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Cryptic clues Feluda (Barun Chanda, left) takes a back seat according to director writer Srijit Mukherjee (centre). The eternal observer Topshe (Parambrata Chatterjee, right) takes the centre stage
Cryptic clues Feluda (Barun Chanda, left) takes a back seat according to director writer Srijit Mukherjee (centre). The eternal observer Topshe (Parambrata Chatterjee, right) takes the centre stage

Bengal’s favourite detective, Feluda, makes his theatrical debut in Bangalore this weekend. SHAILAJA TRIPATHI TANEJA investigates

Srijit Mukherji will stage the Bengali play “Feluda Ferot” in the city and the occasion, the director believes, will be a reunion of Feluda buffs here. Created by Satyajit Ray, Feluda is Bengal’s favourite detective. “I grew up reading Feluda and then grew out of it. I rediscovered the stories when I was 27 and realised that Feluda was written for a certain age group. I wanted to make it timeless,”says Srijit who has directed and scripted the play.

Ray wrote 35 Feluda stories.Every year, a new Feluda adventure appeared in the Durgapuja edition of the Bengali periodical “Desh” and “Sandesh”. Ray turned a few Feluda stories like “Sonar Kella” and “Joi Baba Felunath” into movies in Bengali. His son, Sandeep Ray, also directed films featuring the detective.

This play is the second stage adaptation of Feluda.

The origin story

For those who came in late, Feluda’s real name is Prodosh Mitter. He lives in Ballygunj, Rajani Sen Road, Kolkata. Felu is his nickname. The suffix “da”, is used to refer to elder brother in Bengali.

Feluda is always accompanied by his cousin Topshe who faithfully records each adventure. Lalmohan Ganguly is Felu’s close friend and writes crime thrillers in Bengali. Maganlal Meghraj is a villainous character who appears in many Feluda stories.

In the play, Srijit has depicted the iconic detective as a 50 year-old. His cousin Topshe is 37 and getting married. In fact, the play opens with Topshe’s “Baashor-Ghor” a post-wedding ceremony where young members from both the sides and the newly-weds sing, dance and have fun through the night.

In the play, Srijit says: “Feluda is becoming more of an arm-chair detective and Topshe is stepping into his shoes. While Feluda is as witty, sharp and observant as ever, he has mellowed down.”

The play uses different elements like the Bengali folk traditions of Jaatra, Paala Gaana, projected video clippings, a sutradhar and contemporary dance movements. The production begins with a famous song dedicated to Feluda penned by Kabir Suman. Bangla music band “Nagorik” has composed three original tracks for the play. Srijit has shot a short film which will also be used in the play.

“The play works at various levels. On the one hand it is a murder mystery and on the other it takes a philosophical look at the eternal question of good and evil.”

The cast is impressive too. Barun Chanda, the ad man who appeared as the main lead in Satyajit Ray’s film “Seemabaddha”, will play Feluda. Chanda, who played a kinky professor with a fascination for porn in the recent Bengali hit “Chalo-Let’s go”, says: “I always wanted to do Feluda movies. In this play, Feluda is virtually retired. I hope to portray a toned down Feluda here.” The actor is also a writer and recently released his first thriller, “Saanper Jhaanpi”.

Topshe’s character is being assayed by Parambrata Chatterjee. The successful Bengali actor has played Topshe in two Feluda films directed by Sandeep Ray and is slated to reprise his role in the soon-to-be-released “Tintorettor Jishu”. “I am thinking of stopping playing Topshe. When I first played Topshe, I was 22. I am 27 now and want to do other roles. The film completely belongs to Feluda who is there in every frame. Topshe is eternal observer. I agreed to do this play was because it is freaky. Topshe is getting married which is impossible in a Feluda film. It gives me a break from hectic schedule in Kolkata,” says Param who has been seen in films like Sandeep Ray’s “Nishijapon”, Rituparno Ghosh’s “Dosar” and Anjan Dutt’s “The Bong Connection”

Srijit has a lot riding on this play. Srijit has put all his savings into this play happen. “I don’t see the play not working. There are lot of Bengalis in the city. Feluda is like demi-god. I am going all out and planning to take it to other cities as well,” says a hopeful Srijit.

“Feluda Ferot – The Return of Feluda” will be staged at Ranga Shankara on July 26 and July 27. For more details call 9880-536747)

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