04 December, 2020

Elementary, My Dear...

The loved, homegrown Bengali detective-now in English

Elementary, My Dear...
It was sometime in '94 that I first encountered Byomkesh Bakshi. No, I don't know Bangla, and had never heard of the Bengali mystery-writer of the early part of the century named Saradindu Bandopadhyay-a widely read, much loved name in Bengal. In fact, even after I came across Byomkesh and became one of the many converts who, week after week, waited to see his searing intelligence at work, I never wondered about his author. And caught up in the discovery of the indigenous, home grown detective, I remained insensible to the fact that Byomkesh and his accomplice, Ajit, were not the Hindi speaking projections they'd perforce become on Doordarshan-translated beings for the Hindi speaking belt. I accepted the actor Rajat Kapoor-years before he became the Mahatma-as the Bengali Babu Byomkesh. After all, Punjabis have always made picture perfect Bengalis: in popular imagination all you need is an impeccable white kurta pajama, creased by a few words of a kitschy, bowdlerised Bengali for one to be translated into a bhadralok.

This picture imperfect, to quote from the title,...



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