Mr. Sanjib Banerji, a writer and an aspiring director is very well known to the Sholoana Bangaliana readers as the straightforward critic who would spare none and here we have him back with his opinion on Dibakar Banerjee’s highly talked about Detective Byomkesh Bakshy but not as a Film Critic but a well-read writer.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is now running in theaters and you surely have watched it…With what expectations did u go to watch the film.
Sanjib Banerji: I am a big fan of Dibakar Banerjee, the storyteller. I have been following his works since Khosla Ka Ghosla. His take on Satyajit Ray’s short story ‘Patalbabu Filmstar’ in Bombay Talkies was a lifetime experience (especially the climax part). To me ‘Sanghai’ is one of sleekest thrillers, crafted by a Bollywood filmmaker. Sanghai really did give birth to Emran Hasmi, the serious actor. So, I really had high expectations regarding ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy’… more so because I am an obsessive fan of Byomkesh Bakshi, created by Saradindu Bandopadhyay.
This question is directed to the writer that you are and not the critic…So what do u have to say about the film?
Hmmmm…. Interesting question! I have said earlier too that I am a big fan of Byomkesh Bakshi, the Satwayenshi but Dibakar Banerjee’s ‘Byomkesh Bakshy never seemed to me the Satwanyeshi (truth seeker), that I had etched in my mind since class 7. Dibakar’s take on the character is totally different from the Bong perception. My friends, who have read the thriller novels, written by Swapankumar will agree with me. Three of Swapankumar’s stories were loosely adopted by Dibakar and were blended into the plot. Especially the antagonist of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, seemed a mixture of ‘Dragon’ and ‘Baajpakhi’ to me. These were the characters created by late Dr. Samarendra Nath Pandey alias Swapankumar. In fact the protagonist looked like an adaptation of Detective Dipak Chatterjee to me, once again the fictional sleuth hero, created by Swapankumar. Ref : Drug chokre Dragon & Antorjatik Shorojontre Baajpakhi. As a writer, I felt Dibakar should have given due credits to Swapankumar for providing such cinematic / international ingredients to his film but he preferred to label his film as Detective Byomkesh Bakshy instead, simply because the brand Byomkesh Bakshi sells more than Detective Dipak Chatterjee.
Now if you have to analyze the film as a film maker, would your observations and impressions change?
As an aspiring film maker, I must admit that Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is a lifetime experience technically. Almost all the technical / creative departments have performed their respective duties to the peak of excellence. I would like to mention about the Art department, it has performed to its optimum level. It must have been very tough to recreate 1943 Kolkata but the Art department has passed this acid test with utmost élan. The makeup and costume departments were also fabulous. Camera work was sleek and Hollywoodish. Salute to Dibakar Banerjee for leading the team so effectively by all means.
This new trend of having Bengal, precisely Kolkata is really catching up with Bollywood film makers and right after a yester years Kolkata Darshan in Byomkesh Bakshy we will get to see another aspect of Kolkata in Shoojit Sircar’s upcoming Hindi Film Piku. What do you have to say about this new trend?
Yeah, this is the new trend in Bollywood. I guess there are a lot of Probashi Bangalees living in Mumbai and the other metro cities as well. This section of audiences is very keen to watch their City of Joy on the big screen on a broader canvas. Hence, such a business strategy has evolved to satisfy their demands. Bong filmmakers like Sujoy Ghosh, Shoojit Sircar, Anurag Basu and definitely Dibakar Banerjee are instrumental in capturing their native city cinematically & projecting Bengal/Kolkata in their Bollywood ventures. As a Bengali and Kolkattan, I really do take pride in this. I hope, such projects get crafted more regularly.
Along with Kolkata as the backdrop, Byomkesh Bakshy also has Kolkata’s sweetheart Swastika Mukherjee essaying an important role. What do you have to say about Swastika’s versatility and suitability in the role?
Swastika Mukherjee is Tollywood’s pride indeed. Truly she is one of the most gifted actors nationally. I am a big fan of her acting skills and have absolutely loved her works in movies like Jatishwar, Bhooter Bhobisyot, Aami ar aamar girlfriends, Maach Mishti & More etc. Watching her enacting the character of Anguri in D.B.B was a sheer delight. She looked stunning as she has toned up amazingly, must have lost at the least 10 kgs of weight. Her eyes spoke a lot in the scenes where her dialogues were minimalistic. Thanks to Dibakar for choosing Swastika and I am sure she has satisfied the director with her performance in DBB.
