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[S] Satyajit Ray’s Sherlock Holmes – Feluda #AtoZchallenge


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During my teen reading years, Sherlock Holmes was a huge favourite of mine as his superb powers of deduction and analysis left no stone unturned.  When I started reading a few Indian authors, notable among them is Satyajit Ray – a Bengali writer and film maker among other things. He too was greatly impressed with Holmes and thus created a character loosely based on him. His detective series is popularly known as Feluda. I am hooked onto this detective for he is lovable, relatable and fond of drama.

Title: Feluda series

Author:  Satyajit Ray

Genre: Fiction

Publication: Penguin

Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) is a notable film maker, writer, graphic artist, music composer and a screenwriter who was born in Calcutta, West Bengal. He is said to be one of the greatest film makers of the 20th century. He created Feluda, inspired by Sherlock Holmes and the first story appeared in Sandesh which was a family run magazine. Like Charlie Chaplin, he too was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Oxford University.

Satyajit-Ray-Feluda-Sherlock-Holmes-Bengali-literature-#atozchallenge-books-TBR-author-genre-fiction

Synopsis:

Pradosh Chandra Mitter or Feluda ( in Bengali Dada is used to address older brother and since his pet name was Felu, he was soon being called Feluda) is described as slim, athletic, young man with a penchant for smoking Charminar cigarettes. He knows martial arts and starts his day early with some yoga practice. Feluda also loves to read a lot and keep himself updated on a variety of topics.

He has very keen powers of observations which together with his reasoning mind, make for a deadly combination. He soon begins to take on mysteries and solves them to keep his brains sharp.

The narrator of these stories is his younger cousin Tapesh R Mitter or Topshe as he is fondly called by Feluda. Though he is a school going boy, he assists Feluda to the best of his abilities by recording all of his cases in a diary.

Another interesting character in his stories is Lalmohan Ganguly who writes crime bestsellers under the pseudonym Jatayu. But he makes the most outrageous errors in his narratives when it comes to facts and other sundry details. He starts getting his manuscripts proof read by Feluda before submitting to his publishers. Some of the stories are set around movie adaptations of Jatayu’s novels with hilarious consequences. Lalmohan Babu is characterised by his huge gaffes and faux pax which make him a much comical character indeed.

“When I write an original story I write about people I know first-hand and situations I’m familiar with. I don’t write stories about the nineteenth century.” – Satyajit Ray

The backdrop of most stories is Bengal and some Indian cities but there are some set in Nepal and London too. The characters are most definitely Bengali and a lot of the Bengali culture is used to set up a scene or background of a story.

Most of the homes in the stories are set in British Raj period (post independence) as perceived from the furniture, architecture, lifestyle, etc. The tales are about current situations and people, at the time these were written. There is no long drawn history lesson or things of an era gone by in Satyajit Ray’s narratives.

“When a new character appears in your tale, you must describe his looks and clothes in some detail. If you don’t, your reader may imagine certain things on his own, which will probably not fit whatever you say later on.”
― Satyajit RayThe Complete Adventures of Feluda: Volume II

One gets to read about thugs in Benares, travelling circus, Theater set-ups (Rangmanch), many historical explorations of old temple sites and such, seas-side holidays, etc.

Feluda is very knowledgeable on a variety of subjects and is always reading up more. His deductions are pretty logical and smart; he is not outsmarted very often.He has great love for lore and food; often giving great tips on where to find both. Feluda is also a master of disguises, often fooling both Topshe and Jatayu with ease.

These two volumes encompass the complete set of Feluda stories to date and are a pretty easy read. The tongue-in-cheek humour is so Satyajit Ray while the narration is flawlessly smooth.

I am not going to put any spoilers here by detailing out any of the stories and leave you to discover this on your own. I am sure many of my Bong readers would be very familiar with this hero and will be able to add their own quip to my review.

Lasting impression on me:

I fell in love with Feluda after reading the first book of his antics as I couldnt imagine a more loveable detective ever in Literature. While Satyajit Ray did model him on the lines of Sherlock Holmes, I found him to be very modest and unassuming. (I think Holmes was a little arrogant and impatient as he was a know-it-all type of genius with very little patience.)

The settings of the stories is very relatable and though I havent ever visited Calcutta, Orissa, Darjeeling, Sunderbans, etc; the tales brought out the charm of each place in plenty for me. Also there is a freshness in the tales as they are set in the present time (when the author wrote them) and add to the romance of reading them.

