As soon as you settle in and the movie begins, you are pulled into a unique, beguiling sepia toned, rose tinted world, a world that we look back with admiration and intrigue, a world of simple people with simpler lives.
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Director Dibakar Banerjee with his admirable eye for detailing, charmingly transports us to Calcutta of late 30s, right in the middle of the uncertainty and chaos created by World War II.
This was the historical phase when the country’s general sentiment of simmering resentment towards the British was fast reaching a boiling point, after being forced to be part of the war. What is still endearing about detective Byomkesh Bakshi’s character after 80 years of him being created by the genius Bengali writer,
Shardindu Bandhopadhyay is that, he is not a quintessential hero, he is one of us, who happens to have honed his observation power and whose brain cells work at a speed, perhaps just a few minutes faster than other mortals.
And that is why Sushant Singh Rajput with his understated performance smugly fits into this role too. Dibakar Banerjee also stays true to the ‘Bengaliness’ of the character, white dhotis and cigarette blowing smoke not wavering from its well-earned place. Byomkesh is looking for the missing father of his classmate, Ajit Bandopadhyay (Anand Tiwari) and inadvertently stumbles upon the dark secret of a dangerous gang.
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As Byomkesh puts piece by piece together to solve the mystery, you look at the film piece by piece and get mighty impressed by the efforts that has gone into painstakingly recreate the era, individual characters, the ambience, the lingo, the body language and the mannerisms and those dialogues.
Dibakar, in his strongly individualistic and confident style brings each fascinating character into life, even if they don’t have much to do in the whole scheme of things. His characterisation of a male house help is pure delight. However, put those brilliant individual pieces together, the overall film leaves you underwhelmed.
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The discredit for this could go to the somewhat convoluted story construction and narration and a hint of self-indulgence. The first half keeps you excited but the second half is tad disappointing as it dips in pace and energy.
Credit to the director perhaps, but each of the characters, leading with Sushant and Neeraj Kabi, have come up with extremely convincing performances. Only Swastika Mukherjee, the Bengali actress who makes her debut in Hindi films, seemed to be trying too hard to fit into the mysterious character Angoori Devi that she plays. Don’t miss it. Even if just to go back to the magical world of nostalgia created so beautifully and earnestly by Banerjee and cinematographer Nikos Andritsakis.