Kavita Barjatya’s Samrat and Co – definitely not Bollywood’s first detective hero!

Rajshri Productions latest character Samrat is being touted as Hindi cinema’s first detective hero. Cineswami tells you otherwise…

We received a communiqué from the Barjatyas – they of the Rajshri fame – claiming that their new production Samrat and Co is presenting Hindi cinema’s ‘first detective hero’. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Let us be the first to give producer Kavita Barjatya and director Kaushik Ghatak a quick history lesson.

The history of Hindi cinema is littered with examples of detective heroes and while we are by no means going to present you with an exhaustive laundry list, we would like to highlight a few. Pradeep Kumar starred in Shakti Samanta’s Detective (1958), Raj Kapoor was in Naresh Kumar’s Gopichand Jasoos (1982) and the same director had earlier made Do Jasoos (1975) with Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar. We’ll discount Abbas Mustan’s Race (2008) because while Anil Kapoor played a detective in it, it really wasn’t a detective movie, and their Baadshah (1999) with Shahrukh Khan for the same reason.

Emraan Hashmi’s detective in Anurag Basu’s Gangster (2006) was decent enough Abhay Deol’s in Navdeep Singh’s Manorama Six Feet Under (2007) and Akshaye Khanna’s in Abbas Mustan’s 36 China Town (2006). On the distaff side, Sushmita Sen in Robby Grewal’s Samay (2003) and Ava Mukherjee in Romilla Mukherjee’s Detective Naani (2009) were rightly not seen nor heard.

The best Hindi detective film is indubitably Raj Khosla’s C.I.D., starring the peerless Dev Anand. And it’s a shame that a wider audience didn’t get to see Rajat Kapoor’s Private Detective: Two Plus Two Plus One (1997). We could go on, but the point has been made.

The Barjatyas are planning to make Samrat a franchise, but this presumes that the first one in the series will be a hit, difficult to predict in this fickle market. Meanwhile, here’s what Ghatak has to say: “Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Feluda, Byomkesh Bakshi, etc were my best friends since childhood, of course, through their books… I have grown up with this genre. Their adventures always fascinated me…. For a very long time I wanted to create a detective in our very own Bollywood cinema…but in our own style which is apt for our entertainment – loving Hindi movie goers. Thanks to Kavitaji, with whom I have shared a long and wonderful working relationship, for understanding this new kind of cinema and making it happen.”

Let’s hope it works.