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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Byomkesh review: A beautifully crafted series that stays true to the source material

Byomkesh, which stars Anirban Bhattacharya in the titular role, is a well-made web series. It doesn’t attempt to retell the stories and is very faithful to the books.

Written by Antara Chakraborthy | Chennai | Updated: January 29, 2020 11:03:48 am
Byomkesh Byomkesh is streaming on Hoichoi.

Byomkesh Bakshi, the fictional Indian detective or “truth-seeker” as he calls himself, was created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, and has charmed readers since 1931.

I grew up reading the stories of Byomkesh Bakshi and Feluda, so they are like a piece of my childhood I still hold onto. That’s why, when I came to know that there is a new adaptation of Byomkesh on the Bengali streaming platform Hoichoi, I wasted no time and got straight to binge-watching it. The latest and fifth season of the series was released on January 10 this year.

The series which stars Anirban Bhattacharya in the titular role is a well-made one. It doesn’t attempt to reinterpret the stories and is very faithful to the books. If you remember all your Byomkesh Bakshi stories, you might find it a tad predictable, but otherwise, it is quite engaging. I found the accompanying characters, especially Byomkesh’s friend and right-hand man Ajit Bandyopadhyay (played by Subrata Dutta) very endearing and charming. One of the things I enjoyed most in this series is the charm of 1930s Kolkata, which has been recreated so beautifully. The visual experience of this show takes me back to all the stories about a Kolkata I have only heard about but never seen. If I had to point out one flaw, it is that the seasons are woefully short.

Over the last couple of years, the popularity of Byomkesh has increased and reached a pan-India level. Bollywood actors Rajit Kapoor and more recently, Sushanth Singh Rajput have essayed the suave, cigarette-smoking sleuth on the small and big screen, respectively. In Bengali films, many legendary actors like Abir Chatterjee, Jisshu Sengupta and even superstar Uttam Kumar have brought Byomkesh to life. So, the charming detective’s shoes are not easy to fill. Anirban Bhattacharya holds fort and the performance is commendable, despite all the pressure.

In fact, in an interview with Film Companion, Anirban said, “When I was approached for the role, I was nervous. I kept wondering if there was anything new left to explore. From Uttam Kumar to Abir Chatterjee to Jisshu Sengupta, so many big stars have essayed the role. But that in itself is a challenge.”

If you love old-school detective stories, then Byomkesh is the show to watch. Don’t let the language barrier stop you as subtitles are available.

All five seasons of Byomkesh are streaming on Hoichoi.

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