Doordarshan Nostalgia: Byomkesh Bakshi

June 20, 2007

I was watching the second run of Karamchand on Sony a few weeks back, and started wondering about the other detective serials that we see. There is the strange CID, but my memories went back to that serial from long ago, Byomkesh Bakshi. It brought back a lot of nostalgia.

The year was 1993, and satellite channels were just picking up. Doordarshan was still watched by a number of people, and here comes this non-flashy detective serial, starring Rajit Kapur. The director was Basu Chaterjee, which was another plus point about the serial.

The series was based on a detective created in 1932, by the Bengali author Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. The detective was picturized in a film (Chiriyakhana or The Zoo) by Satyajit Ray, starring Uttam Kumar in 1967, and the movie is typically known as one of Satyajit Ray's not so good movies. And then came this series, and the series was what made the character of Byomkesh Bakshi famous.

The series is based on the character of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but not completely. The character has his own life and peculiarities, and is based in the social system of the time. The character like Sherlock does not work in the police, but otherwise does not make money from this hobby; he is not an expert in things such as footprints, cigar ash, finger prints, is not addicted to nicotine. He is however an expert thinker, keenly aware of things going on in an case and capable of doing the analytical analysis necessary for resolving a case.

The interesting thing about the series was the setting of Bengal of that time, where you don't have too many modern scientific DNA and other analysis, just the razor sharp thinking and quick analysis; and I really cottoned onto Rajit Kapur's acting (I also liked his role in the Aamir starred Ghulam), he played the part with perfection, and it is a shame that he is not seen more often in movies and TV (instead restricting himself to the stage).

So what was the series all about? Well, like a detective series, it was all about going-on's where the police was unable to resolve things, and Byomkesh declares himself to have the noble profession of being a truth seeker.

Byomkesh meets his lifelong friend Ajit in one of the episodes, and they start sharing a flat. They get many leads from the newspaper, including from the ads. In one of the episodes, Byomkesh meets the woman who goes on to become his wife.

Episodes of the serial can be watched at this website, or at YouTube.

Hi, I write about the entertainment market in India, concentrating on the Hindi language programmes on TV, and on the Indian movie market, Bollywood. I am also interested in research on Cancer (because of a friend), and try to keep on reading more on this.
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Doordarshan Nostalgia: Byomkesh Bakshi


Author: DeeptiA


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June 20, 2007
01:34 AM

wow you brought all those memories back!!! the best thing about this series was its simplicity and superb acting by Rajat Kapur. Even today the series would be better then any other detective series of current times!!! I and my frnds watched three-four episodes back to back, all were repeats for everyone but nobody was bored!!

About Rajat Kapur taking it to theater, I guess indian entertainment industry has its best actors mostly from theater, like Pankaj Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Anupam Kher, Naseerudin Shah etc.

Talking of old doordarshan serials, I don't that golden era would ever be back!! Thanx to Rajshri people atleast i can watch my favorite Surabhi and Malgudi days online!!

June 21, 2007
09:01 PM

Sorry to nitpick, but your article does come out just while I am taking break from my "Desi Detectives" series...

So to nitpick, what I wanted to tell you was that Byomkesh actually meets Ajit in the first story and later on Ajit writes the stories of his exploits a la Watson and Sherlock. Byomkesh invites Ajit to share his house. And the woman Byomkesh marries is named Satyaboti.

Anyways, nice article... and love Byomkesh Bakshi. Do read the books if you haven't read them.

June 28, 2007
08:54 AM

nice post,deepti ! rajit is not seen in films these days but is very much active in theatre..His one act play "Flowers" was staged at rangashankara(bangalore)last week

September 5, 2007
06:42 PM

Great post Deepti! Does anyone know if there is a list of all the Byomkesh Bakshi episodes? I would like to watch them all but the links you gave only have a select few of the episodes. Thanks!

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