Millennium Post

It’s Byomkesh Bakshi vs Felu Mittir this Christmas!

It’s Byomkesh Bakshi vs Felu Mittir this Christmas!
This is in a sense the original detective story by Satyajit Ray…sporting a young, somewhat  innocent  Felu Mittir---without a revolver, without a business card. His Topshe is not quite an able assistant yet.

A travelogue that anyone from 8 to 80 can watch, Badshahi Angti  directed by Sandip Ray is very different in content and tenor from Anjan Dutt’s third Byomkesh flick, Byomkesh Phire Elo, both released on December 19, just before Christmas.  

In the starring role is Abir Chatterjee who plays Byomkesh as well as Feluda in these two flicks. Abir, who is seasoned from his two previous Byomkesh roles, has obviously matured in this film. Says Dutt of his hero, “Byomkesh is different from any other detective in the world.  He is not like Sherlock Holmes. He does not smell perfume or tobacco when he enters a room. He’s a domesticated family man but when he enters into the adult world of crime to solve a case, he acts on “pure” instinct”.

If Abir plays Byomkesh so well, how does he fits the bill as the iconic Feluda? Says Sandip Ray, who’s cast Abir for the first time as Feluda in Badshashi Angti, “Abir fits the description in the book Badshahi Angti penned by Satyajit Ray in 1969 quite well. He’s young, tall, and is a technically sound actor. He’s extremely disciplined as an actor, has a good screen presence and a loyal fan following. Also, if I’m thinking long term, Abir can pull off the next few Feluda films that I will be directing”.  

On facing competition from Byomkesh Phire Elo, Sandip Ray appeared rather poised. “I have stopped thinking about it(competition). Besides Byomkesh and Feluda are very different from each other as sleuths…Byomkesh is an adult and a satyanweshi…Feluda is a young smart sleuth who is travelling with his family and so this is very much a family flick. People from 8 to 80 years can enjoy Badshahi Angti which Satyajit Ray penned pretty early on in the Feluda series”, Ray told Millennium Post.

Dutt also feels that his film Byomkesh Phire Elo is much darker in tenor than Ray’s Badshahi Angti. “Feluda films are fun. Children love these travelogues where the detective catches the robbers and thieves(Dustulok)”. His Byomkesh, on the other hand seriously questions the morality and values of people with twisted minds, who can commit murder and incest at the drop of a hat.

Interestingly, Byomkesh Phire Elo  and Badshahi Angti got released on the same day---December 19. So should the audiences decide whether Abir is better as Feluda or Byomkesh?  “The two are so different  from one another. Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s iconic sleuth Byomkesh is older and definitely not the smart immensely well-read Feluda created by Satyajit Ray, though he is super intelligent in his own right. Both are Bengali to the core. It’s up to the audience to decide if they like one of them or both” said Amit Mukhopadhay, an avid detective movie fan.

In Byomkesh Phire Elo, Byomkesh is shown to be a middle-class family man whom audiences can relate to. “He has a child. He’s adjusting to this new role with his wife, Satyabati. They are bickering about family issues. But this is probably Abir’s best performance as Byomkesh”,  said actress Ushashie, who’s  also acted in all three Byomkesh films by Dutt so far.

Feluda in Badshahi Angti also is not about the seasoned sleuth one is used to see Soumitra Chatterjee play in Satyajit’s Feluda films. Abir is seen to be travelling with his family, and moves without a business card and a revolver. Producers are hoping that it is this rebooting of Bengal’s favourite sleuths that will see packed houses as festivities unfold in a cold December week.

Interestingly, both directors have decided adding more films to the genre. Ray and Dutt plan to make at least three more detective films each. However, lead actor Abir has already pulled out of Dutt’s Byomkesh series and will be starring in Sandip Ray’s Feluda films from now on. Dutt is already working on a new cast. But at the moment, it would be intriguing to watch whether Kolkata invites both sleuths to Christmas dinner or chooses to welcome one (the same person, really).
Nandini Guha

Nandini Guha

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