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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! - Barrie Pattison tracks down a new Bengali film at what once was Hoyts Paris

How’s this for the magic world of Show Business? I’d been wondering what had happened to the Bollywood theatre releases. Well I picked up a Hoyts Paris (except it isn’t Hoyts Paris anymore) leaflet and there was something called Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! listed with a few lines of synopsis and the times.

No ‘phone number listed for the theatre so I checked the papers and the web site but found no reference to the film.  I had to check  IMDB. To make sure I hadn’t imagined it.

Always a devoté of submerged releases,  I rolled up to the theatre on the last day and the only clue was the word “Detective” on the LED lights display. Using my Xmas cut price voucher, in I went to make up the audience to four.

Not great and not actually Bollywood, being a Bengali production, but a handsomely produced item with an interesting premise. A 1944 murder investigation by the young Sherlock Holmes-modeled detective gets mixed in with a master criminal, a fatale female film star (Swastika Mukherjee!), the Japanese invasion, the Independence Movement, the British police and Asian dope smugglers, all pivoting round a boarding house where the owner does as much deducting as the central character.

The effort put into staging WW2 Calcutta is comparable to the Anne Hui Golden Era. They even do Clint Eastwood’s Changeling thing of shooting a scene in a tram which travels a city block that you can see out the windows in the elaborate art department detail which is the film’s major asset. All this will be obliterated on Video.

With SBS running Woody Allen in their peak slots and the film societies going belly up, non Multiplex production is becoming more and more elusive at a time when, paradoxically, the range of material to be seen is greater than it ever was. 

I really don’t fancy the idea of film freaking reduced to something done by isolated individuals on a desk top.

16 April 2015


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