Supposedly a thriller, this film comes across more like a theatrical presentation — a dark indoor drama — be it the portrayal of characters, their mannerisms, dialogue delivery.
Based on the story, Chorabali, by Saradindu Bandopadhyay,
marks the end of Rituparno Ghosh's era of filmmaking. The plot follows the original storyline, with a few creative improvisations by the late filmmaker. Sujoy had said somewhere that Byomkesh here is as much Rituparno's as it is Saradindu's. And as the reputed truth-seeker, Sujoy — guided by Rituparno — tries to portray Byomkesh in a new light. Does it work? We are not so sure.
We see Himanshu (Indraneil Sengupta) inviting his old friend Byomkesh and also Ajit — Anindya slips into this Boswell's shoes easily — on a hunting expedition to Balwantpur. But the visitors realize that the invitation was just a pretext to explore an unsolved mystery. The duo puts in place a plan of action to uncover the many secrets of Balwantpur Rajbari.
The old-world charm has been dexterously recreated through set design, costumes, colour scheme and camerawork. The interplay of light and shade add to the suspense. As for the performances, Sujoy is okay for a debutant, though he gets a bit camera conscious in some scenes. He looks sharp and intelligent but the way his deduction abilities are showcased is not too impressive. Arpita, who makes a royal entry as Himangshu's wife, Aloka — a character introduced by Rituparno — reminds you at times of Meena Kumari in
Bibi Aur Ghulam
. A wife trapped in a marriage but bound by the duties of a Maharani, she finds solace in drinking and music. The budding friendship between Aloka and Ajit is sweet and subtle.
The song sung by Arpita (lyrics by Rituparno) and verses of Kalidas' Meghdootam rendered by Srijan Mukherjee stay with you. Editing by Arghyakamal Mitra is one of the highpoints of the fillm.
Indraneil does a good job as the new Maharaja. One tends to feel for the man, who's torn between love for his wife and responsibilities towards the state — his anguish that often transforms into anger and his dilemma over divulging the truth to his detective-friend seem convincing. Shibaji Bandopadhyay as the family doctor, Kaligati, is OTT throughout while Anandi Ghosh, as Kaligati's widowed daughter, Leela, is striking with her expressive eyes and body language.
However, the film is not fully devoid of glitches. For example, one wonders why would Himangshu, who's skilled in the art of aiming and shooting just by hearing a sound, go blindfold to shoot in a pitch dark jungle?
Supposedly a thriller, this film comes across more like a theatrical presentation — a dark indoor drama — be it the portrayal of characters, their mannerisms, dialogue delivery or its overall treatment. Maybe, the film's soul would shine through better if the maker had been there till the end to add finer touches. It's a question that shall remain unanswered.