Movie Review: Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole

Movie Review: Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole

June 3, 2024 Off By Noyon Jyoti Parasara

What is worse than not being popular? Being forgotten! That’s exactly where Dipak Chatterjee finds himself, relegated to a dusty shelf in a forgotten library, his stories long out of print. The space he once vied for has been taken over by the far more popular Feluda and Byomkesh Bakshi. Yet, his creator, Swapan Kumar, isn’t done yet. Swapan Kumar, who made a sensation with his hero Dipak in the pulpy “Adrishya Sanket” in 1953, has one last wish: to bring his creation back from the abyss of forgotten cultural history and give him the one thing any character would wish for – relevance and acceptance.

Of course, this is not going to be easy. To find success in his final adventure, Swapan Kumar must shed his own eccentricities and incorporate elements that are considered kosher in literary circles—elements that can provide Dipak the legitimacy he needs. Hence, a dash of Rabindra Sangeet and a sprinkle of historical analogy are woven into the new story.

Does this sound bizarre? Writer-director Debaloy Bhattacharya makes no bones about deliberately flirting with the bizarre while keeping the story grounded. For the Bengali viewer who understands the references and has read any of Dipak’s adventures, the bizarre feels quite at home. Debaloy’s success lies in making the story accessible even to non-Bengali viewers who might not have any context or the faintest idea that Dipak Chatterjee is a legitimate character, and Swapan Kumar is the pseudonym of Samarendranath Pandey. Pandey published over 20 novellas where his hero took on imaginative villains in what could be termed improbable or, in filmmaking terms, “convenient, laughable screenplays.”

Debaloy has his hands full. He is not just telling a detective story but also dealing with a multitude of ideas: a writer’s insecurities, writer’s block, and more. He packs all of this into a black comedy with the packaging of an old graphic novel. He pays tribute to literature itself and to how characters we once loved stay young even as we grow too old to find them relevant anymore. These characters continue to thrive in our nostalgia and, sometimes, in the conversations of new generations.

The director finds able support in his two lead protagonists: Paran Bandhopadhyay and Abir Chatterjee, playing Swapan Kumar and Dipak, respectively. Abir adds a level of believability to Dipak, making his agony relatable as he effortlessly shuffles between action and despair. The legendary Paran brings his inherent confidence to Swapan Kumar, making you root for him and his last attempt at writing something that will stand the test of time. Shruti Das shines with her share of one-liners, delivering them with perfect timing.

“Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole” is an ode to pulp fiction as a genre and should be enjoyed as such.

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