Byomkesh O Chiriyakhana (2016)

I have always been a fan of Anjan Dutt’s Byomkesh series, since its first release in 2010. With the release of each movie, I’ve watched them eagerly, trying to re-discover Byomkesh. Byomkesh O Chiriyakhana is no exception.

The strongest point of the Byomkesh series, I feel, is its Ajit. Portrayed by Saswata Chattopadhyay, his voice and acting has always mesmerised me since the first film. Apart from that, Dutt always works with a small group of powerful actors, and always is on the go to keep his unit running.

Now, with this film, as one would imagine, it was difficult not to make it look like a remake of the master’s (Satyajit Ray) Chiriyakhana, starring Uttam Kumar. And Dutt more or less succeeds, only by staying true to Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s original story.

The story, as one might recall, is set in a fictitious colony, an hour or so from Sealdah. Byomkesh O Chiriyakhana begins with Nishanath Sen, who sent a few to the noose during his tenure as a judge, inviting Byomkesh (Jisshu) over to unveil the mystery around a yesteryear actress. With aide Ajit (Saswata) and a producer friend in tow, Byomkesh makes a short trip and comes back more puzzled. Just when Sen seeks closure, he gets murdered and Byomkesh is implored to begin the probe by his friend, a cop. I will not delve into the plot more in this review, which is more or less established, this being the second movie of the novel.

Dutt’s Byomkesh, as portrayed Byomkesh O Chiriyakhana, requires a mention here. The portrayal is unlike any other portrayal done before, even if compared to the earlier Byomkesh films by Dutt. He is seen here as a vulnerable and sometimes temperamental sleuth, who detests the label Satyanweshi (quite unfamiliar). He is neither the Sharadindu’s Byomkesh, the hardcore Bong, nor is he Ray’s larger-than-life detective played by Uttam Kumar.

Jissu as Byomkesh is good, but I somehow feel, Abir was better, not in terms of acting, but in terms of characterisation. The scene where he visits an old Chinese para, brings back memories of Uttam Kumar, disguised as a Japanese horticulturist in Ray’s film. Saswata is just a treat to watch, just as all the films in the series. And I think he is the man of the series without any doubt. That apart, all the actors in smaller roles, do their bit to add drama to the plot.

Having said that, there are definitely a few low points of the film. The first half of the film is very neat, with a tightly woven script, but it fails in the second half, owing to the extra long screenplay. The camerawork throughout the film is quite good, and Dutt has done a good job by not getting into any era specific portrayal of the incidents. There’s nothing to validate the era in which Byomkesh O Chiriyakhana is set.

I’m going with 3 out of 5 stars for Anjan Dutt’s Byomkesh O Chiriyakhana. Watch is as a regular thriller, but do not forget to pay close attention, as some surprises await within the film.