Review Bengali

Byomkesh Gowtro review: Antagonist Satyakam overshadows detective Abir Chatterjee in engaging film

Cinestaan Rating

Release Date: 12 Oct 2018 / Rated: U/A / 02hr 13min

Roushni Sarkar

Byomkesh Gowtro is fascinating when it comes to exploring the sins of mankind. The elements of jealousy, greed and lust that navigate almost all the characters, keep this film engaging for the most part.

Arindam Sil’s Byomkesh Gowtro is one of the few detective films, in which the detective gets overshadowed by the antagonist. The dramatic portions of the film are more delightful and engaging than the ones involving the investigation. The director has also taken certain creative liberties in the story based on Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s Rakter Daag and has delivered a visual treat with cinematic finesse.

The story is originally set in post-Independence Calcutta of 1956, while the director has taken the entire plot to Mussoorie, which still retains the colonial era flavour. The antagonist of the film Satyakam (Arjun Chakraborty) is rather glamorous. Not only are his movements and lifestyle dramatic and larger than life; his dialogues are crisp, catchy and full of sarcasm and cynicism as well.

Casanova Satyakam from Mussoorie visits Byomkesh Bakshi (Abir Chatterjee) and asks him to investigate his murder, which he believes to be inevitable. Moreover, he states that he knows who might try to kill him, but refuses to disclose the suspect’s name to Byomkesh Bakshi. He is unabashed about his addiction to alcohol and declares that ladies love him. His audacious nature irritates Byomkesh, his confidante Ajit (Rahul Banerjee) and Satyabati (Sohini Sarkar); however, he pays Byomkesh’s fees beforehand as he might not get the chance to pay him after his murder.

Abir Chatterjee as Byomkesh Bakshi

In Mussoorie, starting from the local police inspector Pandeji (Harsh Chhaya), the sheltered relative Sitangshu, to his father Ushapati Das (Anjan Dutta) - all harbour maddening rage for Satyakam. However, Sitangshu’s sister Chumki (Sauraseni Mitra), Pandeji’s daughter (Bibriti Chatterjee) and cabaret dancer Emily (Priyanka Sarkar) are enamoured by him, despite being aware of his frivolous nature.

As soon as Byomkesh reaches Mussoorie, he senses that a lot of people are after Satyakam, but the latter doesn’t bother and behaves as if he has taken a vow to outrage all his enemies till the last moment of his life. Eventually he dies, leaving the sleuth curious about his outrage and deliberate indulgence. During the investigation several suspects warn Byomkesh to stop the investigation and all appear to protect the criminal. However, undaunted, Byomkesh gets to the bottom of the case.

There is always a risk in doing literature based films: Abir Chatterjee on Byomkesh Gowtro

Sil has evidently invested a lot in the creation of the character Satyakam. He is even shown to be attracted to Satyabati. However, Byomkesh’s cold reaction to such behaviour just for the sake of proceeding with the case doesn’t make much sense. Sil has also carefully sketched the other characters with a lot of drama, while leaving the character of the Satyanweshi solely on Abir Chatterjee.

The film generates more suspense till Satyakam dies than during the investigation. With the threats from the suspects, the identity of the criminal becomes quite apparent before the climax and the plot loses its intensity as well. While the first half seems extremely twisted, the storyline of the second half appears to be rather linear. The sequence in which Byomkesh tries to guess the position of the victim and the murderer could have been improved.

Arjun Chakraborty as Satyakam

Arjun Chakraborty shines as the spoilt child from an affluent family. He is conceited, brash and a flirt but at the same time, in his dialogue 'I was born to destroy families', he subtly hints at a certain helplessness on his part. He brings out the complexity of his character, who is true to his words when it comes to paying fees or being generous towards his love interests.

Abir Chatterjee seems rather insipid as the detective who is originally well aware of his intelligence and believes in his senses more than any external influence. In the film, Rahul Banerjee as Ajit sometimes appears to be more real than the sleuth. Rahul Banerjee is quite natural and spontaneous as well. Sohini Sarkar, too, delivers an endearing performance.

Among all of Satyakam’s love interests, Sauraseni Mitra stands out. Priyanka Sarkar fits the image of the sensuous cabaret dancer, though her expressions in the song 'Bisher Dhoan' fall short of the necessary seductiveness.

The actor who essays the character of Sitangshu brings out the inherent frustrations well. Harsh Chhaya gets into the skin of the character of Pandeyji. Anjan Dutta proves his brilliance as the mysterious Ushapoti, who never really wishes to give out much information himself for good reason.

The character of Satyakam’s mother is shown to be quite indulgent in her youth (Anindita Bose); however, in the present she (Baishakhi Marjit) doesn’t carry the trace of her glamorous lifestyle at all. Marjit is not really allowed to show the supressed emotions of her character in the film.

Sil and Padmanabha Dasgupta’s efforts behind creating the drama around Satyakam and Arjun Chakraborty’s performance are well aided by Shubhankar Bhar’s cinematography and Sanglap Bhowmick’s editing. They also magnificently capture the essence of the colonial hangover in the entire drama amidst the charm of Mussoorie, without making it superficial. The moments of flashback are never lengthy and the crisp scenes of silent eavesdropping and secret observance that are essential in detective films are composed with finesse.

Byomkesh Gowtro is fascinating when it comes to exploring the sins of mankind. The elements of jealousy, greed and lust that navigate almost all the characters, keep this film engaging for the most part.

 

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