2011 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE BENGALI DETECTIVE

Continuing the rundown of this year’s World Cinema Documentary Competition:
Philip Cox’s investigation of street-level crime and corruption in India, THE BENGALI DETECTIVE, a UK/Indian/US co-production.

Sundance Program Description:

In response to police corruption, the private detective business has become increasingly common in India. THE BENGALI DETECTIVE follows the life of detective Rajesh Ji, who, along with his ragtag team of assistants, investigates cases ranging from counterfeit hair products to a brutal triple murder. When Rajesh is not sleuthing, he has big dreams of competing on a televised national talent show, so he and his detective gang form a dance troupe—which must be seen to be believed—and rehearse for their big audition.

Set in chaotic Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, the film is shot with atmosphere and immediacy, complementing the mystery and suspense of the investigations. Director Philip Cox finds a riveting subject in Rajesh. He’s all at once a showman, a dedicated husband, and a humanitarian. THE BENGALI DETECTIVE is a layered, wildly entertaining film: a poignant profile of a delightful character, a gripping detective narrative, and a detailed look at the middle class in contemporary India.

Some Background:
Amongst London-based director Cox’s producers is veteran documentary filmmaker Annie Sundberg, who’s had multiple films screen at Sundance: JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK in 2010, THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK in 2007, and THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT in 2006.

Why You Should Watch:
There’s an appealing quality to the well-rounded Rajesh, whose scenes with his wife and son are especially affecting, and serve as an appropriate and needed contrast to the hectic pace of his cases at the Always Detective Agency. Cox trails Rajesh’s operatives so closely that the audience will feel that they’re part of the investigation themselves.

Screening Info:
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above. The film also has a website and Facebook page to keep interested audiences aware of upcoming screenings and other developments.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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