My rating:

I think my Indian Sherlock Holmes surpasses the English one any day and give him a 5***** rating for that.

 

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P.S: 

I am on a no-book-buying pact as I am pretty much broke; not to mention that I am running out of space as well!! But incase anyone wants to trade their books or send me gifts, please do check out my Wishlist on Amazon & Want to read on Goodreads.


Happy break on Sunday folks! Catch you on Monday with some [T]ime Travel

For the uninitiated, AtoZ challenge is a blogging challenge wherein one has to write on every alphabet from A to Z and post on all days of April, except Sundays. Usually its better to devise a theme as it makes it easy to write the posts. Plus readers have a reason to stay hooked too.

The A to Z Challenge is created by  Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out
and co-hosted by

Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh

Jeremy Hawkins of Hollywood Nuts

Heather M. Gardner of  The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Zalka Csenge Virág of The Multicolored Diary

John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing

J Lenni Dorner of  Blog of J. Lenni Dorner

Some of my previous  posts you might be interested in catching up on

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29 thoughts on “[S] Satyajit Ray’s Sherlock Holmes – Feluda #AtoZchallenge

  1. I am dancing with joy on reading this because after a long time you have mentioned a book that I have already read. I have both Feluda books. However, you writing about them makes me want to pick them again, it’s been 10 years or so since I last read them. What amazing stories they have, I remember reading 10-15 at a go!

    1. Oh Anshu thats so so good to hear. I love Feluda and am overjoyed at finding a fellow enthusiast. Who is your fav character in these tales? Which one is your fav?

      1. oh that’s so difficult to answer – I like Feluda of course for he is the smart and suave hero. But I also like Topshe, because come on, which teenager wouldn’t envy his eventful life with his elder cousin. Then I like lalmohan babu for the humor he lends to the stories, I have always imagined him to be a caricatur-ish type of a person.

  2. I have read a couple of Satyajit Ray’s short stories but not this one. Feluda… a lovable detective!!.., I so want to read his story now! Thanks for yet another interesting recommendation, Shalini!

    1. I so wish you lived next door to me; you would get books to read while I would get some banana bread to eat 😉

    1. I know what you mean Deep- even I first read them a decade ago but then I got so hooked; I have so many books of his individual tales and then I stumbled onto these. Re-read them this winter.

  3. Thank you for sharing the Feluda Series. I look forward to checking it out. I also look forward to reading your post on Time Travel this coming Monday. Enjoy your Sunday off!

  4. Satyajit Ray is storehouse of talent, and you have done justice by writing such a beautiful article on beloved ‘Feluda.’

    Ray had written a script about a humanoid extra-terrestrial who befriends a young village boy named Haba. Some say that Spielberg stole this idea from Ray and created ET.

    ” Also there is a freshness in the tales as they are set in the present time (when the author wrote them) and add to the romance of reading them.” – So agree with this.

    Do stop by my #AtoZChallenge post for S and share your thoughts:
    https://lonelycanopyblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/salam-singh-ki-haveli-a-house-of-luxury-and-decadance/

    1. Thank you that felt good to hear; I didnt know this bit about his ET story – wow hollywood plagarises an Indian script – now thats something you dont hear often 😉

  5. Hari OM
    (Phew got here eventually… busy busy…) Feluda sounds like great fun – I can get from Amazon here… I love a good whodunnit! You are correct about Homes being arrogant, he most certainly was (is?). YAM xx

    1. Aha – I am glad to know I wasnt the only one who felt that about Holmes. Feluda is charming and loveable – these stories are written simply but with a lot of cool logic and deduction. I love re-reading them time and again.

    1. I hope you do Keith – for me the colloquial nuances made it a fun read plus he really is dynamic and loveable 🙂

  6. Though I havet read this book, Satyajit Ray has that inherent quality to write about characters fro our daily live. His writing has that human touch and thats why he is so well loved to this date.

  7. I haven’t read this. I was aware only about Byomkesh Bakshi as there was a Hindi movie adaptation of the same, starring Sushant Rajput. I haven’t read Sherlock Holmes either, yet. But i was seriously addicted to the TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It was just awesome. Mind boggling mind blowing.
    Would note this one. Haven’t read any of Satyajit Ray’s works … Haven’t read any Bengali story translated to english either. I am missing out on so much.

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