BOMKESH BAKSHI (2010) Bengali Movie Review

BOMKESH BAKSHI is a 2010 Bengali film directed by Anjan Dutta starring Abir Chatterjee, Saswata Chatterjee, Biswajit Chakraborty, Phalguni Chatterjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Chandan Sen and others. Byomkesh Bakshi is a must watch for all and an excellent work by Anjan Dutta.

Bomkesh Bakshi -Abir Chatterjee and Saswata
Bomkesh Bakshi -Abir Chatterjee and Saswata Chatterjee

Review: BOMKESH BAKSHI – VERY GOOD

Cast and Crew:

  • Produced and Presented by: Shibaji Panja and Kaustubh Roy
  • Banner: R.P. Techvision India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Direction: Anjan Dutt
  • Cinematography: Indraneel Mukherjee
  • Art Direction: Gautam Basu
  • Editing: Arghya Kamal Mitra
  • Cast: Abir Chatterjee, Saswata Chatterjee, Biswajit Chakraborty, Phalguni Chatterjee, Swastika Mukherjee, Chandan Sen, Kalyan Chatterjee, Swagata Mukherjee, Ushashie Chakraborty, Pijush Ganguly.
  • Release date: 13th August, 2010
  • Rating: 8/10

Saradindu Bandopadhyay is an outstanding pillar of Bengali literature though he spent most of his creative life outside Bengal. He created the best Bengali sleuth ever in the name and style of Bomkesh Bakshi whose charisma refuses to fade across three generations of Bengalis. He wrote 33 detective stories with the same detective and his friend-cum-alter-ego Ajit, who is both narrator and writer of all his detective case histories. Basu Chatterjee’s Bomkesh series in Hindi starring Rajit Kapoor as the detective was very popular. Satyajt Ray made Chiriakhana (1967) based on a Bomkesh murder mystery in which Uttam Kumar played the only Bomkesh Bakshi for screen in his entire career and won the first National Award for the Best Actor. Bomkesh was born in 1932 and his career ended in 1969. Sandip Ray made a television series on Bomkesh Bakshi stories. Swapan Ghosal made another one and there is a third episodic serial on the same sleuth for another Bengali channel.

Bomkesh Bakshi Bengali Film Still
Bomkesh Bakshi Bengali Film Still

Adim Ripu is about the murder of Anadi Babu (Biswajit Chakraborty), a wealthy but ill-mannered and lecherous, aged man who lives in an old mansion. He is shot from behind as he stands on one of the long balconies of his house watching the fireworks in the compound below. Bomkesh Bakshi (Abir Chatterjee) steps in to solve the murder. Everyone who lives in this house is suspect. Anadi’s two nephews Nimai and Nitai who stay separately, and were threatening him for their share of his ill-gotten wealth are also suspects. Sometime later, Anandi Babu’s friend-turned blackmailer (Kalyan Chatterjee) who is forever drunk, is also killed in a dark alley. Thanks to the telepathic and real bonding between Bomkesh and his alter-ego Ajit (Saswata Chatterjee), they traverse the labyrinthine alleys of strange characters, their interaction and incidents against the backdrop of the communal riots of 1963 in Calcutta, the two murders are solved but with a twist in the tale that is not a happy one.

The film opens on a violent scene of arson ending capturing the killing of one man by another (away from the frame) when some parts of Kolkata seem to be under severe communal tension. Dutt has brought forward the time setting from 1947 to 1963 to offer the audience a glimpse of the Calcutta that existed during that time where Park Street was agog with the songs of a hotel singer Shiuli (Swastika Chatterjee), where Bantul (Chandan Sen) sells everything that should not be sold in the open from firearms to drugs, where even small publishers and book shop dealers knew everything about authors and writers, never mind the tension-filled backdrop of firing, stabbing and arson.

The characterizations throw up a rainbow of colours, or, perhaps a prism through which you see a world of the Sixties you have never seen before. Nonibala Das (Swagata Mukherjee) who approaches Bomkesh in the beginning is a complex character with dark shades. She tries to keep to herself and is fiercely protective of her adopted son Prabhat (Rudraneel Ghosh) who was also adopted by Anadi Babu later who got him trained in book binding and in opening a book shop. Keshta (Kalyan Chatterjee), Nripen (Orindol Bagchi), the so-called secretary of Anadi Babu, Gadananda (Pijush Ganguly) Shiuli’s boyfriend are a virtual medley of characters drawn as if, out of a magician’s hat. Bomkesh deals with each one of them with his slick detecting skills dominated more by his ability to read into the minds of the characters than with the detailed physical observation powers of Sherlock Holmes.

