Feluda aka Prodosh Chandra Mitra
Originally written in Bengali, a large number of Ray’s detective books have been translated to English and are available for purchase on various e-commerce platforms.
About the detective –
Prodosh Chandra Mitra or Prodosh C Mitter is a private investigator based out of 21, Rajani Sen Road, Kolkata. He is assisted by his cousin Tapesh Ranjan Mitra aka Topshe in all the cases. They befriend a writer Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu during their adventure in Jaipur (in the book Sonar Kella) and the trio remains inseparable until the last book.
It is believed that Ray was highly influenced by the writing style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous detective character Sherlock Holmes. In multiple instances, Feluda is heard calling Sherlock his ‘guru’. Topshe is similar to the character of Dr. Watson. Even the character of Sidhu Jetha is said to be inspired by Sherlock’s elder brother Mycroft Holmes. Feluda is 6ft 2inches, fond of exercise and is often choosy about the cases he accepts. He loves his pack of Charminar cigarettes, prefers to have his evening tea with a snack made from Bengal gram called dalmut and keeps a 0.32 colt revolver for security. Feluda manages to solve most of his cases through his analytical abilities using his brains that he refers to as magajashtra and thus the books rarely have unnecessary action-packed sequences. While most of his initial cases are set in Kolkata and other parts of Bengal, we see him move to Bombay in Bombaiyyer Bombete, Kashmir in Bhuswarga Bhayankar, Hong Kong in Tintorettor Jishu and London in Golapi Mukto rahasya. The climax in this series usually involved a scene where Feluda gathered all the characters and revealed the modus operandi and thoughts of the killer before revealing the identity of the antagonist.
From books to screens –
Two of the books had been adapted to Bengali movies by Ray himself. Sonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath starring the Bengali veteran actor Soumitro Chatterjee. His son, the renowned filmmaker, Sandip Ray directed a few more of his stories like Royal Bengal rahasya, Bombaiyyer Bombette starring Sabyasachi Chakroborty in the lead role. Recently, he adapted one of the earlier works of Ray titled Hirer angti casting actor Abir Chatterjee (who rose to fame portraying the character Byomkesh Bakshy in movies). Very recently a web series has also made. This goes to prove that the appeal of this sharp-minded detective is evergreen.
My bookish connection with Feluda –
I grew up in a family of Bibliophiles. My Maths Professor father had one exclusive bookshelf for his academic books and the second one was shared with my mother for Bengali literature classics and contemporary Bengali novels. I was in class four my parents gifted me the first-ever detective book of my life on my birthday – Gangtoke Gondogol.
The first time that I read this book, I found it to be too complicated for a ten-year-old. It involved concepts like planchette that was unrelatable to me at that point. But Baba started buying me more of Ray’s books and eventually the first Feluda book that I ended up reading and loving was Joto Kando Kathmandute. There has been no looking back ever since. My entire childhood has been focussed on collecting the complete set of all the detective Bengali novels I loved reading and books on Feluda happen to top that list.
With time, I realized the biggest appeal of Feluda was in the fact that the stories were loved by children and adults alike. Ray’s lucid portrayal of a young Bengali detective (still running 35) cracking cases through sheer intelligence and logic makes him a favorite of all generations. If you love the old world detective fiction with a good story and great illustrations, Ray’s Feluda is a series that I would strongly urge you to read.
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