Bollywood brings popular fictional detective Byomkesh Bakshy to the big screen in this delightful adaptation of the famous Bengali story. Set in Calcutta (now ‘Kolkata’) at the height of WWII in 1943, the city is being periodically bombed by Japanese fighter planes.
It is also the year that young Byomkesh (Sushant Singh Rajput) graduates from high school and lands his first case, almost by accident. His friend Ajit (Anand Tiwari) reveals that his dad, a chemical scientist, has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Bakshy goes to the boarding house where he vanished and interrogates the lodgers. Our inexperienced hero soon realises that he is caught up in a much wider web of intrigue involving the Japanese Army, a Chinese gang, shady characters from the emerging local film industry and possibly dirty politicians.
The film is a standard whodunit and this straightforward approach works to the film’s benefit, allowing for the growth of the impulsive and naïve young lad into a charismatic confident young man against the backdrop of a turbulent war torn ‘city of joy’. Rajput’s coming-of-age ‘Sherlock Holmes’-type imperfect character is credible and this makes us root for him. The real star of the proceedings however is the authentic recreation of a dangerous bygone violent era where no one appears to be what they seem. The final reveal is a genuine surprise, which makes this evocative film even more endearing.