Bokesh Bakshi Bengali Film by Anjan Dutta
Bokesh Bakshi Bengali Film by Anjan Dutta

Abir Chatterjee in his first single-hero role after an okay debut in Cross Connection brings across Bomkesh with the restraint, the subtle arrogance, the dignity that matches the original or perhaps improves upon it. Like his literary parallel, he is middle-class, sharp, full of ready wit and poetry, and unlike most detectives in literature, is not eccentric. Saswata Chatterjee is the perfect foil as Ajit, the narrator-cum-friend who often voices his exasperation for Bomkesh playing his cards close to his chest. Dutt has the uncanny directorial talent of bringing out the best in very good actors whose potential is not explored properly.  Kalyan Chatterjee as the alcoholic blackmailer Keshta is brilliant and so is Chandan Sen as Bantul, the dealer in illicit goods. Pijush Ganguly portrays Gadananda completely against his usual image. Swastika as the hotel crooner looks beautiful and pulls off her arrogant irreverence very well indeed. Biswajit Chakraborty has very little to do. Swagata Mukherjee as Nonibala invests the character with the right degree of masculinity, shrewd calculation mixed with the mother’s blindness to her child’s mistakes. The two women characters are very strong, aggressive and complex. Phalguni Chatterjee as the opportunistic lawyer who changes colour like a chameleon is a wonderful cameo. But it is Rudraneel Ghosh who steals the film from the other characters and runs away with the credit. Prabhat is timid, diffident, knowledgeable and intelligent but apologetic about his standing in Anadi Babu’s household.  He continues to surprise us with his brilliant versatility in every film. He defies every rule in the book of the conventional screen hero with his very unconventional looks and lack of height by undercutting these with his mind-blowing histrionics.

With Dutt who is also actor, singer, composer and lyric writer at the helm and his son Neel scoring the music, it must have been difficult to resist the temptation to fill the scenario with a melodious background score and songs galore. But he evinces incredible control by using music very sparingly, thoughtfully and fittingly from beginning to end. The music is just there, unobtrusive yet making its mood-centric presence felt as a subtle layer to the proceedings in the foreground.

Gautam Basu’s art direction and Indraneel Mukherjee’s cinematography are the other high points of the film captured on location against the backdrop of the communal riots with fire raging in some pockets of Calcutta where Bomkesh and Ajit negotiate the lanes with care and caution and which snatches the life of Keshta. The skyline is mostly orange while the indoor shots of Bomkesh’s home gleams with the polish of wood, a photograph here, a wall-hanging there, with Bomkesh smoking from time to time and looking solemnly through his black-framed glasses, an addition to the screen character not there in the original. Anadi Babu’s spacious home is probably shot in Kolkata’s Laha Bari. The lighting is outstanding, capturing the shadows of the night in the Park Street hotel where Bomkesh and Ajit are shown out of focus in the background as the camera and the bright light zooms on Shiuli’s face and body. The long shots of Anadi and Keshta running away along the railway tracks in the flashback are good because they are crisp and short. Arghya Kamal Mitra’s editing takes care of the rest. You see a Calcutta you have either not seen or have forgotten about – the cinema posters on the walls, the music streaming through, the old, black instrument called the telephone with its age-old ring tone in a world where the cell phone did not exist, Nonibala’s starched Bengali cotton saris worn just right, her Conan Doyle left open on her desk, Bomkesh and Ajit’s spotless white kurta-pyjamas juxtaposed against the printed shirts of Bantul and Gadananda, Swastika’s sultry make-up and hairdo, the works.

There is one grouse though. The scene showing the interaction between Bomkesh who suddenly meets a Muslim friend from school ready for the kill is uncalled for. Dutt also embarks on the Hindu-Muslim issue at places to fit into the turbulent backdrop and time but visuals and the sound design are so ambient and fitting that such intrusions are redundant.

