“Film” and “literature” these two terms are well known to all of us. In the 18th and 19th century literature played a significant role, during that period it was a popular form to express society and human behavior through a writer’s pen. But in the 20th-century Film became more popular, because when viewers watch a film its audio-visual experience helps them to connect the moment more closely. Films that are based on books make a clear sense to their audiences. When we talk about Bengali detectives, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay & Satyajit Ray these two names always stricken us because of their two legendary creations, ‘Byomkesh’ and ‘Feluda’.
Here I will discuss one of the famous film adaptations from Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s Byomkesh series “Chiriyakhana”( The Zoo). The director of the film “Chiriyakhana”( The Zoo) was Satyajit Ray. This complicated detective thriller was released on 29th September 1967. In this movie, we see Uttam Kumar a renowned actor played the role of Byomkesh.
The story in brief: The Zoo is not a zoo it is a nursery-cum-Dairy-cum- poultry farm. The story sets in Calcutta, Byomkesh and his partner Ajit were playing chess in their room. A new client came to visit Byomkesh. His name was Nishanath Sen, a retired judge. First, he gave a card to Byomkesh which contains his address, and he told that in Mohanpur, Golap Colony, he has a nursery and dairy farm. And also told about the inmates who live in his colony & work for the nursery as well as a farm. The strange thing was the men & the women who lived under Mr. Sen’s shelter were not normal people, some of them had some sort of physical deformation and some had a dark past. But, Mr. Sen came to him to get details about a Bengali song “Bhalobashar Tumi Ki Jano”.
Mr.Sen told him that this song was sung by a new actress Sunayana Devi in a Bengali film, the film worked well, but after that film, she was not found. And now Mr.Sen suspected that the actress is living in his colony under an Assumed Identity. And before leaving Byomkesh he told that for some days someone sending him some motor parts in his office. The very next morning Byomkesh & Ajit visited a man named Ramen Mallick “The Encyclopaedia of Cinema”. Ramen Mallick delivered the name of the film, “ The Poison Tree” & some details about Sunayana. Later Byomkesh and Ajit went to see a clip of the song.
After that day Byomkesh and his friend Ajit went out in the disguise of a Japanese to Golap Colony & visited all the suspicious characters, first he met Bijoy, Mr.Sen’s nephew, then his wife Damayanti, Nepal Gupta scientist and chemist, they met Banalakshmi Devi whose story was a sad one, Bijoy rescued Banalakshmi from a street-side, then, Bhujangadhar Babu a doctor who was derecognized for an illegal abortion & also a good musician, Byomkesh met others accordingly Brojodas, Mushkil Mia his wife Nazar Bibi, Panu Gopal, Rashiklal Babu & Mukul Nepal Gupta’s daughter.
Byomkesh took everyone’s photo. After some days Mr. Sen called Byomkesh to inform him something but during that call, he was murdered. Then Byomkesh started an investigation on the murder of Mr.Sen & how he is related to the song & the motor parts. Byomkesh started an investigation and solved this complicated case. He took everyone’s interview individually and solved the case very carefully. And at the end of the story, he revealed the name of the murderer Bhujangadhar and also the actress and singer’s name came out that Banalakshmi was both actress and singer as well as the wife of Bhujangadhar Babu.
And it also revealed that Damayanti Devi was not Mr.Sen’s wife. When Mr.Sen was doing his job as a judge and he gave the command to a criminal Lal Singh a motor mechanic to his death in court, but somehow Instead of hanging him, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, that Lal Singh’s wife came to Mr.Sen for help and Mr. Nishanath Sen gave her shelter as his wife. Therefore it was Lal Singh who came after his jail and was sending motor pts.
There are many adaptations are available in the market but this film has a separate fanbase.
1, The acting of Mahanayak Uttam Kumar was excellent.
2, Satyajit tried to make the movie simple and understandable with his simple language and the scenes.
3, Satyajit tries to clear why Nishanath was interested in Sunayana Devi which was never clear from the novel.
4, the theme of the film seemed much practical than the real story.
And last, of all, Satyajit Ray tried to make the film more practical than the real story.
In the film, we can see that there are many changes from the real story, first, in the opening scene, a skeleton is found in Byomkesh’s room, through the skeleton Satyajit tries to decorate a detective’s room attractive.
Secondly, the presence of a baby python is ironic, because in the real story there is no mention of anything like this.
Thirdly, Satyajit shows Byomkesh as a bachelor but in the real story, Satyabati and his son were in Darjiling for a summer vacation with her brother.
Then come to the next point, the use of guns, Sharadindu never used a gun for Byomkesh .
Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay sets Byomkesh Bakshi apart and attractive to his readers from any other Detective characters by the use of a special Bengali word in his name that, “Satyanweshi” means truth-Seeker. In the first story of the Byomkesh series, he called himself ‘satyanweshi’ and started his career as a Private investigator. His look, his style is quite simple like a Bangali Babu. In the story “Chiriyakhana” he tries to make it interesting but somehow those who does not read detective novels will find it more difficult to understand, and Satyajit Ray tries to make the adaptation simple to all the viewers, that is why he changed so many things and decorate Byomkesh room in his own way. This film won two national awards in 1968.
References: Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, Byomkesh Samagra – Chiriyakhana