As I walked out of the hall, there were only two kinds of comments all around - "Why did they make it so complicated?" and "I dozed off for ten minutes". And I suddenly didn't feel guilty of nodding off somewhere in the middle of the first half. That's Dibaker's Byomkesh for you. Moody, atmospheric, stylish - and crushingly boring! And that is such a tragedy.
In creating a big canvas, the director lost track of small things. Terrific atmospherics don't automatically create intimacies. A thumping soundtrack doesn't eliminate intrinsic somnolence. And big nation-saving stories don't create big stories.
Dibakar seems so pleased with the budget he has got to recreate a truly beautiful period piece, that he forgot that there have to be characters in front of all the art direction who should be able to connect with the audience. And that's where all the Byomkesh films made in Bangla are far superior than this one - they connect, they hold one's attention, and they leave one rooting for the eponymous hero. Such complete satisfaction!
And the surprise is that in such a long movie, the characters are still so underwritten. Take Swastika's Angoori Devi. This beautiful actress is the femme fatale. Her body tells of many stories it knows, and her childlike voice anticipates the tragedy of misplaced trust. But with all her talent, her limpid eyes and slow seduction, Swastika can't transcend the limitations of her poorly etched character. Or the fact that, Satyavati doesn't exchange a single coy look with Byomkesh throughout the film, and in the end is proposed to. Lazy writing and absolute balderdash.
Strangely, it is the end when the film bursts into violent life. Ferocious, fabulously choreographed, and like a page out of an Antigone saga -craft at last seems to meet purpose. Indeed, the last ten minutes are almost like a different film. And the film this film should have been.