For shame, for shame. I have been so involved in learning my magazine’s website, battling my inner techno-phobe demon, that my blog has gone to dust. It wasn’t much to start with, yes, but the USP was some fair regularity of irreverent poppycock (that noone read) which help me keep some mild-salsa-sauce sense of self. I haven’t had that sense of self in over two weeks (but I have been spamming the magazine website—as per my appraisal meeting requirements—with numerous articles in my best writing-rendition of my excited-radio-voice). Today, I put finger to cursor with the pretext of elaborating on a film that got my juices flowing two Wednesday nights ago (which should’ve actually been penned down market-fresh that very Thursday morning), but that I can’t shake for the following reasons
1) For how I LOVE Dibakar Banerjee, that man is obviously dripping gold from his ex-ad-exec brain and I am standing there lapping it up like middle-class housewife with a barren jewellery box.
2) This antagonist. I can hand it to you in writing (hardy har) that he will stay with you.
3) The soundtrack. That I DID manage to prattle on about on said website, guising my vested interest under the one tag I need to write anything on the webzine; “It’s trending!”
4) Yes, it’s Guy Ritchie Holmes-ian. No, it’s not some outright copy. Yes, fine, the credits are an outright copy. No, I don’t give a shit.
5) Did anyone even KNOW Sushant Singh Rajput before this? Clearly, I have veiled myself in ignorance due to my irrevocable pledge of devotion to His Hairiness (Sir Arjun Kapoor) (and also, yes, Hello inner Delhi Garl)
But no, I do not wish for my blow-by-blow dissection of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy to occur in this bullet-point format. I am an ardent admirer of the long, rambling, run-on style and so to it I will adhere. And I will begin and end with The Villain.
Perhaps this is a good moment to pay homage to Cinema Sins and slap on the disclaimer: Spoiler Alert! (Duh)
The Villain, is someone who is played by a man that has sprung out of obscurity in a manner quite in keeping with the stylistic preferences of the Anurag Kashyap-Dibakar Banerjee cult of directors that are more inclined to pull random, fantastic actors out of oblivion and shock us with how phenomenal they can be (well, unlike the forthcoming Bombay Velvet, which ladles popular actors Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma into our laps instead of the breed of actors we’re used to from him; read, Satyadeep Menon and Radhika Apte)
So, out of nowhere comes one Neeraj Kabi, the man who begins as a homely caretaker, and grows into the kind of menacing druglord-gangster that’ll leave you with chills and queasy uncertainty. I loved him—the wild glint of his glasses, the mad, too-long, overbearing laughter that kept the audience in suspense for a fraction of a second longer than necessary, the unfettered unpredictability in his every movement—is he overcome with love? Homicidal? Who can tell!
I think it says enough for the careful crafting of his character—and I mean tailor-made sinister—that I plan to slice through all the uniqueness of this film right down to the bone that is Dr. Anukul Guha.
I will not talk about the cinematography (which seems to have taken a leaf out of The Dewarists in some of its close-ups—a technique that worked so much better here than it did there; though, really, this might just be bias because this one didn’t have Monica Dogra swanning around screen, driving me batty). I will no make no mention of the stunning Divya Menon as Satyawati, who brought back that earthen, raw sexuality that Lakshmi Menon used to be famous for—except swathed in basic cottons to downplay it just the right amount—for she must, of course, fit the bill of the Byomkesh’s wife-to-be). I will not talk (again) about the phenomenal soundtrack, about which those who know me know I’ve written about on my magazines portal (a small win, for me, with hopefully more to come).
No, I shan’t wax eloquent over the myriad elements that make this film a classic winner ala Dibakar Banerjee (yes, evidently I’m a fan). I want only to talk about him. I mean, look at this man.
|Dr, Anukul Guha—Caretaker by day, a cup of pure evil by night|
He is such a packet of comfortable-Uncle chips—in Bengali flavour. Replete with the fibre-spilling, old shawl and little-moon glasses, you are led in the way of true detective-mystery to believe he is the mastermind right from the start, only for the film to lurch you into realising that there’s a bigger game in play that he could not possibly be a part of. And then BOOM! What an idiot you were! It is the self-same khadi-puppet/freedom-fighting power-ranger that you had written off as too obvious!
And then, you find out why. It isn’t actually the why that gives you the chills about Anukul Guha. Or the details of how he pulled it off. It isn’t that he’s the least suspicious-looking drug overlord you’d come across and how his demon schemes are going to fuck the country over twentyfold more than you thought.
It’s that mad gleam in his eye.
The actor has caught onto something, a kind of crazy that can’t be bottled; and he’s spit it out onto the canvas of film so subtly, you can’t quite tell it’s happening. You just know that this man bothers you profoundly. You can’t bear to hear him laugh that taunting, resounding laugh any longer and yet your fearsome it’ll stop—because, god knows what will follow. You can’t handle him being on screen, because he is so cold and insane that he could do anything at all…including nothing, which will leave you just as dissatisfied. You know when he’s gone, order will be restored, and yet you love that uneasy chaos.
If you haven’t seen the film, I’m sorry for giving it away, but my description will hamper nothing in terms of your intake of this character. He cannot be sketched, only observed quietly, and fearfully, and you will hope so desperately that he dies and yet a lingering flicker of ‘but, also not’ will feed off the schaddenfreude coursing through your veins.
In the simplest of terms, and in the kind of brief story-summaries we send to our bosses:
Watch this film first and most for Dr. Anukul Guha.