April 23, 2012 (Calcutta Tube): Byomkesh and Ajit return for another gripping tale of mystery and detection in Anjan Dutta directed Aabar Byomkesh, an adaptation of Saradindu Bandyopadhyay’s Chitrochor where a perplexing theft hints at something more sinister.
Mystery follows the illustrious Satyaneshi even in the hills of Dooars where he recuperates after a severe illness and hopes to spend a quiet Chirstmas with Satyabati and Ajit. But a queer burglary at the respectable and wealthy Mahidhar Choudhury’ bungalow changes the situation. With a photograph being the only stolen thing, none had given it more than a passing thought but for Byomkesh who sensed something ominous behind this seemingly petty crime. While Purandar Pandey, the cheery police officer didn’t feel it worthy of an investigation and even Ajit approved of the fact, strange things started happening all around. Other copies of the photograph started disappearing and the negative, kept at the custody of the photographer Nakuleshwar went missing. Added to this is the peculiar behavior of the Deputy Magistrate, Umanath Ghosh who calls the cops only after two days since theft in his resident and is irritated to find Byomkesh probing into the matter. On the other hand the local bank manager, the suave Amaresh Raha, is only too eager to talk about anything with the adventurous duo. As his own investigation proceeded, Byomkesh seemed to stumble upon some more social complications – the chief being the hushed relationship between Aswini Ghatak, the young medical practitioner of town and Rajani, the widowed daughter of Choudhury. In the midst of all these, tragedy strikes with the murder of Falguni Pal, the vagabond and an addict but a gifted portraitist. What does it all mean? No serious crime seems to be committed and nobody seems to profit from Falguni’s death. But on the same night when Falguni was killed, Prof. Adinath Som was seen sneaking out in the dead of night closely followed by his wife, the cynic Malati Devi? Where did they go?
To know all these please visit the nearest theatre and watch the drama and suspense that unfolds amid the backdrop of the lush green landscape in the Himalayan foothills and get mesmerized by the captivating cinematography of Indranil Mukherjee. Not only the charming outdoor shots, but the grandeur followed in the exquisite indoor sets had also been captured in the most entrancing manner. Conforming to the time, traditional Bengali attire had been precisely followed that had been alternated with the prevailing European fashion as and when due. Shrabani Sen’s enchanting voice to the melodious Sakhi Jatona Kahar Kohe has heightened the romance and the tune will linger in the hearts of the audience till the thrill of the whodunit gradually gets the better of their senses. Arghya Kamal Mitra’s skilled editing, Anjan Dutta’s able direction and Neel Dutt’s judicious arrangement of background scores augments the thrill and suspense while emanating delicate warmth throughout. Speaking of thrill, it has been maintained at a gentle pace but for the climax where the entire excitement is diluted by the extreme loquaciousness of the primary characters and a greater but unnecessary focus on apparel. While watching the sequence, I just couldn’t resist comparison with the dramatic and crisp climax that Saradindu penned in the original and been meticulously followed by Basu Chatterjee in the Hindi soap version, Chitchor. In both instances the sequence was precise and spine-tingling.
This is not the only disappointment but there are several more instances where the movie falls short of the thrill promised in Dutt’s previous endeavour Byomkesh.
In casting, for instance, Sujan Mukherjee doesn’t do justice to the peculiar blend of professionalism and strength of character that Ashwini Ghatak demands. Also Swastika as Rajani seemed a poor choice as she somehow fails to impress the fact that she is indeed a young widow tormented between her duty towards her aged father and her secret love. Chandan Sen too has not only been grossly underutilized as Umanath Ghosh but also, being introduced as a reticent and reserved character, the script speaks otherwise.
But the rest of the cast has been neatly composed. First and foremost mention must be made of Debranjan Nag who had accurately portrayed the character Falguni Pal, with just the right mix of haggardness yet radiating the poise of a true artist. In the short role his character has evolved with a completeness for which credit is due both to him and the director.
Next is Saswata Chatterjee playing the role of ever dear Ajit. Held in astray between the loving squabbles of Byomkesh-Satyabati, flattered when Amaresh Raha praises his literary works, confused by the mystery, fearless in trailing suspects at the dark of night and finally trekking in disguise to the secret rendezvous – in each role Saswata is just as fascinating and as natural as he can be. He plays the pivotal role of narrator in several places and introduces the much needed human element, devoid of intricacies of social complications, in an otherwise tensed encounter of good and evil.
Kunal Padhy (Purandar Pandey) is another excellent choice and so are Biswajit Chakraborty (Mahidhar Choudhury), Pijush Ganguly (Prof. Adinath Som), Sudipa Bose (Malati Devi), Kaushik Sen (Amaresh Raha) and Arindol Bagchi (Nakuleshwar).
But the two other characters that deserve additional praise are Ushashie (Satyabati) and Abir Chatterjee (Byomkesh) whose combined performances project the true essence of Byomkesh Bakshi as conceived by Saradindu. Representing the intellectual Bengalee class, Abir plays the uncompromising truth seeker and the loving husband moulded into one while Ushashie complements well as Satyabati whose determination for her husband’s recovery doesn’t stand in way as she vehemently contradicts her husband in matters she honestly feels certain about. Thus the family man in Byomkesh predominates but never overwhelms the logician in Aabar Byomkesh and there is certainly a promise that the industry is witnessing a budding heart-throb in the making.
– Anirban De