Byomkesh Bakshi (or Byomkesh Baksi) (Bengali: ব্যোমকেশ বক্সী) is a fictional detective in Bengali literature created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. He is one of the most successful detective characters in Bengali literature. Bandyopadhyay once said that these stories can be thought as and read as social novels only.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Personality and Traits
- 3 Methods of detection
- 4 Stories
- 5 Regular characters
- 6 English rendering of Byomkesh
- 7 Film Adaptations
- 8 Television Adaptations
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The advocate-turned author Bandyopadhyay was deeply influenced by Sherlock Holmes of Arthur Conan Doyle, Hercule Poirot of Agatha Christie and Father Brown of G.K.Chesterton as well as the "tales of ratiocination" involving C. Auguste Dupin produced by Edgar Allan Poe. He was, however, concerned with how the Indian and Bengali fictional detectives created between 1890 and 1930 had failed to exist as anything other than mere copies of the Western detectives. The stories of Dinendra Kumar Ray's Robert Blake, Panchkari Dey's Debendra Bijoy Mitra or Swapan Kumar's Deepak Chatterjee were almost always set in London or in a Kolkata which was identifiably the British metropolis.
Initially serialized in the literary magazine Basumati, the stories and novels were all eventually published in hardcover editions, the first being Byomkesher Diary. In all, Sharadindu wrote 33 stories featuring Byomkesh, one of which remained incomplete due to his death. At first, he wrote in Sadhu Bhasha, but later he preferred Chalit Bhasha while writing Byomkesh. Byomkesh is one of the most popular characters in Bengali literature, along with Feluda of Satyajit Ray, Kakababu of Sunil Gangopadhyay, Parashor Barma and Ghanada of Premendra Mitra and Tenida of Narayan Gangopadhyay.
Although the story Satyanweshi, in which Byomkesh and Ajit meet for the first time, is often the first story in most Byomkesh anthologies, the first Byomkesh story written was Pother Kanta in 1932, followed by Seemanto-Heera in the same year. Sharadindu started writing the stories regularly. By 1936 he had written ten stories, all of which were published by Calcutta publishers Gurudas Chatterjee and Sons in three collections. Sharadindu stopped writing Byomkesh stories for 15 years, during which time he lived and worked in Mumbai, writing screenplays for Bollywood films, including Durga, Kangan and Navjeevan (all 1939).
Upon returning to Calcutta in 1951, Sharadindu began writing Byomkesh stories again after friends asked why he had stopped and published Chitrochor in the same year. He wrote a further 21 stories, including Bishupal Bodh, left incomplete by his death in 1970.
Meeting with Ajit
Byomkesh meets Ajit for the first time in a mess in central Calcutta in the story Satyanweshi. He initially introduces himself as Atulchandra Mitra to prevent others from knowing his actual motives there. Through a series of complicated events, one of which resulted in him being arrested by the police on charge of murder, he ultimately unmasks the criminal. As a result, the mess members are forced to vacate the mess, while Byomkesh takes Ajit to his own mess at Harrison Road, where he entreats him to stay there with him, saying that after living with him for the last two weeks he would find it difficult to live alone. Ajit consents, and since then they live there along with their devoted servant Puntiram, until in Arthonamortham Byomkesh marries to Satyaboti who henceforth lives there too.
Not much is known about Byomkesh's background and early life. Ajit mentions in Adim Ripu that his father used to be a mathematics teacher in a local school, while his mother busied herself in reading scriptures. Both died of tuberculosis when he was very young. His relatives never cared to look after him, leaving him to fend for himself. He earned scholarships from universities which enabled him to complete his studies. In Durga Rahasya Byomkesh recounts that he was a student of Berhampore College in Bengal where he was taught by Eashan Chandra Majumder, a professor of history, whose mysterious death in an old fort in the Santhal Parganas in the same story leads Byomkesh to solve the mystery. Though his relatives are still living, Byomkesh isn't interested in keeping any contact with them.
Relationship with Ajit
Ajit narrates all but five of the thirty-three cases which feature Byomkesh. In all these stories he assists and accompanies Byomkesh in his escapades. Most of the stories are centered on Kolkata, except a few like in Byomkesh O Baroda, where they go to Munger in Bihar, or Amriter Mrityu, where they go to Baghmari. Byomkesh's opinion about Ajit's intelligence and acumen is somewhat underwhelming, in Durgo Rohosyo, when Ajit throws some intelligent light on the mystery, he is very surprised, which prompts him to concede "Can it be that at last you have really developed your faculties!" However, he lets Ajit try to solve the case in his lieu in Makorsar Ros, though admittedly it was more due to circumstances precluding him from engaging himself in the case than due to his trust in Ajit's abilities; he was busy solving another case concerning some large scale forgery of notes. Ajit however is unable to solve the case.
