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