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Bitten by the Byomkesh bug

Everlasting popularity of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda has inspired the Tollywood directors to work on detectives created by Bengal’s best writers.

kolkata Updated: Aug 22, 2016 18:05 IST
Anindita Acharya
Anindita Acharya
Hindustan Times
Tollywood,Bengali detective films,Byomkesh Bakshi
A scene from Har Har Byomkesh which was one of the biggest grossers.(Shree Venkatesh Films)

What’s common between Ebar Shabor, Mishawr Rawhoshyo, Byomkesh Bakshi, Badshahi Angti and Har Har Byomkesh?

Apart from the fact that these are some of the most popular films the Bengali film industry has produced in the last few years, all the scripts were inspired by the works of Bengal’s best-selling writers. And, thanks to box office response, the trend has now made crime solvers part of a genre in Bengal’s commercial cinema that has traditionally churned out romance, action and comedy. In 2016, too, filmmakers are banking on detectives to deliver hits.

Bengalis have always been fascinated by detective stories. At least two generations have sincerely followed Satyajit Ray’s Feluda, Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Kabababu, Nihar Ranjan Gupta’s Kiriti Roy and Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s Byomkesh Bakshi through their nail-biting adventures. One of the best filmmakers the world has seen, Ray paved the way with his Sonar Kella. Others followed his footsteps and repeatedly went back to the private eyes for ‘guaranteed’ box office success.

If we take a closer look at films made in the last three years, it becomes apparent that sleuths are here to stay. In fact, the stupendous success of Srijit Mukherji’s Mishawr Rawhosyo - based on Sunil Gangopadhyay’s creation Kakababu - inspired the filmmaker to make the next film in 3D, making it the first film in Bengali cinema to use the technology. The director, who scouted for locations in the Swiss Alps a year ago, will start shooting for the film (Prosenjit Chatterjee plays Kakababu in the celluloid adaptation of Paharchuray Aatonko ) in May 2017.

Interestingly, actor-turned Trinamool Congress MP, Tapas Pal, will also play Kakababu in Anjan Banerjee’s next film.

Prosenjit Chatterjee (right) as ‘Kakababu’ in Srijit Mukherji’s Mishawr Rashya, a runaway hit from 2013. (Shree Venkatesh Films)

Director Arindam Sil tasted instant success when he introduced the character Shabor Dasgupta - a creation by famous noveslist Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay- in Ebar Shabor in 2015. In fact, he didn’t even wait for a year before coming up with another Shabor film. Eagoler Chokh, the second in the series, is already a hit. Sil also plans to make films on Buddhadev Guha’s cult character Rijuda with Ritwick Chakraborty in the lead.

In 2015, Anjan Dutt found success with Byomkesh Bakshi starring Jisshu Sengupta in the lead. And Sil’s debut Byomkesh Bakshi film, Har Har Byomkesh, with Abir Chatterjee playing the iconic sleuth, received rave reviews. To present his version, director Saibal Mitra presented an aged Byomkesh with Dhritiman Chatterjee playing the sleuth in Sajarur Kanta.

2016 will witness a number of detectives hitting the big screen. Debutant director Ayan Chakraborti has already presented his own private eye Chandrakanta (actor-turned-Trinamool Congress MLA Chiranjit played the role) to solve the mystery in Shororipu.

Read: Literature key to success of Bengali films: Saswata Chatterjee

Come September and Anindya Bikas Dutta will introduce author Nihar Ranjan Gupta’s iconic detective, Kiriti Roy, to the big screen for the first time. Indraneil Sengupta plays the sleuth in Kiriti O Kalo Bhromor. Kaushik Sen will play Kiriti’s life-long adversary Kalo Bhromor (the black bee).

Sandip Ray has successfully carried forward the Feluda legacy left behind by his father Satyajit Ray with films such as Royal Bengal Rahasya and Badshahi Angti. Now he is wrapping up the schedule of a yet-to-be-named film with actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty to mark Feluda’s 50th anniversary this year.

Actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty (right) as Feluda in Sandip Ray’s Royal Bengal Rahashya. (Shree Venkatesh Films)

That’s not all. During Durga Puja, director Anjan Dutt and actor Jisshu Sengupta will be presenting their new Byomkesh Bakshi project based on Chiriyakhana which was first made into a film by Satyajit Ray and starred the legendary Uttam Kumar.

Director Aniket Chattopadhyay, too, plans to present his take on Kiriti Roy with Chiranjit in the lead.

Chattopadhyay, who is adapting from Setarer Sur, will be recreating the 1950s. The recall value of these characters are strong and hence filmmakers continue to work on the ageless detectives.

City-based psychiatrist and life coach Dr Siladitya Roy believes that it’s the hidden desire of people to learn about the secrets of others that draws them to thrillers and detective films. Sil, the only director in Tollywood to make films on three popular sleuths from literature - Byomkesh, Rijuda and Shabor - agrees. “There’s a detective hidden inside all of us. The audience loves to solve a crime even while watching a film,” he says.

Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh (left) as Byomkesh Bakshi in director Rituparno Ghosh’s last film Satyanweshi in 2013. (Shree Venkatesh Films)

Director Anindya Bikas Dutta, who is gearing up for his debut Kiriti Roy film, agrees with Sil. “Bengalis are inquisitive by nature. The audience gets involved while watching a detective on screen. I always admired Kiriti because he is not someone who sits at home and solves a case. He chases the culprit,” Dutta says.

Sandip Ray says Feluda commands respect and is not outdated. “The Bengali traits in Feluda adds to the flavour. His stories are travelogues and adventure rolled into one since he travels a lot. The stories offer a lot of information in a light-hearted manner. One can learn a lot by reading Feluda,” says Ray.

First Published: Aug 22, 2016 18:05 IST