It stuns me to think of the sheer genius of some people. Everything they touch seem to turn to gold. One such man was Satyajit Ray. Writer, film-maker, illustrator, educator, critic - he was probably what marked the pinnacle of the Bengali genius and intellect. I have had the good fortune of being exposed to his works since I was a child. Nonsense limericks by his grandfather Upendrakishore Ray, articles by his father Sukumar Ray and movies by him.
This particular post is about, what I feel was the most creative and intelligent writing of our time. Ray’s own private investigator – an Arthur Conan Doyle inspiration – Feluda.
Feluda or Prodosh Chandra Mitra is a fictional private investigator starring in a series of Bengali novels and short stories written by Satyajit Ray. Narrated by Topshe, his cousin - something of a Watson to Feluda's Holmes, these stories were a blast of fresh air to the Bengali literary scenario.
Much like our much loved Sherlock, Feluda enjoys delivering classroom-like lectures and often uses his oratory skill at the climactic scenes. He is an early riser, smokes Charminars and is a connoisseur of delicious foods, popular music and movies, and books. The duo are often accompanied by Lalmohan Ganguly – a writer of crime thrillers under the pseudonym 'Jatayu', who more than once gets valuable education from Feluda – in addition to free proof reading services! The stories would be fairly complicated plots across the length and breadth of India where Feluda’s super sleuth skills would untangle a plot and brilliantly come together at the end in an unexpected twist. It is no surprise why most Bengali children and adults remember the thirty-five Feluda stories with extreme respect and nostalgia.
Like I’ve mentioned before, Satyajit Ray was a versatile genius. Along with being a great director and a writer, he used to make the illustrations and covers for his books, write his own screenplays, design the posters for his films, and above all was passionate about music. He directed the music in his own films – Feluda and others. The theme music he created continues to be used in the more recent movies directed by his son Sandip Ray.
For the past two weekends, I have been watching the Feluda movies in a marathon-style. Satyajit Ray’s stories, dialogues, music and aptitude leave us astounded. A must-read and must-watch for anyone who appreciates literature!