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|
One of my favourites.
Glad to hear that Raghav 🙂
Feluda has always been one of my best adventure characters for Read.The way you have written the review,seemingly says that the Book is a must read for we Fan Followers.
Yes, a must read for his fans and an oppurtunity for others to join the club 🙂
Great review, one that makes me want to read the book. Having grown up on Feluda, all efforts to introduce him to a new and larger audience excites me. It is sad that the site that you have linked to is not updated more frequently. You might also be aware of the attempts by a group of JU scholars to bring Sukumar Ray’s works, including the untranslatable Pagla Dashu and HJBRL to English readers.
Thanks for the update Shubhorup. I always feel that Feluda has the potential to reach out to more people than just the Bengalis or the lovers of Bengal. Yes, this was an attempt to do my bit to make a formal introduction of Feluda with the English speaking world. I wish they update that site more often. And thanks again for introducing me to HJBRL ! I never knew about it myself. I hope one english translation comes soon 🙂
I actually remember watching TV series Feluda and Party,Rajit Kapur played the title role…I think this was in doordarshan days? not sure though aboutt the Tv channel.
That was Byomkesh Bakshi, another classic 🙂
I own both the volumes of this book. It is a much read and much loved book and is on my list of books to never be lent out. Not even to my brothers. 🙂
Well if you lend them out, you may need to be a detective to bring them back 😛
Would be an interesting read. 🙂
It sure will be Saru 🙂
I hate to read translations. But would like to try Ray’s..!! 🙂
You will love it if there is a big eyed child within you. Gopa Majumdar has given us a very good standard of translation.