In 2015 director Dibakar Banerjee took Bengali writer Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay‘s famous detective character, Byomkesh Bakshi, and made a Hindi film around it – Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!. The movie took several risks with respect to its music, treatment and style. Sadly, the film underperformed at the box office. Banerjee, who recently directed one section of Netflix’s anthology Lust Stories, is venturing into new commercial territories and will be helming the Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra-starrer Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar scheduled for release next year.
We had just one question for the Banerjee: What is your biggest learning for the underperformance of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!? Here’s what he had to say:
“My biggest learning is that the first pure whodunit – a comparatively new genre in India – for the Hindi mass audience really needs to be just a whodunit. When you merge a whodunit with a coming-of-age story, which is what we did with our Byomkesh, then you’re placing a little more load on the audience. Fine, you can live with that.
“But when you have a whodunit and a coming-of-age story and a treatment which kind of messes with your mind and takes its visual inspiration from graphic novels, then a certain part of the audience will love it, which is what has happened with Byomkesh. And a larger part of the audience will feel a little distanced from it because you’re merging stylistic devices that are not open to the mass Hindi film audience yet.
“The mass Hindi film audience hasn’t been through the merging of graphic novels, anachronistic music, of shooting period films as the present of the future and all those various experiments. That’s the main learning from the commercial underperformance of Byomkesh and I have no idea why almost every week or two I meet someone who asks me, so when is number two coming? Make of it what you will.”