Basu Chatterjee before and Anjan Dutta later have spoilt us viewers with some sensational rendering of the much loved truth seeker Byomkesh Bakshi. The highlights of their portrayals have been speed, taut editing and above all a tense environment all the way through. Pretty much the basic requirements of a whodunit thriller. The three Anjan Dutta films have upped the ante from the Basu Chatterjee series and the previous Satyajit Ray film, titled Chiriyakhna. His films have been instrumental in starting an almost new genre of thrillers which has inspired films like Ebar Shabor, Sesh Anko etc. He has just released a fourth film in the series.
At a time like this, Saibal Mitra comes around with a 3 hour long Byomkesh film in which he transcends all boundaries of adaptation and lets his imaginations run amuck with a character that is all too well known. What’s infinitely worse is the fact that he turns one of the most intense Byomkesh tales into a boring sob story. Byomkesh, with his British English accent and unnecessary theatricalities runs here and there trying to solve the case of a killer who murders his victims with the thorns of a porcupine as he is constantly pulled into a uninteresting case of a girl called Deepa (Konkana Sen Sharma) who is married to a millionaire businessman Debasish (Indraneil Sengupta) but has a secret lover with whom she plans to elope. The girl’s brother requests for Byomkesh’s assistance to locate the man in her life so that he can be dealt with.
The biggest problem with the film is that it takes ages to tell a story that it should have wrapped up in two hours at the most. Dhritiman’s Byomkesh minces his words in a manner as if the slower he spoke the more effective his speech would be. That is not the case. We have fully enacted Theatrical sequences which leave you dazed and bored. In all the previous Byomkesh films and series, the discussions between Byomkesh and Ajit are always so very interesting. That is because of the fact that through their discussion, we get valuable input into the story and the mystery of the plot. However in Shajarur Kanta, their discussions will almost make you fall asleep. There is just so much theatricality in their talks and the way it is shot is bound to make you uncomfortable. The sequence where Byomkesh makes his appearance for the first time, the camera repeatedly pans on his sandal clad foot which lies on the floor which in turns is covered with newspapers. I still fail to understand why they had to show it.
Dhritiman Chatterjee as Byomkesh Bakshi is terribly miscast. His suave demeanor, over the top entry and exist and unnecessary theatricalities make him a headache. Pradip Mukherjee as Ajit Bandyopadhyay is dazed and confused and he doesn’t seem to have a clue why. Sonali Gupta Basu as Satyabati is barely there. Konkana Sen Sharma and Indraneil Sengupta conjure up a sparkling chemistry. If only the script let their characters spread their wings, it would have been one of the few pluses for the film. Biswajit Chakraborty as Nripati Laha is the only comic relief. His probing questions into whether or not Deepa is consummating with Debasish are hilarious. Kaushik Sen as Prabal Gupta is another good actor who is wasted in a role which could have been thought after a bit more.
As Madhusree Ghosh so delightfully put it in Times of India, “Sajarur Kanta, the original story, is a readers’ favorite and Saradindu, being a scriptwriter himself, handled the story like a film’s plotline. Here, though, Saibal Mitra has given his imagination a free run in the name of turning the plot into a contemporary story. As a result, the motive, characters, denouement and circumstances are all changed. What we are served with is a three-hour yawn fest”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. This is a Byomkesh film like no other Byomkesh film. When I say that, I mean it in the worst possible sense. Steer clear of this one if you want to remain a Byomkesh fan.