The alphabet G gave me a tough time to find a word with relevance in my life. While there was the famous Gorumara National Park in Dooars known for its breeding population of rhinocerous, Gadiara – a favorite picnic and tourist spot in Howrah, Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen – the vintage fantasy adventure movie by Satyajit Ray and Gopal Bhar – the iconic court jester in medieval Bengal, this series would have remained incomplete without a dedicated post to one of the iconic characters in Bengali literature – the sleuths/detectives/private investigators referred to as Goyenda in colloquial bengali.
One of the most popular detectives in Bengali literature happens to be Pradosh Chandra Mitter aka Feluda – resident of 21 Rajani Sen Road, Ballygunje, Kolkata. Accompanied by his cousin Topse and friend Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu, this character created by Satyajit Ray is popular among young and adult audiences alike. The stories have been brought alive on-screen by Ray himself with Soumitra Chatterjee playing the role of Feluda. Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Abir Chatterjee and Parambrata Chattopadhyay have been seeing playing this role in movies/web series since then but Feluda to most bengalis will always mean Soumitro as etched in their memories by Ray.
Byomkesh Bakshy by Shardindu Bandopdhyay was more on the lines of seeking truth (Satyanweshi is what Byomkesh preferred). Along with his writer friend, they created stories that had layers much deeper than mere thrillers. Human characters have probably been best explored through Byomkesh series. While the legendary Uttam Kumar was the first to play this character on-screen in the movie adaptation of the story Chiriyakhana, Rajit Kapur took it to masses through the serial. Recently Abir Chattopdhayay and Jishu Sengupta have essayed this role in different movie adaptation of his stories.
Nihar Ranjan Gupta created the character of Kiriti Roy and Subroto. Kiriti was symbolized by his choice of a hat and habit of smoking pipes. He was also unique in being married to a lady named Krishna. Quite a few times his mannerism comes across as highly influenced by Sherlock Holmes. Recently Indraneil Sengupta brought alive this character on-screen.
Kakababu – Santu series by Sunil Gangopadhyay had an ex-employee of Archaeological survey of India – Raja Roy Chowdhury who had lost a leg while jumping off the clip and walked on crutches now playing the protagonist. Along with his nephew Sunanda Roy Chowdhury aka Santu, they solve mysteries through their expeditions. The first onscreen adaptation of this series happened years back in the form of a movie Sabuj Dwiper Raja. Director Srijit Mukherjee has given the stories a new identity with Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee playing the main character now.
Much before Feluda, Hemendra Kumar Roy had created the first ever detective combo of Jaynta-Manik who approached any case with their logical and scientific thinking.
Mitin Mashi by Suchitra Bhattacharya is one of the finest and most popular lady detectives. Pragyaparomita Mukherjee aka Mitin along with her niece Tupur crack cases through thorough investigation and logical thinking. She is supported by her husband Partha and son Boomboom in the process.
Arjun by Samaresh Majumdar is a young detective from Jalpaiguri who takes on solving crimes with the help of his mentor Amol Shome.
Shobor Dasgupta by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay is quite different from is counterparts. An inspector by profession, he is honest and blunt. Saswata Chatterjee (Bob Biswas of Kahani) has been making this character popular through his role as the protagonist on two movies based on Shobor.
Gogol by Samaresh Basu is a kid with immense curiosity. He gets into murky situations and emerges as a winner by using his intelligence. Two stories have already been adapted on-screen starring child artist Abhijit Ghosh. Gogol is a popular character among kids.
P.K.Basu by Narayan Sanyal is introduced in the Kanta series. A lawyer by profession, his stories are about finding criminals and punishing them for their act. The series is highly influenced by Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardener.
Cornel Niladri Sarkar by Syed Mustafa Siraj is a popular character specially among kids. He is a jovial ornithologist who collects butterflies and cracks tough cases as narrated by his lazy journalist friend Jayanta.
Pandob Goyenda by Sasthipada Chattopadhyay is about five friends – Bablu, Bhombol, Bilu, Bichchu , Bachchu and a dog named Ponchu and their adventures.
Gargi – a lady detective character created by Tapan Bandopadhyay might not have gained huge popularity but is one of the sharpest detectives in literature.
KiKiRa by Bimar Kar is an offbeat rustic character. Kinkar Kishore Ray aka KiKiRa claims to have been a magician who had to give up his profession due to sudden illness of the hands. Along with Tarapada and a young doctor Chandan, the trio successfully solves one case after another.
Deep kaku by Sukanta Gangopadhyay gained popularity through its publication in Anandamela Pujabarshiki magazine(annual magazine Anandamela that comes out before Durga Puja). Deep and his niece (not by blood) Jhinuk are a team that started from solving simple cases but got complicated with each story.
Akida by Anirban Basu is a lesser known detective in fiction who is also in solving crime.
The personal angle –
This picture barely covers one tenth of my collection of Bengali detective series. Growing up, I always dreamt of becoming the female counterpart of Feluda. Before Poirot and Holmes, Byomkesh and Kakababu occupied my world. And till date, any Mitin Mashi book can lift up my spirits however messy the situation might be. I attribute my love for reading fiction to these timeless classics in Bengali crime and thriller genre.
My son is nicknamed Gogol. While I have been influenced by the work of Nikolai Gogol – the Russian dramatist of Ukrainian origin along with the character of Gogol in Jhumpa Lahiri‘s novel The Namesake, the biggest reason can be traced out to my love for the young detective Gogol created by Samaresh Basu.