Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Panorama

The Bengali Detective

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Kolkata is one of the largest megacities in the world. The population of this seething metropolitan region, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, exceeds 15 million. Faced with an infrastructure that is complex and diffuse to say the least, many people who live here have lost faith in the authorities and so here, as in other Indian states, a new profession that nonetheless has a long history has now come to the fore, namely that of the private detective.
For their documentary, the filmmakers spent two years following closely on the heels of one such private investigator: Rajesh Ji heads up a small team that is active throughout the country. An enthusiastic dancer in spite of his extra pounds, Rajesh Ji has never given up his secret dream of a career in dance. Indian song-and-dance music is writ large in his everyday life – and so too in this film during the course of which, Rajesh Ji has three cases to solve. The first involves the forging of coins, which is Asia’s fastest-growing offence; the second is a case of adultery and domestic violence and the third concerns the murder of three people – one of the most brutal that Kolkata has ever seen. During the course of their investigations the detectives come into contact with people from all walks of life and castes – from businesspeople, to craftspeople living in the slums, to wealthy wives.
Rajesh and his colleagues like to let off steam by dancing. They meet regularly once a week to rehearse for a television talent show. One day the phone does indeed ring: they have been selected to take part in a dance competition.

United Kingdom / USA / Austria 2010, 91 min

by

Phil Cox

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