Jisshu as Byomkesh is far, far better than Uttam Kumar

Uttam Kumar & Jisshu. Mystery & mirth. t2 connects the dots

By Text: Arindam Chatterjee
  • Published 20.01.16
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Jisshu Sengupta as Byomkesh Bakshi in Anjan Dutt’s Chiriakhana

The climax of a whodunit is a sombre affair. Suspects squirm in their seats, avoid eye contact and bite their nails off as the sleuth goes over each piece of the puzzle, ties up loose ends, cracks the case and finally exposes the killer. A film shoot of a climax — in this case Anjan Dutt’s Chiriakhana — though has space for humour. A long day of work gave way to moments of mirth on Friday evening (Day Five of shoot). At 7.30pm, squeals of laughter from cast and crew balanced out the grave nature of the scene. Jisshu Sengupta as Byomkesh Bakshi teased senior actor Dulal Lahiri by calling out his name without adding ‘da’ a couple of times. Meanwhile, another actor (let’s keep him anonymous) confided in Jisshu that he has just torn his pyjamas. And a few minutes after explaining everything to the actors, Anjan stumped them all with — “Don’t follow my instructions. You guys are much better!” Some t2 snapshots from the sets...

Snapchat with Anjan

♦ I first saw Satyajit Ray’s Chiriakhana on television. I’m an avid mystery reader, and I found the film to be pretty interesting. I enjoyed it but I didn’t think it was one of Ray’s best films. Later on, when I started reading Sharadindu (Bandyopadhyay) seriously, I felt the film didn’t match up to the Byomkesh of the story. I found the basic essence of the story missing. As if the film was rewritten by Ray.

♦ Initially I was charmed by Uttam Kumar, but then I didn’t like him as Byomkesh. Somehow I felt he was too pat, too heroic… the vulnerability wasn’t there. 

♦ I am following the text, but altering it in my way. I’m sticking to some of the important plot lines in the story. 

♦ I am not doing Ray’s Chiriakhana, I am doing Sharadindubabu’s Chiriakhana. The Uttam Kumar-starrer was Ray’s version of Chiriakhana. If people take the story as the yardstick and then compare it with my film, then I have no issues. If people see Ray’s film and then mine, and make comparisons then it’ll be unfair. They have to read the story. My film will be much closer to the text. 

♦ My Byomkesh is entirely different from Uttam Kumar’s. In the climax of Ray’s Chiriakhana, Uttam Kumar was very flashy. Here Byomkesh is more cool. 

♦ In the beginning my Byomkesh is angry, agitated. Throughout the film he is in a mess. He is frustrated because he cannot catch the killer.  In the previous Byomkesh film, he (Jisshu) was hit on the head. And then he comes back with a bang. In Chiriakhana, Byomkesh is agitated because there are two murders and he can’t solve them. He doesn’t know what to do. He cries because the autistic Panu Gopal (played Subhra Sourav) is killed.... The vulnerability is important. He enters with a lot of confidence, he is the truth seeker. But halfway through the film, he loses it. In the end when he catches the killer he becomes very calm... because this is what he lives for — to expose the truth. In the classic structure the hero has to fall. And then he redeems himself.  

Jisshu and Saswata chill over a cuppa. Going into his second Byomkesh Bakshi film, Jisshu is more confident. “Of course there is pressure, probably more because the first was a hit and we have to carry the momentum forward. With Chiriakhana, what Anjanda has done is that he has stuck to the original story. I am trying my best. I am looking forward to each day of the shoot and trying to improve as Byomkesh. I am trying to find new things about him,” said Jisshu. 
For Saswata Chatterjee, it’s about discovering a new side of Anjan every day. “He is fascinating and we love him for that. He is so unpredictable. I remember during the shoot of Chalo Let’s Go, after a shot, Anjanda came up from behind and told me that I had done a wonderful job. Now I wasn’t even in that scene, so naturally I was a bit puzzled by the compliment. I pointed it out to him and in reply he told me that he was talking about last night’s scene!” smiled Chiriakhana’s Ajit. 

Pictures: Anindya Shankar Ray