Occasionally Byomkesh assigns Ajit some role in solving the mystery: in Pother Kanta he lets Ajit go to New Market incognito to procure a letter from an unknown person, though later we find that he followed Ajit all the time. In Amriter Mrityu he asks Ajit to interrogate a suspect while he busied himself in some other affairs. In Shaila Rahasya, Byomkesh urges Ajit to follow-up a case till he himself arrives at the hideout of the criminals.
Personality and Traits
In Pother Kanta, Ajit writes that Byomkesh, for all his astuteness and intelligence, is a bit queer. For example, he opines that the most spectacular pieces of news in a newspaper lay hidden not under the headlines, but in the advertisements. Though Ajit refuses to buy this, and can't control an urge to chaff him too, it later turns out that what Byomkesh had told was true, at least for that story. Ajit also writes that the outer appearance of Byomkesh won't do much to suggest anything out of the ordinary, but if he is cornered, he comes out of his shell and then his words and actions become something to be reckoned with. He calls himself a ‘’Satyanweshi’’ (the ‘’truth-seeker’’), and dislikes it when people call him a detective, perhaps to avoid the negative connotations of professionalism likely to be associated with the term private detective. However Ajit insists that even though Byomkesh dislikes the moniker, he knows very well that he is indeed one.
He often quotes Tagore to explain a certain situation to Ajit; in the later stories we find that the nonsense poems of Abol Tabol by Sukumar Ray too had attracted his interest. He is an avid reader of Mahabharata which we discover in The Will That Vanished. He never discloses the actual specifics of an ongoing case to Ajit until the very end (Amriter Mrityu being one exception), but occasionally drops subtle hints, which however fail to satisfy the curiosity of the latter in most cases. Since Byomkesh isn't interested in cases involving petty thefts or murders as they don't provide much space to exercise his intelligence, most of the times he remains at home idling away his time in newspapers and his personal library. He ascribes this to brilliant criminals being few and far between. He often paces his room relentlessly while cogitating on a mystery, consuming endless number of cigarettes. He knows that sound contribution from the police is essential to solving any case, and hence maintains a cordial relation with most police officers. When this doesn't work out, for example in Arthonamortham, finding that the officer in charge is adverse to him, Byomkesh blandishes him to elicit a thorough description of the entire event.
Although he is supposed to determine the culprit and hand him (or her) to the police, Byomkesh refrains from doing so on more than one occasion. In Adim Ripu, he lets the murderer go scot-free, stating that even criminals have a right to freedom on the auspicious day of their nation's freedom (the timeline of the said story coincides with the last phase of Indian independence movement) and concluding that the knowledge of his parentage obviates having him to go through any further punishment. In Rokter Dag, he lets the murderer off on moral grounds, arguing that the act, while not acceptable in the eyes of the law, works for the greater good and hence he is worthy of pardon. He repeats this act in Hneyalir Chhondo and Achin Pakhi.
Methods of detection
In most of the stories, Byomkesh depends more on instinct and intuition when concrete proof is unavailable. Sharadindu never expresses it explicitly through Ajit; however in Seemanto-heera Sir Digindranarayan Roy mentions it while he pretends to make an analysis of Byomkesh's faculties from his appearance only. Ajit visibly is unable to agree with the fact that intuition can supplant material proof, though he acquiesces after Byomkesh does solve the case. In Bahnni-Patanga we see that Byomkesh is somewhat perplexed by the seemingly trivial fact that in a painting depicting Dushmanta stealing a glance at Shakuntala, the artist had chosen to paint the iris of the latter in blue. Based on this fact alone, he constructs the entire case, which we later we find to be accurate.
The following list is arranged in publishing chronology. In sequence of completion of writing No.1 was actually after No.3.
