A documentary on Satyajit Ray’s sleuth

Thespian Soumitra Chatterjee with director Sagnik Chatterjee.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Little did he know that the documentary he had embarked upon as a cinematic tribute to Satyajit Ray would require pledging of the family silver and through crowd funding. Director Sagnik Chatterjee’s Feluda : 50 Years of Ray’s Detective is now set to release this week after doing the festival circuit for a year.

Feluda, a fictional investigator who came to life through a story in a children’s magazine in 1965, turned 50 in 2016. While much has changed in the city of his birth, Feluda’s appeal has endured the passage of time, catching the fancy of readers within the State and beyond, with a young woman travelling from Pune to visit the fictional character’s action-sites.

The nearly two-hour documentary probes, documents and revisits the books and films woven around him. Above all, it seeks to celebrate the character whose films can still fill theatres. “The film is a journey undertaken in first person from a Feluda fan”, said Mr. Chatterjee, who assisted Ray’s son Sandip is directing the later Feluda movies.

Many felt that Feluda, also known as Prodosh Chandra Mitra, was born out of Ray’s interests in crime thrillers inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle... “that the character was fashioned after Ray himself.” However, while Ray’s novels (translated into Indian and foreign languages) were well read, it was the films which left a lasting imprint. Ray made only two Feluda films — Sonar Kella, set in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, and Joy Baba Felunath, set in Varanasi.

The documentary was shot in London, Jaisalmer, Varanasi, Mumbai and Pune, besides Kolkata.

The magic of Feluda is such that not only have three generations of actors (since Soumitra Chatterjee) faced the camera to enact the role, three generations of director — Satyajit ray, son Sandip and grandson Souryadip — were involved in the projects. Costumes have been done by Sandip Ray’s wife Lolita

Although the project was off to a good start with a producer, Mr. Chatterjee, an alumni of Pune's Symbiosis University, faced financial problem as the producer withdrew after initial involvement.

“I dug my heels in as I was in no mood to give up...”, he said, taking gold loans and scraping personal savings. Finally, crowd funding to the tune of ₹15.5 lakhs helped the ₹50 lakh project see the light of the day.

"Ray was my inspiration... if the maestro had to face financial difficulties even after the success of films like Pather Panchali and Goopy Gayen... I knew that I just had to follow his footprints and be resolute, “ he said.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 10:16:56 PM |

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