7 reasons why you need to watch Detective Byomkesh Bakshy

Set in 1940s Calcutta, the film will introduce a whole new audience to the world of Bengali Noir.

Sushant Singh Rajput as Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. Courtesy Yash Raj Films
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Bollywood filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee has been planning his latest film, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, for decades.

Expectations are high for the period crime thriller, which is based on a popular, ­long-­running series of novels and stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Anand Tiwari and Swastika ­Mukherjee.

Even though the novels have inspired many Bengali films through the years, perhaps the most ­popular ­adaptation was the 1990s ­television series, ­Byomkesh Bakshi, which was directed by Basu Chaterjee and aired on Doordarshan. Starring Rajit Kapur in the title role, it ran for 33 ­episodes over two ­seasons.

But this is Bollywood’s first crack at the character. The movie finally hits the big screen today and we list the ­reasons why you won’t want to miss it.

1 Spreading the word

Leaving aside a string of films based on novels by the ­hugely successful author Chetan Bhagat, Indian cinema does not have much of a history of ­movie adaptations of books. This is why, when someone gives us one, we will happily take it with no questions asked.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is based on a series of books written by Bengali writer ­Saradindu Bandyopadhyay. Between 1932 and 1970, the chain-­smoking Bengali sleuth appeared in 32 novels, during which he went from being a young, single ­officer to a married man and ­father.

Banerjee, a long-time fan of the series, had wanted to explore the character and his motives and personal life in a film.

2 A golden touch

Banerjee has made ­several ­remarkable films. His 2006 ­debut, Khosla Ka Ghosla, won the ­National Film Award for Best Feature Film. His follow-up, 2008's Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! won the NFA for Most Popular film. Making Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is what Banerjee calls "a childhood dream", so we can ­expect it to be excellent.

3 The big picture

Banerjee hopes that this will be the first in a series of films based on the detective’s adventures – after all, he has 32 books to gather material from. If the film does indeed spawn a franchise, you’ll have to watch the first one anyway as an introduction to the character, so you might as well start now.

4 Rajput's dark side

From his 2013 big-screen debut in Kai Po Che to his most recent appearance in 2014's PK, ­Rajput has played sweet, sensitive ­characters with a touch of ­vulnerability. The versatile actor has a history of acting in theatre and on TV. However, he has so much more to offer. As Bakshy, he will get to showcase his ­darker, more intense, dramatic side.

5 That's a wrap

We will get to see the gorgeous Rajput clad in the traditional Bengali dhoti (a length of unstitched fabric worn by men that is wrapped around and knotted at the waist to cover the legs). The actor, who hails from Patna and was brought up in Delhi, had never worn a dhoti and admits he struggled with it at first. Ever the good sport, he took to wearing one at home to get the hang of wearing it properly on set.

6 Bengali noir

Set in 1940s Calcutta, the film will introduce a whole new audience to the world of Bengali Noir. Abundant in Bengali literature, and fairly well represented in Bengali films, the genre has never before been seen by Bollywood audiences.

7 All in the detail

Banerjee, who is known for paying extra attention to detail, spent a lot of time with historians and poring over old books to get the period look of the film just right. If the promotional art is anything to go by, it will be a visual treat.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy is out in cinemas today

artslife@thenational.ae