Chiriyakhana (The Zoo)

1967, India. 125 mins., B/W, In Bengali


Chiriyakhana is a minor ray film rarely seen outside Bengal. A whodunit, the story revolves around a private detective Byomkesh Bakshi (Uttam Kumar) solving two murders.

The action takes place in a colony outside Calcutta, set up for the benefit of outcasts by a retired judge, who is also director of the colony. He contacts detective Byomkesh to conduct an investigation. The director is soon assassinated. This is followed with murder of a deaf-mute witness.

As Byomkesh solves the murders, he tells his associates that he could solve the mystery because he trusts no one. That is absolutely no one except his pet snake.


Like Abhijan, Ray was forced by circumstances to direct this film. Some of his assistants were supposed to do the film, but they suddenly lost confidence and asked him to take it on. He had no input in the choice of the story and casting.

In an interview with Cineaste magazine, Ray described Chiriyakhana (The Zoo) as his most unsatisfying film. He said, “Chiriyakhana’s a whodunit, and whodunits just don’t make good films. I prefer the thriller form where you more or less know the villain from the beginning. The whodunit always has this ritual concluding scene where the detective goes into a rigmarole of how everything happened, and how he found the clues which led him to the criminal. It’s a form that doesn’t interest me very much”.


  • Best Direction, West Bengal Government, 1968


Producer:Star Productions (Harendranath Battacharya)
Screenplay & Direction:Satyajit Ray, based on the novel: Chiriyakhana by Saradindu Banerjee
Cinematography:Soumendu Roy
Editing:Dulal Dutta
Art Direction:Bansi Chandragupta
Sound:Nripen Pal, Atul Chatterjee, Sujit Sarkar
Music:Satyajit Ray


Byomkesh Bakshi:Uttam Kumar
Ajit:Sailen Mukherjee
Nisanath Sen:Susil Majumdar
Damyanti:Kanika Majumdar
Bijoy:Subhendu Chatterjee
Dr. Bhujangadhar Das:Syamal Ghosal
Nepal Gupta:Prasad Mukherjee
Mukul:Supira Roy
Nazarbibi:Subrata Chatterjee
Muskil Mia:Nripati Chatterjee
Banalakshmi:Gitali Roy
Byomkesh Bakshi (Uttam Kumar) with his snake
Byomkesh Bakshi (Uttam Kumar) with his snake
A still from Chiriyakhana
A still from Chiriyakhana

Chiriyakhana – Trailer