From recreating 1940s Calcutta in Mumbai to picturising a celebrated Bengali detective, Dibakar Banerjee is up for any challenge
Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is nearing release (April 13). But before that, the director and his team have decided to hold a special midnight screening for their friends and family. Banerjee is a man who is constantly redefining his own boundaries, after the struggle of releasing his debut film, Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006).In nine years, he has directed five feature films and contributed a short to Bombay Talkies. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, the period film set in 1940s Calcutta, stars Sushant Singh Rajput. It is an introduction to the celebrated Bengali detective immortalised in the novels of Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. More from the director:
What got you interested in filming these books?
I wanted to make Byomkesh right after Khosla, but I was not ready then. In terms of storytelling, I am trying to capture my feelings as a teenager reading a riveting novel, with my own interpretation of the character and of Calcutta the way it was in 1943. All period films are impressions, memories or interpretations of a bygone time. What I loved about the stories was their complete Indianness—you never feel like you are reading something inspired or copied.
How tough was it recreating that era?
Economic constraints and real location limitations necessitated recreating 1940s Calcutta on a set on a backlot in Mumbai. We were only able to shoot the rump end on actual locations in Kolkata. By using sets, VFX and real locations, we were able to recreate the illusion of 1943 Calcutta for people living in 2015. We also learnt that nothing sells reality more than a little dirt, smoke and dust.
Where do your ideas come from?
I can’t tell for sure. Either it’s too random a process or the process underlying it is so complex and huge that it can only be figured out by a supercomputer! There are so many factoids that go into shaping your decision on the film you are going to make that you cannot pinpoint it.
How do you unwind?
I try to be with family. I don’t get too much time with them. Beyond that, unwinding is reading a book, listening to music or travelling. I also unwind when I sketch. An alternative career option was to be an illustrator. I also like staring into empty space – nothing unwinds you quite like that.
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is scheduled to release today.