The government of Bengal asks Byomkesh Bakshi (Abir) to investigate reports about illegal arms circulating in the picturesque Dooars town of Santagola. The prime suspects are four affluent members of the town — Biswanath Mullick (Kaushik), Badrinath Das (Rajatava), Nafor Kundu (Subhasis) and Jamunadas Gangaram (Ashok Singh). But the plot thickens when village lad Amrito (Deboprasad) and quack, Sadananda Sur (Rudranil) are murdered.
Engaging. That’s the best way to sum up Arindam Sil’s second outing with Bengal’s favourite(?) sleuth. True, it’s a mite predictable, but the pure pleasure of watching the film more than makes up for that.
The visual orgasm begins as soon as the title credits start rolling. Name after name fade in and out of the screen as a drone camera follows a forlorn train line snaking through a dusk-shrouded forest. We then cut to the mentally imbalanced Amrito, who, while roaming the forest, witnesses a terrifying apparition — that of a horseman in black, riding an ebony stallion. And thus the seed of a mystery that’s going to baffle Byomkesh Bakshi for a good part of the film takes route. Of course, the visual treat continues.
Arindam takes Byomkesh’s swag a notch higher this time, with the sleuth slipping into a much more hands-on avatar. In fact, so contemporary is the film’s treatment that if we take away the vintage cars and the dhoti-kurtas, it can easily pass off as a modern-day thriller. However, that’s not the biggest strength of the film — the visual brilliance is, riding piggyback as it does on the natural beauty of the Dooars. Cinematographer Soumik Haldar has proven his mettle yet again.
But even the best visuals can’t save a film if it’s not anchored in a good script and great performances. And Byomkesh Pawrbo scores on both these counts as well. The storytelling is fluid and racy, as the sleuth goes digging for clues and blowing up clouds of smoke, trying to piece the puzzle together. And despite the lazy comfort oozing out of the Dooars lifestyle and landscape, the clock never stops till the end-credits start rolling. That, I would say, is the definition of being engaging.
As for performances, Abir plays the suave and swift sleuth perfectly, as Byomkesh goes through the film all guns firing — displaying aggression rarely associated with his genre of cerebral detectives. He also manages to tread the thin line between being larger than life and being believable quite deftly. Sohini and Ritwick (Ajit) play their supporting roles with elan. While Sohini does complete justice to her role of the perennially-waiting Satyabati, Ritwick is at his usual best as Ajit. Each and every actor passed the ‘screen’ test with flying colours and there’s not one cook who spoils the broth, though there are quite a few around.
The early post-Independence setting of the film has also been well established through the right props, costumes and even music. Though the two odd songs are nothing spectacular, the background score manages to keep up the tempo without being jarring. The much-touted mujra, however, fails to impress.
Whether you wait for the holidays to watch Byomkesh Pawrbo or squeeze it into your Sunday is your call. But watch it you must.