Byomkesh Bakshi is an Indian-Bengali fictional detective created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. Referring to himself as a “truth-seeker” in the stories, Bakshi is known for his proficiency with observation, logical reasoning, and forensic science which he uses to solve complicated cases, usually murders. The character has often been called the Indian version of Sherlock Holmes. Initially appearing in the 1932 story Satyanweshi, the character’s popularity immensely increased in Bengal and other parts of India. Though it gained pan-India popularity almost 6 decades later with a TV series on Doordarshan with Rajit Kapur portraying Byomkesh.
Both of Byomkesh’ names have since entered the Bengali language to describe someone who is both intelligent and observant. It is also used sarcastically to mean someone who states the obvious.
Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s most well known fictional character Byomkesh Bakshi first appeared as a character in the story Satyanweshi (The Inquisitor). The story is set in 1932 in the Chinabazar area of Kolkata where a ‘non-government detective’ Byomkesh Bakshi, owing to the permission from the police commissioner, starts living in a mess in that area under the pseudonym of Atul Chandra Niyogi to probe a series of murders.
Most of the stories are written from the point of view of Ajit Bandhopadhay, who meets Byomkesh in the mess at Chinabazar. It is Byomkesh who later requests Ajit to live with him at his three-story rented house at Harrison Road as his assistant and chronicler. The only other person in his household is his attendant Putiram.
In the beginning of the stories, Byomkesh Bakshi is described as “a man of twenty-three or twenty-four years of age who looked well educated.” Byomkesh is a Hindu and wears mostly a white shirt/kurta with a white dhoti, occasionally draping a shawl. He does not live in luxury but possess numerous books. He travels frequently, and does not own a gun and does not consider himself to be an “expensive helper”. His habits include smoking, and drinking lots of cups of tea with milk. He is fluent in Bengali, Hindi, and English.
Byomkesh does not like being called a detective, and thinks the word ‘investigator’ even worse. Thus he fashions a new name for himself which he inscribes on a brass plate in front of his house. The plaque read “Byomkesh Bakshi Satyanweshi” (The Inquisitor).