Bomkesh Bakshi is perhaps Anjan Dutt’s most finished and sophisticated production till date. He deserves kudos for placing a challenging Saradindu classic on film. Bengali cinema is not well known for films made in the detective genre that keeps the audience hooked from beginning to end. Bomkesh Bakshi is different. The entire Bengali audience spanning two generations, have either read the story or watched a televised version of the story or heard it from someone else. Yet, not once do you feel the predictability washing over you because you know who did it.

by Shoma A. Chatterji

30 thoughts on “BOMKESH BAKSHI (2010) Bengali Movie Review

  1. I do not agree with Shoma Chatterji’s review. The film is highly disappointing. The riot scenes are so very amateurish. Abir Chatterji does’nt have that maturity or an edge of an detective. The film is so very tiresome. The jabbering goes on and on without any break or relief. The music is not original, it is lifted from Hollywood movie Sherlock Holmes. I would give Bomkesh Bakshi film 1.5 out of 5.

  2. I agree with J.R.! Anjan Dutt is the most confused man around and for him to handle something as delectable and delicate as Byomkesh was a bad idea in the first place. Two thumbs down!!

    1. You must have read all the comments about Anjan Dutt’s Bomkesh Bakshi. Dont be blind anymore, it is high time to open your eyes and see the real truth.

  3. guys at least mr dutta tried something new…instead of bogus garbage ,tollywood is producing everyday.
    If you dont like ,it doesnt matter but you should appreciate his effort towards flim.I have not seen this movie but after watching his tele-flim rudra sen er diary and chalo lets go.I became a big fan of anjan dutta.At least he is far better than those **** like ravi kinagi ,swapan saha and all other chicken shits

  4. i was utterly disgusted on viewing this film,felt more like watching a telefilm or a serial, very boring and unimpressive. but i strongly protest the way a section of the media is trying to hype the below average film for reasons which are both economic and political(loyalties). it can hardly qualify as cinema

  5. The film is ill-conceived and the story should have stuck to the original which in itself was outstanding. Ajit is only 3 months older than Byomkesh and so Saswata is a miscast. The backdrop should have been the period representing independence eve and not sixties. The rich flavor of the story is lost replaced by a drab concoction.

  6. The director of a film based on a classic like Adim Ripu owes it to the audience to remain faithful to the story and the author’s (Sharadindu) vision. I felt betrayed after watching this movie; I am not interested in Anjan Dutta’s political views or his musical proclivities; and I certainly do not want to be lectured on communal history by a Marxist. I was robbed of 2 hours and more and Rs 100 by Mr Dutta and will not be seeing any movie by him ever again.

    1. I totally agree with you. Anjan Dutt should be literally “kicked” out of this arena of Bengali film Directors.
      He should be AWARDED for making the WORST films! Ha Ha Ha.

  7. It is evident from the above comments that the educated mass did not like Anjan Dutt’s version of the classic Adim Ripu. Then why does a prestigeous website like Calcutta Tube brought someone like Shoma Chatterji to do the review. She misleads people especially those who reads the review first and then watch the movie. Sorry, her views and comments doesn’t match with the intelligent class at all. Please engage someone more honest and genuine–above all contemporary!

  8. The movie is total wastes of money & time. Mr. Dutta Tried to to make a Classic Movie. But Shoots are not fulfill the language of Cinema. Please any 1 can answer those Question.

    1. Why all people wear brand new dress during “DANGA”(riots).
    2. why AJIT & Nripen totaty ignore the “DANGA”(riots)& continue there conversation while they are in a riot pron zone.
    3. why Kesto Don’t tell to Bomkesh that, Anadi Babu also killed his Father.
    4. According to the main story Nanibala got a Curier by which she know Anadi babu is Original Father of Prabhat. which is one of the piller of the story, But some how this link is missing.

  9. Byomkesh Bakshi is the “worst thriller” ever made in this part of the world! Anjan dutta as always a director who thinks too much but never can interpret himself on screen as a director, Byomkesh Bakshi, his attempt at a detective thriller is a bogus film! It’s a sheer waste of time and concentration along with money to watch this tedious immatured film where hundreds of movie goers are thronging the halls only because they DO NOT KNOW WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THEM!!! Satyajit Ray’s Chiriakhan, Sonar Kella and other detective thrillers in Bengali has been successes all throught he fifties, sixties and even seventies. Moreover, Byomkesh Bakshi by Saradindu Banerjee is a very favorite character of the Bengalis. People are thronging the theatres only because they are expecting another ‘chirakhana’ and another Uttam Kumar maybe, but ALAS! Abir Chatterjee cannot be even compared with Uttam Kumar’s slippers…He is immatured, over-smart and a lousy actor. The perfect casting for Byomkesh would have been BHaswar Chatterjee, an actor with natural grace. anjan Dutta is a director who has become successful by FLUKE, and I tell you this is not going to stay this way forever. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE, IT HAS NOTHING THAT I CAN TERM AS ADETECTIVE MOVIE WHICH CONSISTS OF A PROPER DIRECTION, WONDERFUL DIALOGUES AND A LOVELY SCRIPT. THE MUSIC arranged and programmed by SHOVON JUNO MUKHERJEE sounds good, but it’s a complete lift from Hollywood thrillers and DOES NOT GEL with the film. Neel Dutt should retire since he does not know the ABCD of cinema music. His place is beside his father, playing the guitar, which is NEVER IN TUNE , just like his father Anjan Dutt, a lousy and BAD director who does not know what is film-making! He should go back where he belongs… a fumbling character, looking perpetually puzzled in a Mrinal Sen Film!

