage for further events to follow, leading to a crime investigation by the law enforcement agencies, but independently pursued by Detective Bakshy and his sidekick friend which ultimately leads to the crime being solved. The film highlights the character of an Indian detective who despite the limited resources of the time shows as much brilliance in logical deduction and astuteness as any other from other parts of the world. In fact Bakshy, the original fictional creation of the Bengali author Sharadindu Bandhyopadhyay reminds one of the more familiar Sherlock Holmes, the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and neither has borrowed from the other.
The making of the film
After Khosla Ka Ghosla which was fairly successful, Dibakar Banerjee had Byomkesh Bakshi in mind, to showcase that Indian sleuths were world class. Taking off on the original novel series on Byomkesh Bakshi by Sharadindu Bandhyopadhyay but with personal adaptations for a film, he got in touch with Yash Chopra Films head Aditya Chopra in mid 2013,the joint venture was made official in the last week of June 2013, and the rights of Bakshy novels in 31 languages apart from the original Bangla was bought by Aditya Chopra in July 2013.Sushant was considered then itself as the one to play Bakshy, and ultimately platyed the role. Aamir was asked to play villain for this but opted for Dhoom 3, Rani Mukherjee refused to accept the female lead for personal reasons.
The Pains for the Gains
But beyond this came the sets which had to look original, dating back to the 1940s, costumes, hair styles, mannerisms, speech and a host of other detail that had to be gone into to make it an original and authentic period film, yet with a storyline and action that should appeal to current day audiences in India and worldwide and at the end of the day justify the venture by a successful box office.
There had been workshops held at regular intervals throughout for the selected cast to rigorously imbibe all that it could to portray real-life characters of that time, Manish Malhotra was roped in for the costume for Detective Bakshi while the sets were designed by Vandana Kataria to almost flawless execution. Trams and vintage cars, notable features of that age, have been filmed brilliantly while VFX technology has been used to bring back the charm of the 40’s. Shooting has been mostly in Kolkata and Mumbai. Though the shooting of the film took less than six months continuous from Jan to mid May in 2014, the planning and getting ready for location shoots started way back in 2012.
The songs from the original soundtrack is after sifting through more than 200 tracks collected from artistes all over the country and boiling it down to what has been presented by Banerjee and team. It has music from several genres but fits in with the requirements of the period.
Interestingly, marketing started with the letter ‘Y’ instead of ‘I’ for Byomkesh Bakshi, the original name of the fictional detective since notionally ‘I’ seemed small and insignificant ending to a powerful start of the name whereas ‘Y’ gave it an appropriate and noticeable finish. There have been promos with popular whodunit TV serials like CID, fun shows like Comedy Nights with Kapil, There is a mobile game available on Google Play Store by the same name, a fashion line of contemporary clothing displayed in Amazon India Fashion Week, held in New Delhi on March 26th this year related to the same cause showcased the costumes used.
What the critics said
The media is what people in public glare fear and favour the most. For it is the pen, that is mightier than the sword in current times. Good ratings of 4 out of 5 have come for varied reasons from attention to detail, the sustained interest throughout the film, the character of Byomkesh Bakshy in particular, the mystery that is both interesting and intriguing to even a glimpse into nostalgic times. There are others who have been a little more critical with lesser ratings for the pace of the film considering that it is a crime thriller, need for more thrill and tension and what not.
But none truly said so far that it was not worth the time spent on it, with tags ranging from ‘novel and enterprising’ to ‘fantastic, realistic portrayal of an age’.
What the audiences said in the first week itself
Ultimately it is what the audience says that counts. If the first week’s cash registers are an indication, it has been a phenomenal success. Reports put it as a collection of Rs.4.4 crores from international markets in the first three days. In India, in the first week, it grossed close to 20 crores.
Books have been written earlier, there have been a couple of television serials in Bangla and the Hindi one where Rajit Kapur plays Bakshi in the limited space of the ‘idiot box’ but it is quite another thing to see the magic of the young Detective Byomkesh Bakshy and his crime-solving in a much larger and preferred setting.
We need do nothing more. Just to take the earliest opportunity to make our way to a good theatre and see it for ourselves. I am sure some of us may even get to thinking like him after watching the movie.