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Byomkesh Hatyamancha: Recreating early '70s Calcutta was not easy, says director Arindam Sil

Byomkesh Hatyamancha, starring Abir Chatterjee, Sohini Sarkar and Paoli Dam, will be released in theatres on August 11
Arindam Sil (in the middle) on the sets of Byomkesh Hatyamancha.
Arindam Sil (in the middle) on the sets of Byomkesh Hatyamancha.
Instagram/ @arindamsil

PTI   |   Calcutta   |   Published 22.07.22, 03:44 PM

Director Arindam Sil, whose new detective Bengali film Byomkesh Hatyamancha will be released next month, says it was not an easy task for him to recreate the early 70s look of erstwhile Calcutta during shoots, which got over in less than a month.

This is Sil’s fourth directorial on Byomkesh Bakshi, an iconic fictional sleuth, created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. The Bengali detective character describes himself as ‘Satyanweshi’ (truth-seeker) in the stories.

The movie, which was entirely filmed in the capital of West Bengal, is set in the turbulent Naxalite uprising of the 1970s and will be released in theatres on August 11.

Arindam, who had earlier directed Byomkesh Gotro, Har Har Byomkesh and Byomkesh Pawrbo said there was no compromise on his part to bring back that era when the city was shaken by the Naxalite movement.

The film is based on Bandyopadhyay’s incomplete novel Bishupal Bodh which was completed by Sil and Padmanabha Dasgupta, an actor in the Bengali film industry and a scriptwriter. The film focuses on a murder that happens on stage during a play which Byomkesh Bakshi had gone to watch.

“It is a complex and interesting tale of love, betrayal, murder, and infidelity. How Byomkesh, the archetypal Bengali and a razor-sharp sleuth, busts the case is the crux of the main story,” Arindam said.

The film will also depict how the Naxalite movement had triggered an all-pervasive impact in every sphere of society, including the world of theatre, the director said.

Arindam told PTI that he has recreated a scene of a crude bomb blast in the city, which witnessed tumultuous unrest during the Naxalite movement, and graffiti with the popular slogans of “Tomar naam, amar naam Vietnam” (Vietnam is the name of your country, my country), and “Bonduker nal khamotar utso" (power flows from the barrel of the gun).

The streets of the metropolis used to resound with such slogans as Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh had become a household name in the state for fighting the invading American troops during the Vietnam war.

The narrow alleys of north and central Kolkata sans the modern-day highrises and cable wires were captured to get a feel of the time. The politically surcharged milieu of the metropolis of the early 70s was recreated in the studio through wall writings.

“We wrapped up shoots within a month as there was not much time left. But we are happy with the results. My brief was to bring back the period look of the 70s, 1971 to be more precise. And all the minutest details were taken care of in the sets,” he said.

“Completing the fictional work while retaining the special characteristics and flavour of Byomkesh Bakshi was a challenge that both of us thoroughly enjoyed. We hope the audience will like the way we have handled the subject and carried the story forward,” he added.

Abir Chatterjee reprises the role of Byomkesh Bakshi while Sohini Sarkar essays the character of his wife Satyabati in the film. Suhotra Mukherjee is the new Ajit, Byomkesh’s loyal friend and companion. Paoli Dam also stars in a pivotal role. Percussionist Bickram Ghosh composed the music for the film. 

A number of films, television serials, and audio dramas had earlier been made based on the adventures of Byomkesh Bakshi.

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