Dibakar Banerjee; whose interesting oeuvre shows how he has tried reaching out to the audience both in form of the cinematic language and content has been out of sight post after his Box-office debacle in reimaging the Bengali detective. Yes, he made an excellent short in the much-hyped, Netflix-produced Lust Stories. Possibly just streaming things off after working with the team in Bombay Talkies, but he has certainly been out of the limelight. The good news is, Mr. Banerjee is back after reinventing himself.
6. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! | 2015 | Mystery Thriller
This slow-burning, stylish sleuth tale had something or the other happening in its every frame. It’s smart, dark, funny & stunning to look at. In Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, the characters were more unpredictable than the central mystery. They were not just two-faced a**holes but strangely insanity, vulnerability and selfishness overcame every single one of them.
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Shushant Singh Rajput’s towering performance as Bakshy, a rather outgoing detective who battles his eye-lashes and solves every step of the ladder with ease, helps the narrative which boasts a dark undertone that’s too grim at times.
5. Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar | 2021 | Crime Drama
Two unlikely people from diverse ends of the social strata in Delhi NCR are on the run. What makes us wonder is-was it necessary? As we meander through the misgivings of the duo, we understand how they have been placed at the receiving end of the dark, vengeful underbelly of the business world. The duo finds their way to Pithoragarh, from where they are seeking an escape to Nepal. This is where we witness how the stark contrast between the main characters becomes each other’s strength and their personal deliverance gradually becomes evident to the audience.
This Parineeti Chopra- Arjun Kapoor film is contrasting to any other that they have done together before but one can observe how they are struggling to break their molds. Where Arjun steps into a character for his sensibilities to come to the fore, it is Parineeti who soars higher than her ask. And that could possibly be attributed to the scope of the script. Despite a solid start, the film somehow flounders in the second half and closes with the audience asking for more. Even so, this has Dibakar Banerjee’s trademark storytelling with dark undertones to spotlight the editions of our society. For a brave attempt at telling this story by Varun Grover and Dibakar Banerjee, one can watch it for sure.
4. Love, Sex Aur Dhoka | 2010 | Anthology Drama
Dibakar’s experimental film, an anthology of honor killing, MMS scandal, and a sting operation, garnered critical acclaim. But the true quality of this movie was the use of various digital formats, including shooting it through a handy cam, a CCTV, a film camera, an underwater camera, and spy cameras.
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The highlight of this one was that it received polarizing views from viewers, mainly due to the portrayal of the urban youth and their unsettling behavior. Primarily the brilliance is attributed to Dibakar for his portrayal of the ‘voyeurism’ that the whole country inculpates in, in some of the other forms. The film further examines various convoluted behavior in a society like class divide, sex on exhibit, sexual exploitation, blackmail, harassment, and honor killing. In a way, this one is the most adventurous of Dibakar’s outings till now where he has let down his inhibitions and explored the psychology of the urban youth involved in such demeanor.
3. Khosla Ka Ghosla | 2006 | Social Drama
Dibakar Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla brought a new wave of low-budget comedy to Bollywood with a clean and simple narrative rooted in realism. The characters felt like among one of us facing issues we usually deal with.
It brought the land grabbing issue in Delhi to the surface. Land shark Kishan Khurana illegally overtakes K.K. Khosla’s plot of land was bought with the life’s saving. It’s all about how the Khosla family gets together to reclaim the land from right under Khurana’s nose. The story is wafer-thin without any dramatic moments to please the audience’s sensibility. But Khosla ka Ghosla works for weaving the oddball characters that breathe and feel like one of us in the well-written script having a strong comedic undertone to it.
2. Shanghai | 2012 | Political-Drama
In Dibakar Banerjee’s ‘Shanghai’, ‘Shanghai’ is a dream. A dream of a prosperous and developed city. The path in achieving the goal is paved through corruption, political influence, moral compromises, unethical practices, and difficult of all, mass dislocation.
Adapted from Vassilis Vassilikos’s politically relevant novel “Z”, Dibakar’s Shanghai keeps the Indian socio-political milieu intact and still channelizes the essence of the original. The film requires patience, as it never rushes to manufacture the drama. The absence of theatrics and nuanced detailing of the screenplay makes Shanghai a rare Indian political drama that would leave you thinking.
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1. Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye | 2008 | Comedy
Dibakar Banerjee’s second outing, after Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006), Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye, established that he was not just a one-film wonder. Though the movie was not a top grosser at that time, the viewers loved it. More so, it also won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film.
The story of a youngster who charms his way into robbing in several cities across the country was well developed. The characters were well etched too. Even though Paresh Rawal played three different characters, none of them felt overlapping the other. The other characters were also well-drawn. But the highlight still remained the way in which the protagonist, played by Abhay Deol, uses unique and innovative ways to steal from unsuspecting middle-class people. Not just that, it also depicts how he is duped as well, by one of his close aides. Dibakar’s screen translation of the misadventures of the real-life robber from Delhi smoothly made its way into people’s hearts through this film.