Does Sushant Singh Rajput look like the essential Bong sleuth, if yes why, if not why?
Unfortunately Sushant did not look Bengali at all. Dibakar’s portrayal of Byomkesh Bakshy (not Bakshi) is a lot different from that of Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s fictional sleuth. May be that’s why Dibakar named him as Detective Byomkesh Bakshy and not Satwanyeshi Byomkesh Bakshi. I think this transformation was intentional as Dibakar intended to create a national franchise out of a regional literal character. Personally speaking I cannot imagine Byomkesh Bakshi with a moustache and the type of haircut, which was tried on Sushant Singh Rajput. To me Mahanayak Uttam Kumar was also a misfit casting in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Chiriakhana’ and so was Sujoy Ghosh in Rituporno Ghosh’s ‘Chorabali’ / Satyanweshi’. Only Anjan Dutt could create a believable Byomkesh by grooming up Abir Chatterjee, who was a new face then. For me Abir Chatterjee is the most believable Byomkesh Bakshi in the recent past years and very close will be Gaurab Chakraborty, the current Byomkesh in Colours Bangla. But the very best will always be Rajit Kapoor (he was seen as Byomkesh Bakshi in Director Basu Chatterjee’s tele series for DD National, way back in the 90’s) .
Byomkesh has always been known to present himself as Satyanweshi and not a mere detective, so what has Dibakar’s Byomkesh been presented as, a Satyanweshi or a mere detective?
Dibakar Banerjee’s protagonist was a proper blend of Swapankumar’s Detective Dipak Chatterjee and Ian Fleming’s James Bond. He is young, energetic, arrogant, shrewd, flirtatious and adventurous by nature. He seemed more of a secret agent than a Satwanyeshi. But that’s a personal opinion; if the national audience accepts such a version of Byomkesh Bakshi then I really don’t mind. The name Byomkesh Bakshi is a brand in itself, no matter what’s in store. Dhritiman Chatterji has played the senior version of Byomkesh Bakshi in Director Saibal Mitra’s ‘Sajarur Kanta’, just see the commercial outcome of the project! It has completed its 4th week at the theatres & multiplexes and is still going great guns. It also gave MacNeill Media & Mr. Pradip Churiwal their first hit. Truly speaking, BRAND BYOMKESH BAKSHI works like a magic. Bengali audiences just love this fictional man as he represents a typical Bengali middle class family man with a wife, a kid and a loyal friend.
Do you think, Dibakar Banerjee’s Byomkesh has elevated the sleuth into a household name and taken him from Bengal to a global platform with due tweaks and twists?
I am still awaiting this answer. Let’s hope for the best though.
You were all praises for Anjan Dutt’s Byomesh Phire Elo when it released a short while ago, Dutt’s Byomkesh has changed and now it’s Jisshu playing the sleuth, what are your expectations and predictions from and for the film?
Abir opted for Feluda after working in three consecutive Byomkesh movies and you just cannot play Byomkesh and Feluda at the same time. If you remember Sabyasachi Chakraborty had to sacrifice the character of Kakababu for being Felu da. And Soumitra Chatterjee wasn’t considered for Byomkesh by Satyajit Ray as he already had decided to cast him as Feluda by then. I guess the character of Felu da demands much sacrifices from the actors. hahahahahaha !!! Coming back to your question, now that Jisshu Sengupta is playing the iconic character Byomkesh Bakshi, I am sure an able actor like him will pull it off very well, especially under the supreme guidance of a great director like Anjan Dutt. All the very best to Kaustav Roy, Jisshu Sengupta and Anjan Dutt!
Mr. Banerji’s Debut Feature Film Sesh Anko produced under the banners of Mr. Pradip Churiwal’s Mac Neill Media is ready for release on July 3 and we wish him and Director Tathagata Banerjee the very best and hope that the writer and the director, both get the best of compliments from the audience.
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