Not many outside the Bengali diaspora know that the legendary Satyajit Ray was not only a master filmmaker but also a prolific writer who authored many best sellers in Bangla. His interest lay in Sci-fi and tales of supernatural and mysteries (E.T. was based on a script written by Ray). Among many of his creations was Feluda, the young detective from Calcutta who Ray created in 1965 for his children’s magazine – Sandesh. Since then, 35 of Feluda’s stories appeared in different magazines and acquired a cult following among children and adults alike. Today, there are generations of Bengalis for whom the stories of Feluda are not merely detective stories, but a nostalgic reminder of their own childhood. So here I am trying to write a review of The Complete Adventures of Feluda. Do not expect me to be unbiased, it is impossible for me in this case, I can just try to remain neutral.
Faluda (as Pradosh Mitter is called) lives with the family of Taposhi, his cousin (and Watson), at #27, Rajani Sen Road, Calcutta-29. Like 221, Baker Street, this also happens to be fictitious address as the Rajani Sen road ends at #26. Felu is very intelligent and has a panache for puzzle solving and logical reasoning. He is an avid reader with a good knowledge of varied subjects like physics, history, music, architecture. He is tall and athletic, plays football and knows martial arts. He even owns a Colt .32 revolver and is a sharpshooter. For smoking, he prefers just on the brand of cigarettes – Charminaar and prefers tea from the Makaibari Tea Estate. Such is the detail in characterization which Ray builds for his protagonist. And it is not evident just in the case of Feluda, but for other prominent characters like the bumbling writer Jatayu, Topashi, Sidhu Jayata (Feluda’s Mycroft) and villains like Maganlal Meghraj who have been built very solidly. So much so, that at the end of a few stories the reader will start feeling as if these characters are not from a story but neighbours next door.
All the stories are cases of suspense and mystery and like a master storyteller of this genre, the author manages to keep the reader guessing what the next page will bring; and often surprises him with sudden twists in the tale. The cases are very much like those of Arthur Conan Dyle and Agatha Christie and Feluda himself admits once that he is merely following the path shown by old masters like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. The mysteries touch varied topics such as science, history, metaphysics and even paranormal and the reader is given a crash course in these subjects unknowingly. The narration is racy, effortlessly smooth and witty. One may find lines like: “You are my nephew. Your name is Subodh. Your only aim in life is to keep your mouth shut.” The translation into English by Gopa Majumdar is of a first class and doesn’t let any dryness of a second language seep in.
One thing which I like most about Feluda that he is an outdoors detective. The stories are set in different places in India and abroad. As a result, you get to visit Rajasthan, Lucknow, Darjeeling, Sikkim and even Hongkong via a detailed description by the author. These stories are a traveller’s delight. Since many of the stories are set in Calcutta, the reader is able to get a beautiful guided tour of the city of joy.
Satyajit Ray was one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th Century and in Feluda, he tries to discover what he could have been if he were not a filmmaker. This detective has enthralled children in Bengal with his stories and films. His adventures are a fulfilling experience, read them for the child in you.
|Book:||The Complete Adventures of Feluda ( Volume I)|
|Number of Pages:||785|