- Satyanweshi (সত্যান্বেষী)
- Pother Kanta (পথের কাঁটা)
- Seemonto-Heera (সীমন্ত হীরা)
- Makorshar Ros (মাকড়সার রস)
- Arthamanortham (অর্থমনর্থম)
- Chorabali (চোরাবালি)
- Agniban (অগ্নিবাণ)
- Uposonghar (উপসংহার)
- Raktomukhi Neela (রক্তমুখী নীলা)
- Byomkesh O Boroda (ব্যোমকেস ও বরদা)
- Chitrochor (চিত্রচোর)
- Durgo Rahosyo (দুর্গরহস্য)
- Chiriyakhana (চিড়িয়াখানা)
- Adim Ripu (আদিম রিপু)
- Banhi-Patanga (বহ্নি-পতঙ্গ)
- Rokter Dag (রক্তের দাগ)
- Monimondon (মণিমণ্ডন)
- Amriter Mrityu (অমৃতের মৃত্যু)
- Shailo Rahosyo (শৈল রহস্য)
- Achin Pakhi (অচিন পাখি)
- Kohen Kobi Kalidas (কহেন কবি কালিদাস)
- Adrishyo Trikon (অদৃশ্য ত্রিকোণ)
- Khunji Khunji Nari (খুঁজি খুঁজি নারি)
- Adwitiya (অদ্বিতীয়া)
- Mognomoinak (মগ্নমৈনাক)
- Dushtochokro (দুষ্টচক্র)
- Hneyalir Chhondo (হেঁয়ালির ছন্দ)
- Room Nombor 2 (রুম নম্বর ২)
- Chholonar Chhondo (ছলনার ছন্দ)
- Shojarur Kaantta (শজারুর কাঁটা)
- Benishonghar (বেণীসংহার)
- Lohar Biscuit (লোহার বিস্কুট)
- Bishupal Bodh (বিশুপাল বধ)
The last one, i.e., Bishupal Bodh is incomplete. Narayan Sanyal once wrote Bishupal Bodh: Uposonghar [বিশুপাল বধ: উপসংহার], which is basically a completion of this novel. Sanyal fulfilled some terms given by Pratul Chandra Gupta, who edited Bandyopadhyay's collected works. Samaresh Basu, as the editor of Mahanagar, a magazine, published it in a Puja issue.
Recurring characters in the Byomkesh series include:
- Ajit Bandyopadhyay [অজিত বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়]: Byomkesh's close friend and narrator of most of his stories.
- Satyaboti [সত্যবতী]: Byomkesh's wife. The two first meet in Arthomanortham.
- Khoka [খোকা]: Nicknames of Byomkesh's son. His original name is nowhere mentioned.
- Sukumar [সুকুমার]: Satyaboti's elder brother. Byomkesh saves him from a murder charge in Arthomanortham.
- Puntiram [পুঁটিরাম]: Home servant. He is seen in every story which takes place in Calcutta.
- Rakhal [রাখাল]: Policeman.
- AnukulBabu [অনুকূলবাবু]: He is first seen as doctor as well as the landlord in Satyanweshi, later he is found in Uposonghar.
- Tridibendra Narayan Roy [ত্রিদিবেন্দ্র নারায়ণ রায়]: Jamindar of a certain territory of North Bengal, seen in Seemonto-Heera & then in Chorabali.
- Ashwini Ghatak [অশ্বিনী ঘটক]: This doctor is found in Chitrochor & Durgo Rohosyo.
- Inspector Purandar Pandey [পুরন্দর পাণ্ডে]: Appears in Chitrachor, Durgarahasya and Bahnipatanga.
English rendering of Byomkesh
- Picture Imperfect and Other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries (Penguin Books)
- The Inquisitor
- The Gramophone Pin Mystery
- The Venom of the Tarantula
- Where There's Will
- Calamity Strikes
- An Encore for Byomkesh
- Picture Imperfect
- Byomkesh Bakshi Stories (Rupa & Co.)
- Raktomukhi Neela (The Deadly Diamond)
- Seemonto-Heera (The Hidden Heirloom)
- Achin Pakhi (The Avenger)
- Shaila Rahasya (The Phantom Client)
- Chholonar Chhondo (The Man In The Red Coat)
- Chorabali (Quick Sand)
- Room Nombor 2 (Room Number 2)
- The Menagerie and Other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries (Penguin Books)
- The Menagerie
- The Jewel Case
- The Will that Vanished
- The Quills of the Porcupine
- The Mystery of the Fortress & Other Stories (New Age Publishers)
- The invisible Triangle
- Iron Biscuits
- The Crooked Circle
- Thus Spoke Kavi Kalidasa
- The Mystery of the Fortress
- Puffin Classics : The Rhythm of Riddles : Three Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries (Penguin Books)
- The Rhythm of Riddles
- Byomkesh and Barada
- The Death of Amrito
- Chiriyakhana a.k.a. The Zoo (1967) directed by Satyajit Ray and produced by Harendranath Bhattacharjya of Star Productions was the first screen adaptation of the sleuth's cases. Uttam Kumar had played the role of Byomkesh Bakshi while Shailen Mukherjee played the character of Ajit. The film boasted an ensemble cast of contemporary actors. Uttam Kumar, playing Bakshi, and director Satyajit Ray won a National Award.