    1. I am 200 % supporter of your (Sanjay Dutta) opinion about Mr. confused (Anjan Dutta). He has only one quality that is ‘acting’. But unfortunately he tries to do everything except that.

  10. A writer of extraordinary calibre creates and immortalizes a character. A man devoid of cinematic idea but with enough money and clout shatters it. This is what sums up the Byomkesh film by Anjan Dutt. The media hype played its villainous role in misleading people and robbing cine-goers of hard earned money. Example reviewers like Shoma Chatterji who are good enough to mislead people with undeserving reviews. Either Dutt is a very bad film director or he made this film as a filler in between his other projects as nothing in the film gelled other than the confused mind of the film maker.

  11. Calcutta Tube is the only site where people honestly share their views. I only hope and pray Dutt to see these comments. He is just floating in happiness thinking the picture to be a super-hit. In reallity the people are queing the hall for the all-time classic author Saradindu Bandapadhey. Anjan Dutt is very cunning, he knew whatever trash he would make people will watch it. He is even contemplating of making two more Bomkesh Bakshi with that female Abir. God save us from this cheater!

    1. Dear Mr. Dasgupta,
      thanks for giving CalcuttaTube the respect of being honest. We try our best not to be partial to any film/film maker/ star/ producer etc.

      We love to be independent and we value user comments.

  12. I understand that Sri Anjan Dutt has bought film rights of 3 more Byomkesh stories. If the mess he has made of the first is any indication, even God cannot save the Byomkesh created by Sharadindu Bandopadhyay. It is reported that Sri Dutt is contemplating a remake of Tagore’s Ghare Baire. So after finishing off Byomkesh, he is turning to Tagore and Satyajit Ray.

    1. God Bless Anjan Dutt! Thanks for the comment Sanmoy and others. Hope to watch the film as soon as it come out in DVDs. Our reporters expressed good feeling for the movie. It seems a group of people did not like the movie at all. I am wondering why.

      Sanmay, could you explain what “MESS” Anjan da actually made in the film? Thanks.

      1. Dear Mr Basu, in an earlier comment u confessed that u r blind to Anjan Dutt’s faults, I suggested u to open your eyes,but u didn’t. You still prefer to be Dhritarashtra and live in a ‘Bela Bose’ dream. U insulted us by commenting ‘a certain section of people’. How do u know that? How many people raise their voice? Only a certain section does. The mass maybe grumbling on their own. As far as the reporter, she may not be honest or a media partner of Anjan Dutt’s film. I suggest u watch the movie on a big screen and u will soon forget the language of cinema u have acquired over the years!:-)

        1. No One insulted you or anybody else in here. I do love Anjan Dutt. I have no way to watch the film however. If it is bad, I will accept it as bad.
          When it comes down to liking for film, I have seen many great films not liked by the mass.

          As far as our reporter, Shoma Chatterji is most trustworthy. As CalcuttaTube, we do not praise any Producer, Director or stars.
          I hope you are wrong. If not, I would pray for improved film by Mr. Dutt.

          That’s all.
          Don’t take it personally. Not over a film discussion please!

  13. After the devastating “Byomkesh Bakshi” if Anjan Dutt has plans to remake GHARE BAIRE, then I don’t know where the Bengalis will run to hide their faces in Shame. Directors, especially nonsense directors who even think of making remake of a Satyajit RAY film, should be HANGED IN PUBLIC!

  14. I read the whole discussion and I think that last point is debatable. Someone did tried to make a remake of a Satyajit Ray classic(probably his best) and succeeded. I mean the film “Autograph” here. Also the Byomkesh film by dutt was weak at some places (especially the danga sequences, which were childish), I should certainly praise the character of Shiuli Mazumdar. It was really a nice multi-shaded and bold character which Mr. Dutt created and it mixed very well with the theme.

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