Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Complete Adventures of Feluda (Volumes 1 & 2) - Satyajit Ray

I fell in love with Feluda the way I fell in love with The Five Find Outers or even Paddington, when he took it into his head to solve a mystery or two: completely and without reservation.

Feluda's real name is Pradosh C. Mitter, a private investigator, who, along with his cousin Topshe and crony Lalmohan Babu a.k.a Jatayu, the famous crime fiction writer, solves a number of mysteries and cases. The trio travel to places far and wide, from Gangtok to Darjeeling, Bombay to the Rajputana and bring to justice, hardened villains. Written by celebrated filmmaker Satyajit Ray, the first Feluda story appeared in the children's magazine Sandesh in 1965; in total Ray wrote thirty-five Feluda stories, all of which appear in chronological order in two volumes from Penguin.

This is my first brush with (translated) Bengali fiction and it has left me thirsting for more. Do not mistakenly suppose that these tomes are for children only. Feluda might employ simple means of deduction but his brilliance of mind a la Sherlock Holmes is a pleasure to read about. There is a simplicity in the narrative and a lack of gore that will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered why people in Sidney Sheldon novels must always meet such gruesome ends. Satyajit Ray's Feluda mysteries are a delight to people of all ages; the older generation might want to read of a simpler time when good always triumphed over evil in the books and with the minimum fuss possible, and people my own age or younger will delight in the fact that these stories will take them back to their Enid Blyton days and also make them wish to careen across a desert in Rajasthan in search of fugitives or visit an old patriarchal home deep in the Indian heartland in search of a precious heirloom gone missing, or solve a murder case in snowy Darjeeling.

Full credit goes to Gopa Majumdar whose translation has ensured that these stories will reach non Bengali speakers as well. Get yourself a copy, tuck into bed on a foggy night: you will still have those for winter is not over yet, and visit with Feluda, Topshe and Jatayu. They will take you on a merry ride and you will realise like I did, the potency of the simply written story. I would write in detail about the stories themselves but where is the fun in that? Find out for yourself!

Note - Anyone who can direct me to more translated Bengali works would find me a very grateful blogger :-)


Tanmoy said...

Hello Vaish

Glad that you enjoyed reading Feluda. I have read Gopa Mazumdar’s work (not the Feluda stories) and have liked her writing. You should try reading some of her other translations too.

I have always been a big admirer of Feluda. The most appealing thing about any Feluda story to me is the amount of information they contain about places, work of art, history, animal behaviour, snakes and lot of other things.

Hope you are doing well otherwise. Drop a line or two in my inbox so that I can write to you.

Take care

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Delighted that you have become a Feluda admirer, Vaishnavi. His appeal is indeed wide and lasting - I must have read every one of his books (in Bengali) half a dozen times at least. That said, reading it in translation means you are missing something of the original flavour, no matter how good a job Ms Mazumdar might have done. The best of the books was the very first, 'Badshahi Aangti' (The Royal Signet Ring). You should watch some of the movies, too, at least 'Sonar Kella' and 'Joy Baba Felunath', if you can lay your hands on subtitled versions.

Feluda's appeal is odd, though, because far more sophisticated stuff has been written by others. Bengali is particularly rich in crime fiction and science fiction. Saradindu Bandyopadhyay would be my first choice; his detective was called Byomkesh Bakshi. Look up for 'The Menagerie and other Byomkesh Bakshi myseteries'. Then there was the inimitable Ghona-da character created by Premendra Mitra; 'Mosquito and other Stories' was published by Penguin in 2004. Others might recommend the Kakababu series by Sunil Gangopadhyay, though I don't put them in the same league myself.

Do try out some of these, and let me know.

Pavi said...

Firstly, am SOOO happy to leave a comment on you blog after sooo long cos you're back to writing after biggg breakk !! and also love this post especially cos as you know, i love non-gory, non-gruesome, child-like anything! Felt like reading a blog of Tintin's adventures..sounds similar for a layman like me.. if so or much better, i wud borrow it sometime soon :) Keep writing.. wanna comment on there's a moshkeeto in my foog too :)

Unknown said...

Yep always great to dive into innocent times again when we had the luxury of playing detectives in neighbourhoods as kids. I'm sure these stories misty have reminded you of those good times again.
Great to you write again. looking forward to read more :)