- Shajarur Kanta (1974) directed by actress-turned-director Manju Dey and produced by Star Productions was the second film of the Bakshi series. Satindra Bhattacharya replaced Uttam Kumar as Bakshi and Rajarshi Mukherjee played his role as Ajit.
- Magno Mainak (2009) directed by Swapan Ghosal and produced by New Wave Communications was the third film of the Bakshi series. Subhrajit Dutta acted as Bakshi while Shailen Mukherjee played his role as Ajit.
- Byomkesh Bakshi (2010) was the first installment of the Byomkesh film trilogy directed by singer-songwriter-actor-director Anjan Dutt and produced by R P Techvision Pvt Ltd. The film was released on 13 August 2010. This movie was scheduled be followed by the other two film-adaptations of Chitrochor and Kohen Kobi Kalidas.
- Abar Byomkesh (2012) was the second film adaption of the Byomkesh film trilogy . In the film, Abir Chatterjee plays Bakshi while Ushoshi Chakrabarty plays Satyboti. The character of Ajit is played by Saswata Chatterjee.
- Satyanweshi (2013) directed by National award winning director Late Rituporno Ghosh.It is adapted from the novel Chorabali, Sujoy Ghosh playing the lead Role.The Film released on 5 Sep 2013 several months after his Death,and Marked as his last Feature film.
- In the early 80s Kolkata Doordarshan produced several episodes of Byomkesh Bakshi where Ajoy Ganguly acted as Byomkesh.
- Byomkesh Bakshi (1993) directed by Basu Chatterjee was the critically acclaimed television adaptation of the series. Actor Rajit Kapur played the role of Byomkesh Bakshi, for which he was highly praised. Ajit was played by K.K. Raina and Satyaboti was played by Sukanya Kulkarni who was the first actress to play the character. The series had 33 episodes.
- Byomkesh Bakshi (2004) directed by Swapan Ghoshal was the second television adaptation of the series also aired on Doordarshan. Actor Sudip Mukherjee debuted with the role of Byomkesh Bakshi. Debdut Ghosh played the role of Ajit while Satyaboti was played by Maitreyi Mitra.
- Byomkesh (2007) was also directed by Swapan Ghosal, who collaborated with Tara Muzik (a private Bengali T. V. channel). Actor Saptarshi Roy has played Bakshi while Ajit and Satyaboti were played by two lesser-known actors.
Byomkesh Bakshi episodes (Hindi)
- Raaste ka kanta
- Seemant heera
- Makdi Ka Ras
- Reth ka daldal
- Lal neelam
- Tasveer Chor
- Kile ka Rahasya
- Chiriyaghar A
- Chiriyaghar B
- Aadim Shatru A
- Aadim Shatru B
- Aag Aur Patanga
- Vansh Ka Khoon
- Amrit Ki Maut
- Pahadi Rahasya
- Anjaan Khooni
- Kahin Kavi Kalidas
- Adrishya Trikon
- Wasiyat Ka Rahasya
- Balak Jasoos
- Paheli Gatha
- Kamra No 102
- Sahi Ka Kanta
- Veni Sanhar
- Lohe Ka Biscuit
- "Comparing Byomkesh Bakshi to Sherlock Holmes | Byomkesh.com – ব্যোমকেশ.কম". Byomkesh.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
- From the introduction of Kantay Kantay 1 by Sanyal himself.
- For a complete critical overview of the Byomkesh Bakshi stories, with special reference to their postcolonial aspects, see Pinaki Roy's The Manichean Investigators: A Postcolonial and Cultural Rereading of the Sherlock Holmes and Byomkesh Bakshi Stories, published by the New Delhi-based Sarup Book Publishers in 2008 (ISBN 978-81-7625-849-4).
- Byomekesh Bakshi at the Internet Movie Database
- Byomkesh Bakshi's All Ebooks