Feluda


Feluda
Created by
Satyajit Ray (1921-92)

PRADOSH CHANDRA MITTER, more commonly known as FELUDA is a thirty-something private eye created by the well known Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray. The character made his debut in 1965 in the popular Bengali children’s magazine Sandesh that Ray edited, beloved by both children and adults, appearing regularly in novellas and short stories until the author's death in the 1990s.  Usually, a Feluda story would appear in the special Puja (an Indian festival) edition of that magazine, or Desh a magazine published by the printing house for Ray’s novels and story collections.  Ray also wrote other stories for children.

Feluda is a private detective living at 27, Rajani Sen Road, a middle class suburb in Southern Calcutta.  Playing Watson to Feluda's Sherlock Holmes was his younger teenage cousin, Topshe, and the two were usually accompanied on their cases by their older friend, pulp writer Lalmohan Ganguli, who offered some comic relief, as well as occasional logistical support.  A nice post-modern touch was provided by references to Ganguli’s own detective creation, Prakhar Rudra, whose name phonetically resembled Feluda’s Bengali name.  Ganguli used his nom-de-plume ‘Jatayu’ (a mythical bird in the Indian epic, Ramayana) for his literary output.  His works would be very popular with the young children in Feluda’s stories, much to the latter’s disdain, which would sometimes find a release through cutting comments on various geographical or historical inaccuracies in Ganguli’s stories.  Rudra’s adventures would even shared the same alliterative titles in Bengali (eg. ‘Shaharay Shihoron’, or ‘Shivers In The Sahara’) as Feluda’s early stories.

Although the influenced of Doyle's Holmes is obvious, the stories were aimed at children, and therefore went easy on the sex (in fact, there were hardly any female characters other than aunts and grandmothers) and violence (usually the threat of his raised Colt revolver would disarm villains).

Nevertheless, Ray had a real knack for savvy and innovative plotting, which may explain why Feluda was adored, and his depictions of an ever-changing India offer an intriguing and heartfelt commentary on that country and virtually defined almost two generations of Bengalis.  The stories were written in easy to understand ‘spoken’ Bengali (as opposed to the more elaborate version of the ‘good’ Bengali literature), and crammed with knowledge, much of it courtesy Feluda himself and his paternal uncle Sidhu who had a habit of storing newspaper cuttings in scrapbooks. There is much speculation that Feluda’s character was modeled on Ray himself, as he shares Ray’s love for trivia, tall physique and even a tendency for smoking heavily (Feluda smokes the Charminar brand).  Ray, am accomplished graphic artist, designed the book jackets and provided the illustrations inside.

Feluda’s only principal villain would be the rich and crooked businessman Maganlal Meghraj, who has appeared in ‘Joy Baba Felunath’ and ‘Joto Kando Kathmandu’.

Other than being one of the most well-known Indian literary creations, the books are bloody good, and not to be missed. And for those whose Bengali isn't quite up to snuff, many of Feluda's books have also been translated into English and published by Penguin Books. As well, there have been features films (including two directed by Ray, as well as a couple directed by his son, Sandip Ray, himself a noted director), TV adaptations, radio shows and even a comic strip.  Ray’s directed feature Sonar Kella (1974), the first screen appearance of Feluda, is arguably the most popular Bengali children’s movie ever. 

SHORT STORIES

  • "Feludar Goendagiri" (1965, Sandesh; English title "Feluda’s Investigation")
  • "Bombaiyer Bombete" (Autumn 1976, Desh; English title "The Buccaneers of Bombay")
  • "Gosainpur Sargaram" (Autumn Special 1976, Sandesh; English title "The Mystery of the Walking Dead")
  • "Ebar Kando Kedarnathey" (1981; English title "Crime in Kedarnath")
  • "Napoleon er Chithhi" (1984; English title "Napoleon's Letter")
  • "Apsara Theatre er Mamla" (1987; English title "The Case of the Apsara Theatre")
  • "Bhuswarga Bhayankar" (1987; English title "Peril in Paradise")
  • "Golapi Mukta Rahashya" (1989; English title "The Mystery of the Pink Pearl") .. Buy this book
  • "London ey Feluda" (1989; English title "Feluda in London")
  • "Kailash Choudharyr Pathar" (English title "Kailash Chowdhury's Jewel")
  • "Ghurghutiyar Ghatana" (English title "The Locked Chest")
  • "Samaddarer Chabi" (English title "The Key")
  • "Sheyal Debota Rahasya" (English title "The Anubis Mystery")
  • "Ambar Sen Antardhyan Rahasya" (English title "The Disappearance of Ambar Sen")
  • "Jahangirer Swarnamudra" (English title "The Gold Coins of Jehangir")
  • "Golokdham Rahasya" (English title "Mystery at Golok Lodge")
  • "Bosepukure Khunkharapi" (English title "The Acharya Murder Case")
  • "Shakuntalar Kanthahar" (English title "Shakuntala's Necklace")
  • "Indrajal Rahasya" (English title "The Magical Mystery")
  • "Dr Munshir Diary" (English title "Dr Munshi's Diary"}

