Originally written in Bengali, the stories/novels of Byomkesh were published in the form of a collection titled ‘Byomkesh Samagra’ in 1995. Most of these stories have been translated into English recently. The author’s sudden demise left the last story ‘Bishupal Badh’ in the Byomkesh series incomplete.
About the detective –
Byomkesh was introduced to the literary world as a private investigator on a mission to bust a drug racquet in colonial India. He appeared in disguise under the pseudo-name of Atul Chandra Sen in the novel ‘Satyaneshwi’. The plot was set in 1924-25. This is where he is shown to meet his future housemate, friend, and novelist, Ajit who eventually decides to pen down Byomkesh’s cases in the form of stories. This dhoti-kurta clad resident of Harrison road in Kolkata has his man Friday named Putiram and abhors the term private investigator or detective. Instead, he prefers to call himself as Satyanweshi (the one in search of the truth). Byomkesh belongs to that rare breed of detectives in literature who gets married and starts a family. He meets his future wife Satyaboti during one of the investigations where her brother is considered a suspect. Eventually, they get married and have a kid who’s known to the world as Khokha.
The case of the Man Who Died Laughing (Vish Puri 2)
The case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri 3)
The case of the Love Commandoes (Vish Puri 4)
About the detective –
Vishwas Puri, more popular as the 51-year-old Vish Puri is the founder and managing director of Most Private Investigators Ltd. (that goes by the catchline ‘Confidentiality is my Watchword’). A detective based out of Defence colony, Delhi, this Punjabi loves food as much his curious cases. He is often found to devise ways to defy the family physician Dr. Mohan’s cautionary advice related to his high blood pressure and diabetes. His investigation methodology follows the age-old practices of observation and detection using disguise and undercover aliases. He has a unique and funny way of addressing his employees, relatives and close friends. He has a nickname for all like for instance his wife is called Rumpi, his driver, Handbrake; the lazy office-boy, Door Stop; his assistant – the one who takes time to flicker to life, Tubelight; the guy who was the first one to have a flush toilet at his home in his village, Flush and the Nepali woman employee, Facecream. The detective is also referred to as Chubby by his near ones though, for his employees, he prefers to be known as Boss only. A few more interesting characters in Hall’s books are the matriarch in Puri’s family, his mighty Mummyji; his secretary, Elizabeth Rani, and his archrival Hari Kumar.
Mehrunisa, created from the author’s research on the Mughal history and renaissance art is a Mughal scholar researching Indo-Persian linkages. Born to a Punjabi father (Harinder Singh Khosa -an undercover spy) and a Persian mother, her half Sikh-half muslim NRI status often evokes great curiosity among her countrymen. She often spends her time at the house of her Godfather, a highly reputed historian, the 70-year-old Professor Kaul in Delhi. It was while assisting Prof. Kaul for a project on the heritage monument Taj Mahal that Mehrunissa eventually discovers what the Taj Mahal is meant to depict. In the second book, The Hunt for Kohinoor, her journey becomes more personal as she chases a deadline of 96 hours while also encountering some startling discoveries from her past.
Mehrusina has become a much more relevant character in today’s world where communal agendas seem to erode humanity every single day. Quoting the author from one of her interviews, “I wrote The Taj Conspiracy, Book 1 of the Mehrunisa trilogy, to rescue Taj Mahal from ignorant guides and benighted rumors and show it for what it really is — as the color white contains all colors within it, this monument of white comprises multiple, diverse threads of a pluralistic India. I created Mehrunisa as a human metaphor for the Taj — strong yet vulnerable and of mixed heritage.” The plot of the novels has a mix of history and politics set against the backdrop of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
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 Kellaand Joy Baba Felunathstarring 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 angticasting 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.
Over the past few months, most of my updates have been limited to awards and recognition. While the blog was making a way to quite a few esteemed lists and my writing got me my first award of this year, I was grappling with recurrent health issues rendering me incapable of maintaining a regular writing schedule. Not the one to give up on my dreams, I have finally decided to face one of the lowest phases of my life heads on and get back to blogging and writing September 1st onwards. Blogchatter is back with the fourth season of My Friend Alexa and it will be my second year of participation in this campaign.
What it is about –
I will be writing 2 posts every week on my blog (a total of 8 posts in the month) in September while reading a lot of my fellow bloggers every day. The Alexa rank of my blog which is the highest in the last one and a half year is expected to come down due to consistency in writing and also because of being read by others (the lower the rank, the better for the blog).
My experience from the campaign –
Last year was my maiden attempt at My friend Alexa. This campaign came at a time when I was consistently blogging every month and had a decent Alexa rank to begin with. Through this campaign, I wrote 12 posts in September and discovered a bunch of new bloggers. It helped me sustain my writing momentum, improve the quantitative parameters associated with my blog while also giving me an exposure to some prolific writers. I understood the need to write short posts (compared to some really long ones that I was writing until then) and helped me gain a grip on writing flash fiction.
Theme reveal –
In the last few months that I couldn’t write much, I finally utilized the time to catch up on my reading list. During the process, I discovered some brilliant Indian detective thrillers, a genre I enjoy reading the most. So, this September I intend to write about eight of my favorite Indian detectives from literature. To know which detective is the first one to make it to this list, please visit my blog to read the post on September 3rd. I hope to give you a great reading experience on my blog this September.
Thank you for reading, If you like my writing, please consider subscribing to my blog by clicking on the follow button at the bottom right end of the page.
July has been one of the toughest months for me this year. I was scheduled to start my MFA creative writing program and knew that the blog was going to see lesser posts than usual. As luck would have it, my health issues flared up badly by the end of June leaving me helpless and breathless. The last one was due to the severe nasal complications that I seemed to have developed recently. While it took a lot of determination to stay positive and stop myself from thinking about being productive, I need to mention that I also discovered some amazing authors and their books in the last three weeks. They kept me company as I tried to keep my hope alive about the effectiveness of medicines in helping me get back to a normal life.
And then something magical happened. On July 12th, I got a mail from Millennial Worx that my blog had made it to the top 20 shortlist of the Shining Bloggers Award and the final results of the top 10 winning Bloggers were scheduled for Sunday, July 21st. The most endearing aspect of this shortlist was that someone had nominated my blog for this award (anonymously) and I’m still trying to figure out who it was. But I feel immensely grateful that he/she considered me worth this nomination based on my work. On 21st July, the final list was and it gives me immense pleasure to inform you that soniasmusings.com won the award finishing at the third position. While I couldn’t be present in person to receive the trophy and certificate at Lucknow, the founders helped me connect to the audience through an audio visual live session.
Accolades and prestigious awards like this motivate me to write better and work harder. They serve as reminders of the reason I quit my corporate job to become a writer. Hence, I take this opportunity to thank all my readers, family members and friends who have been a constant source of support in my writing journey of 1 year 10 months. I am hoping to get back to creating some more beautiful pieces on this blog very soon.
If I had to define 2018 in a single sentence, I would say that it was a year of solopreneurship and mindful breaks. My writing found a new direction through my blog and book. And I discovered the beauty of listening to the needs of my mind and soul and nurturing them well through multiple breaks. 2019 is going to be my year of ‘A little more’ since I have consciously refrained from making any new resolutions this year. Instead, I’m going to focus on doing a little more of those things that have become an integral part of my existence – writing, spending time with my family and staying happy by choice.
I wish you all a very happy and vibrant New Year. May 2019 be the year of bringing out the best in ‘you’.