A bomb is ticking away, and there is no chance that anybody can diffuse it in time. Two brave officers volunteer to take it out in a helicopter and let it blast over the sea, so that nobody will get hurt.
Now if you think I am talking about a Dan Brown novel, think again…
Oh well, I am one of the people who (try to) watch CID every week, without cracking a smile (or cracking the TV, whatever). Trying to figure out which story (or show) has influenced the episode is a real nice fun. But when the officers start brandishing their weapons (I know, wrong choice of words) on the street and start firing across Mumbai streets in the middle of afternoon, even I feel something is wrong. Incidentally, one of the recent episodes was copied almost completely from “Murder on the Links” (Of course, the copy was not complete as the victim/murderer’s wife was not shown to be bound by the assailants).
Given the current condition, I felt it was necessary to have a review of tradition of great detectives we have had in India. Let’s start with the most famous of them:
His Name: Byomkesh Bakshi
His Watson: Ajit, an aspiring writer
His Moriarty: —
This is the first name anybody thinks of when you think of “India” and “Detective” in the same sentence. Now, Byomkesh is not really a detective, but a “Satyanneshi” (Seeker of Truth). The combination of Rajit Kapoor and great stories made for a real entertainer. Of course, as the series was based on original stories, there were fixed number of episodes after which the series ended. The series was pretty faithful to the original story, apart from a few bits which really did not take away anything from the suspense.
For those of you who have not read or seen the stories, an aspiring writer Ajit takes up a room in a not so fashionable part of the city. There, he shares his room with a young man. There is a murder on their doorstep and in the next room. After the young man is suspected of committing the crime, he is revealed as a detective who is helping the police catch a drug racketeer. After catching the criminal, Ajit moves with Byomkesh to his house and joins in his adventures later.
Even though sometimes we can detect a small influence (not “influence”) from Sherlock or Poirot, the stories are completely Indian in every sense. The stories are mainly about crimes like murder, theft and other domestic problems. But, as Sherlock says, “…strangest and most unique things are very often connected not with the larger but with the smaller crimes…”, and the mysteries are not trivial. Of course, given that the stories take place in the pre-independence Calcutta, it would have been hard if not completely impossible for him to get involved in crimes of State Importance like Sherlock or Poirot does living in the capital. He does help police take on crimes of local importance like a drug racketeer, a (kind-of) serial killer etc. He also has run–ins with at least two ghosts that I know of.
Like most of mainstream detectives, Byomkesh is clever than people surrounding him. But unlike mainstream detectives, he is very human. Apart from his Sherlockian humour and a bit of secretive nature, he comes out as a pretty straightforward person. Unlike Watson, Ajit knows a lot about his plans after he joins the detective as a biographer and a friend (He even knows when Byomkesh is playing the dead). Also unlike most mainstream detectives (and I’m not talking about Paperback detectives who get a girl in the middle and at the end of every story), Byomkesh gets the girl at the end of one of its adventures and marries her.
The best part? Byomkesh Bakshi episodes are back on the air…
P.S. 1. All the reviews and comments are based on the english translations of the stories and the few episodes I have watched recently. Any Bengali speaking people who have read the original are requested to correct me wherever I am wrong.
2. Anybody who tells me where the title comes from, gets to choose what post comes next… Hint: “Bahut limited hai aap ka knowledge”
Quote of The Day:
“It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.”
– Sherlock Holmes (“The Red Headed League”)