Novels in the series –
Originally written in Bengali, the stories/novels of Byomkesh were published in the form of a collection titled ‘Byomkesh Samagra’ in 1995. Most of these stories have been translated into English recently. The author’s sudden demise left the last story ‘Bishupal Badh’ in the Byomkesh series incomplete.
About the detective –
Byomkesh was introduced to the literary world as a private investigator on a mission to bust a drug racquet in colonial India. He appeared in disguise under the pseudo-name of Atul Chandra Sen in the novel ‘Satyaneshwi’. The plot was set in 1924-25. This is where he is shown to meet his future housemate, friend, and novelist, Ajit who eventually decides to pen down Byomkesh’s cases in the form of stories. This dhoti-kurta clad resident of Harrison road in Kolkata has his man Friday named Putiram and abhors the term private investigator or detective. Instead, he prefers to call himself as Satyanweshi (the one in search of the truth). Byomkesh belongs to that rare breed of detectives in literature who gets married and starts a family. He meets his future wife Satyaboti during one of the investigations where her brother is considered a suspect. Eventually, they get married and have a kid who’s known to the world as Khokha.
The stories featuring Byomkesh Bakshi are not just another type of whodunit detective thrillers. There’s an under-current tension typical to the pre-independence era. As readers, we are exposed to the political, social and economic turbulence that hit Bengal during that phase. We see revolutionists as characters in a few novels and we also read about brilliant scientists figuring out innovative techniques to commit a crime. There’s a fine thread of human relationships that keep the stories relatable even today. There’s betrayal in friendship, a story of an unwed mother and instances of unapologetic extra-marital affairs leading to devastating climaxes but all of these are narrated in a non-judgmental tone. It is the variety of the premises based on a strong sense of justice of an upright family man that makes the stories of Byomkesh Bakshi relevant and appealing to all generations alike.
From books to screens –
The first and the most successful adaptation of the book was in the form of a TV series starring Rajit Kapoor as Byomkesh Bakshi, KK Raina as Ajit and Sukanya Kulkarni as Satyaboti. In the last few years, Byomkesh has been the most alluring and sought-after franchise in Bengali cinema. It started with director Anjan Dutt casting actor Abir Chatterjee as Byomkesh and Saswata Chatterjee as Ajit. Abir moved on to play the same role under the direction of Arindam Sil while Dutt chose to replace him by casting actor Jisshu Sengupta. The stories were also adapted as a Bengali TV serial a couple of years back and recently a web series was again released. Director Dibakar Mukherjee attempted to bring a fresh perspective to Byomkesh through his movie ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy’ starring Sushant Singh Rajput as the truth-seeker.
My bookish connection –
The second edition of Byomkesh Samagara released in 1996 and my parents gifted me this book after my tenth board results in 1997. I found the language a little difficult to comprehend and the stories seemed to be lacking in pace. It felt quite like a twisted storybook set in the historical premises. I didn’t start re-reading these stories until I came home during the Durga puja break two years later. Suddenly the novels felt alive and I discovered the layers of emotions, socio-economic plots, and political settings that were used to weave the novels. Saradindu Bandopdhayay, the master story-teller had managed to write thrillers intertwined with humor, romance, horror, and multiple other genres. I watched the original TV series (starring Rajit Kapoor) much later and found it to be the only one that could capture the essence of the characters well. No other adaptation has risen beyond the conventional and stereotypical detective story. But that is not what Byomkesh is about. If one needs to understand Byomkesh and his methodologies, the route is through continuous re-visits to the stories. Most of the time, I have finished the book with a perspective, much different from the previous one and that’s what always makes Byomkesh so layered and unique.
I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT –
On 13th Sep’17, I started soniasmusings.com as a birthday gift to my then about-to-turn 2-yr-old son. Today it has been 2 years of following my heart, trying to prove that passion can be turned into a profession, standing by what I strongly believe in and moments of self-doubts followed by determined comebacks. In a country like ours, writing is always considered as a hobby, never a career choice. I’m striving towards my aim to change this perception.
Heartfelt gratitude to you, my reader for agreeing to be a part of my journey. As part of the blog anniversary celebrations, I have planned a contest and giveaway, the nature of which will be revealed in the last post scheduled for ‘My friend Alexa’ this month. SUBSCRIBE to soniasmusings.com by clicking on the ‘follow’ link to stay updated with the details of this fun contest.
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