Byomkesh O Pinjrapol: “A masterclass in presentation, visual flair and extracting impactful performances but…”
Byomkesh O Pinjrapol
  • Release Date: – 07/04/2023
  • Platform: – Hoichoi
  • Cast: – Anirban Bhattacharya, Ridhima Ghosh, Anuska Chakraborty, Bhaswar Chatterjee, Durbar Sharma
  • Director: – Sudipto Roy

We are in the 8th season of Hoichoi’s Byomkesh Series and this is the first time that I am reviewing it even though I have been keenly following it and have thoroughly enjoyed watching it ever since it aired for the first time. The reason – Finally, I feel the series has reached a point and a level of execution that makes it a must-watch. However, it might not be as engrossing and entertaining for the ones who have read the story of Chiriyakhana already or seen any of the previous iterations of the same story. For me, the best-televised rendition of the series was in Basu Chatterjee’s masterful rendition of the story and the character using the least possible means at his disposal.  

In the Hoichoi Byomkesh series, there has been a constant urge to present the stories stylistically and add elements of the era and the time that the original stories were written and established. This has given the Hoichoi series a distinctive feel but the fact still remains that the stories are all too well known and for someone like me who has seen multiple renditions of the same story it will always be a challenge for the writer and directors to create presentations of Byomkesh stories that are intriguing and interesting enough to hold on to my attention. Byomkesh O Pinjrapol is one such great attempt and I will gleefully ponder upon the reasons why.

For those who haven’t read the original story by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay or seen any previous rendition of the story in film or television, the story of Chiriyakhana revolves around the patriarch of a colony, Mishanath Sen who contacts Byomkesh Bakshi (Anirban Bhattacharya) to investigate his colony and its assortment of dubious characters to find out who among them was trying to blackmail him.

Anirban Bhattacharya in and as Byomkesh

He, however, quickly changes his mind after Byomkesh and Ajith’s (Bhaswar Chatterjee) initial visit to his colony and requests them to lay off the case. Sadly, Mishanath dies soon after and his nephew, Bijoy (Soumik Mitra) contacts Byomkesh Bakshi to investigate the death and ascertain if it was natural or if there was some maleficence behind it. As Bakshi dwells deeper into the case, another life is lost and numerous dirty secrets about the members of the colony come to light forcing Bakshi to believe that Mishanath Sen was willfully murdered. What happens next is what the series is all about.

The first thing that I noticed about the series and loved about it was how much care and love went into envisioning and rendering every aspect of it. The opening credit sequence, the shots that are selected, the music that is played in the background and even the fonts that are used and the placement of the text and their respective animation tells you everything you need to know about the meticulous nature of the makers and how much care they evidently took in building the entire series. The makers don’t let you down as every aspect of the filmmaking feels rich, well-crafted, and executed with the best interest of the story and the proceedings in mind.

The mood of the series is built so wonderfully with its visuals, colour palate, background score and fantastic performances that I was in agreement with the series’s sensibility, mood and feeling. This is not the kind of series that gives you one surprise after another or moves at a breakneck speed. There is also a slight lack of investigative procedures. What you get here are proceedings that are slowed down purposefully to let you sink in the emotional cues that each of the characters is giving at critical junctures. The audiences must get these cues as they are of importance to how the narrative proceeds and also contributes to making the characters wholesome and effective and ultimately impactful. The mystery is ripe and interesting for the ones who do not know the story. For the ones who know the story well, the director and the writers take a fresh and immersive approach to the storytelling to keep them interested even though they don’t succeed completely.

Stills from the series

The next best thing about the series is its performance. Anirban Bhattacharya as Byomkesh is fantastic. He is getting so comfortable playing the character that he has now begun introducing subtle nuances to the character that further humanizes it and makes it that much more impactful. In this series, he is shown suffering from stomach upset from start to finish. His troubled bowel and the various symptoms that come with it are shown to impact his investigations and cast a shadow on his behaviour and mannerisms on more than one occasion.

Byomkesh is also shown as someone who misses a few beats of the investigation here and there and even doubts his own deduction skill on an occasion. He loses his temper with his best friend Ajith in a brutal fashion and abuses him. All these aspects of the character needed to be executed and realized through a nuanced performance that Anirban is able to successfully pull off. If his performance was not so life-like, these aspects would work to the detriment of the series.

Bhaswar Chatterjee as Ajith

Bhaswar Chatterjee as Ajith was the best Ajith that we have had in the Hoichoi Byomkesh series. He is mild-mannered, he is sweet, he is subtle, he is a charmer and he is vulnerable. He is the perfect foil to Anirban’s hyperintelligent and uncontrollably energetic Byomkesh. Durbar Sharma as Bhujanga is sufficiently creepy. Anuska Chakraborty as Bonolokkhi always gives you the vibes of being up to no good. The rest of the cast enact their respective parts with conviction and proficiency.   

Anuska Chakraborty as Bonolokkhi

The writer and director take a few departures from the conventional storytelling techniques that were adopted in the original story and its previous renditions. One of the most noticeable was the dropping of the final reveal moment in the films wherein we have witnessed Rajit Kapoor, Uttam Kumar and Jisshu Sengupta as Byomkesh making the entire colony sit and reveal the murderer with much drama and verbal download. In this iteration, Byomkesh takes the truth to the people individually making them understand that they had been discovered. His visits ultimately culminate in the all too well know ending of the story but have a somewhat different ring to it than the previous films.

In another departure from the previous films and series, some of the back stories of the different characters of the colony including the patriarch are revealed not through narrations or dialogue but through flashbacks that are shot in a 4:3 ratio and in sepia tone. While I liked this creative choice, it might not go down too well with some of the other Byomkesh purists.  

Stills from the series Byomkesh O Pinjrapol

If you know the story from any of the previous iterations of it, this will definitely be a lesser series for you as you will know what the proceedings were building up to and how it will ultimately culminate. Interestingly, even for the ones who will be walking into this story for the first time, the creative choices and approaches to different characters in the story could have been better. The series needed more investigative elements in the screenplay. How certain characters were approached and the amount of screen time that they were given signalled clearly that they were going to be more important to the story than some others. Some of these characters were laced with such a dark aura through their dialogues, mannerism, behaviours and the looks that they exchanged with other characters that it was clear what they were about to be. This was one aspect of the series that disappointed me.  

Byomkesh O Pinjrapol is more of an investigation into the human psyche, and behaviour and deep dive into their most basic instincts to discover their motives for committing murder. It does succeed in doing that but in its effort to concentrate on the humanity of the crime and the why of it, it does miss out on a lot of other different aspects that the previous renditions brought to the table. Thus, it has lesser to contend with but needs to get its audiences involved in the drama of the proceedings more than keeping them hooked with constant moments of thrill and twists in the narrative. While some might enjoy this temperamental nature of storytelling, many might not and shrug it off as utterly and unnecessarily artistic.

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The performances are top-notch. The making and other technical aspects of it are at par with the best in the country. The background score adds a lot to the narrative and even though it moves at a leisurely pace, I was so hooked on the interpersonal drama that it blazed past me. For me, this was the best-made and acted Byomkesh series from Hoichoi. There are 7 more seasons of the show on Hoichoi and each and every one of them is entertaining. I would recommend my readers to check out those seasons as well along with a large number of available Byomkesh films and the stunning Basu Chatterjee series that aired on Doordarshan in the 1990s and is now available on YouTube. I will probably have to write about that series someday soon.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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