NOVELLAS

  • "Badshahi Angti" (1966; English title "The Emperor's Ring").. Buy this book
  • "Gangtokey Gandagol" (1970; English title "Trouble in Gangtok")
  • "Sonar Kella" (1970; English title "The Golden Fortress")
  • "Bakso Rahashya" (1972; English title "A Mysterious Case")
  • "Kailashey Kelenkari" (1973; English title "A Killer in Kailash")
  • "Royal Bengal Rahashya" (1974; English title "The Royal Bengal Mystery")
  • "Joi Baba Felunath" (1975; English title "The Mystery of the Elephant God").. Buy this book
  • "Gorosthaney Sabdhan" (1977; English title "Trouble in the Graveyard")
  • "Chhinnamastar Abhishap" (1978; English title "The Curse of the Goddess")
  • "Hatyapuri" (1979; English title "The House of Death")
  • "Jato Kando Kathmandutey" (1980; English title "The Criminals of Kathmandu")
  • "Tintorettor Jishu" (1982; English title "Tintoretto's Jesus")
  • "Darjeeling Jamjamat" (1986; English title "Danger in Darjeeling")
  • "Nayan Rahashya" (1990; English title "The Mystery of Nayan")
  • "Robertson er Ruby" (1992; English title "Robertson's Ruby")

COLLECTIONS

  • Feluda and Co. (1976)
  • Feluda One Feluda Two (1985)
  • Double Feluda (1989)Feluda One Feluda Two
  • Feluda Plus Feluda (1989)
  • Feluda's Last Case and Other Stories (1995).. Buy this book
  • The Complete Adventures of Feluda, Volume 1 (2000).. Buy this book
  • The Complete Adventurres of Feluda, Volume 2 (2005).. Buy this book

FILMS
The role of Feluda was originally played, in two Bengali films directed (as well as edited, scripted and scored) by Satyajit Ray himself, by Soumitra Chatterjee, who had starred in many of Ray’s other movies. Sabyasachi Chakraborty took over from Baksha Rahasya’(1996) onwards. Jatayu was played originally by Santosh Dutta, and Ray even drew the character in his stories based on Dutta.  Later, in Baksha Rahasya, Rabi Ghosh took over the role. Finally by Bibhu Bhattacharya after the death of Santosh Dutta.

  • SONAR KELLA
    (1974)
    Screenplay by Satyajit Ra
    Baased on his nove
    Diirected by Satyajit Ra
    Sttarring Soumitra Chatterjee as FELUD
    wWith Santosh Dutta as Jatay
    aand Siddhartha Chatterjee as Topsh
    Allso starring Santanu Bagch, Ajoy Banerjee, Haradhan Bannerjee, Kushal Chakravart, Bimal Chatterjee, Rekha Chatterjee, Siddharta Chatterjee, Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Ashok Mukherjee, Kamu Mukherjee, Shailen Mukherjee, Shiuli Mukherjee, Sunil Sarkar

  • JOI BABA FELUNATH
    (1978)
    Screenplay by Satyajit Ray
    Based on his novel
    Directed by Satyajit Ray
    Starring Soumitra Chatterjee as FELUDA
    With Santosh Dutta as Jatayu
    and Siddhartha Chatterjee as Topshe
    Also starring Haradhan Bannerjee, Biplab Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt, Kamu Mukherjee, Monu Mukherjee, Santosh Sinha

  • BOMBAIYER BOMBETE
    (2003)
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakraborty as FELUDA
    With Paramabrata as Topshe
    and Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu

  • KAILASHEY KELENKARI
    (2007)
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakraborty as FELUDA
    With Paramabrata as Topshe
    and Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu

  • TINTORETOR JISHU
    (2008, tentative)

  • GOROSTHANE SHABDHAN
    (2009, tentative)

TELEVISION

There have also been several hour long episodes made for Indian TV (part of the Hindi-language series ‘Satyajit Ray Presents’ directed by his son Sandip) featuring the adventures of Feluda. In these Shashi Kapoor played Feluda with Mohan Agashe as Jatayu.

  • SATYAJIT RAY PRESENTS
    Directed by Sandip Satyajit
    Starring Shashi Kapoor played FELUDA
    With Mohan Agashe as Jatayu
    . The role was also played, in several Bengal films, by Soumitra Chatterjee, who had earlier starred as Feluda in a couple of features back in the seventies, but he was evidently getting a little long in the tooth by then, so the majority of the Bengali telefilms featured younger actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty. Jatayu was played sometimes by Rabi Ghosh, sometimes by Anup Kumar and finally by Bibhu Bhattacharya after the death of Santosh Dutta

RADIO
Other than the BBC versions below, Ananda Publishers have also released an audio version of Baksho Rahasya ("The Suitcase Mystery"), the cover of which is pictured.. It stars the original cast from the first two films in the main roles, along with many other well-known actors from Bengali cinema.  According to the credits, Satyajit Ray directed the radio play, but no other details are provided (including the year of broadcast). From the cast details, it is estimated to be from the early 1980s.

  • THE GOLDEN FORTRESS
    (2007, BBC World Service)
    Original air date: February 10, 2007
    Starring Rahul Bose as FELUDA
    With Anupam Kher as Lalmohan

  • THE MYSTERY OF THE ELEPHANT GOD
    (2007, BBC World Service)
    Original air date: August 11, 2007
    Starring Rahul Bose as FELUDA
    With Anupam Kher as Lalmohan

COMIC STRIPS
Evidently the individual strips appeared in The Telegraph (Kolkata)., but they've also been collected in graphic novels which you can preview and buy here. Among the story arcs that have run so far are:

  • FELUDA
    Written by Subhadra Sengupta
    Art by Tapas Guha
    Among the story arcs that have run so far are:
  • "A Bagful of Mystery"
  • "Calamity in Kailash"
  • "Chaos in Kathmandu"

Respectfully submitted by Tipu Purkayastha, with additional legwork by Kevin Burton Smith.

About the illustration: Pictured at the top of the page are Feluda and his young cousin Topshe, as they appeared in their 1965 debut appearance, "Feludar Goendagiri." The original illustrations -- by Ray himself -- are what we all remember, and our image of Feluda will always be that.


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