Live chat: Celebrating 50 years of Feluda

Welcome to our live chat as we celebrate 50 years of Satyajit Ray's detective - Feluda. Our heavyweight panel include Sagnik Chatterjee, director of a documentary on the sleuth series; Indrani Dutta, our Kolkata-based Correspondent; Yasodhara Rakshit, Visiting Faculty at O.P Jindal Global University, Film Studies and Political Science; and Sapna Sarfare.

Sagnik Chatterjee: Thanks. Welcome Everyone.

Yasodhara Rakshit: Thank you! Hello, everyone!

The Hindu: Here's the one that everybody's been asking: Why does Feluda fascinate even today?

Dayakar : Why does no more movies attain Satyajit's movies status in Bengali now a days?

Sagnik Chatterjee: It fascinates because in last 50 years , Feluda's glory is untouchable & rising from 'popular' fictional character to a 'cult figure' today.

Yasodhara Rakshit: Feluda, for me, has served as an inner sanctum of interesting and quirky factoids, of fascinating individuals as antagonists and a journey to far-off locales without moving an inch from my reading space in the attic during my summer holidays.

Sagnik Chatterjee: Yes. very much. In Summer holidays & Durga Puja Holidays...

Yasodhara Rakshit: He endures as a the first "Bhadrolok" (Bengali gentleman) detective almost exclusively written for children and adolescents.

Sapna Sarfare: Very few characters and their stories test you and allow your minds to travel with it. Feluda has been that... probably very few characters which become an obsession

Guest: How is Feluda's appeal similar to or different from Byomkesh Bakshi's?

Yasodhara Rakshit : I think Byomkesh's stories were mired in more "adult-themed" arcs, like illicit sex, drugs and gory murder. Though as a character he is strikingly similar to Feluda (albeit with the exception that he is married), his stories are usually tinged with a social message. The presence of women as femme fatales or otherwise is also contrary to the world of Feluda, which was almost exclusively dominated by men.

Guest: Feluda was aimed at children. But has it really reached to audiences outside Bengal? If not, then what could be the reason?

Sapna Sarfare: For me, Feluda would be something who is very much the modern Indian young man. You place him anywhere and yet you never feel disconnected

Sagnik Chatterjee: If fact, Feluda made the path for children detective genre in Bengali language. Before that flavour crime fiction in Bengal, was purely of adults.

Sundari: Is there a reason why Feluda has been slow to penetrate the South of India? I know Satyajit Ray is a legend, but not a lot of people seem to know about Feluda here.

Sagnik Chatterjee: Southern part in the sense.. Which State..?

Yasodhara Rakshit : @Sundari: That might be true due to what Sapna just spoke about. Though it is a bit surprising, since Feluda has been published in about six regional languages, including Tamil.

Sagnik Chatterjee: @Sundari - One of the Feluda novels is set in Chennai as well. Perhaps during that time, they didn't speak much about it. From early 90's it started rolling , once the English translation was in the bookstores..

Sapna Sarfare: Byomkesh, i feel, still works as a loner. Feluda, i always felt, worked as a group in some way with Topshe and Jatayu. You find these two characters a bit independent with their tracks too... yes, Feluda does not reveal everything... yet i never felt he was really detached from the others.

Sagnik Chatterjee: Ray was always discussed more as filmmaker rather writer, illustrator. This film brings forward those interesting 7 important characters Ray's talent.

Rishita: Feluda being an all-time hero for people like us who have grown up reading and seeing him on-screen, is losing his charm in the movies that are being made on the stories lately.

Sapna Sarfare: Sagnik, it is true. I personally picked up a Feluda book due to Ray's name.

Guest: ”My connection with Felu babu is purely accidental. Being a Provasi Bengali and with no knowlege of the Bengali script, the English translation by Gopa Majumdar was my introduction to Feluda. I first read the stories when I was 24 and i had an immediate connection with the characters

Yasodhara Rakshit: @Sapna: I think the difference is also in the relationships with their assistants/ Sidekicks. I think only Byomkesh has more of an intellectually equal relationship with Ajit, unlike Feluda whose Topesh treats him with wide-eyed wonder, bordering on reverence.

Sagnik Chatterjee: @ Yashodhara Ji- Right. Feluda is a HERO for Topshe.

Yasodhara Rakshit: @Sagnik: Yes, the illustrations by Ray himself also served as a fantastic way to enter his world.

Indrani Dutta: Actually Feluda stories target audience is the teenager and hence there is a difference in approach with Byomkesh.. there is little violence in the stories.

Sapna Sarfare: @Yashodhara that might be right... Ajit was probably the better version of Dr Watson who i found rather boring. Topshe and Jatayu are two versions of Watson & Ajit in a way... intelligent and funny. Topshe was never shown silly, rather innocent.

The Hindu: One of readers asks: @Sagnik any new discoveries/perspectives you gained during the process?

Indrani dutta: One clarification Feluda is not 50.. the creation first in a children s magazine Sandesh was in 1965.. That is why we are mentioning the figure 50..

Sapna Sarfare : I guess the best part was that no body aged much... rather like Archie comics... in fact, one saw him hardly age... at least, I did not notice much.

Anasuya Basu: Ray, in fact, was quite amused when he was told many of the anglicised young girls of English medium schools had started reading Bengali story books after he wrote Feluda

Sagnik Chatterjee: But another important persona of Feluda is He is portrayed like a 'next door neighbor'. Very approachable for section of the society.

Sapna Sarfare: Byomkesh on the other hand was pure brains. ! Sagnik, that was indeed the best scene in the movie. the scenes with Biswasree Gunomoy Bagchi were terrific...

AS: Feluda stories in Bangla are fabulous and riveting! I grew up on a liberal dose of Feluda, Kakababu, Bymokesh, Kiriti, even Parashar Barma (I guess I have the name right). While Feluda more or less belongs to the genre that we now call 'young adult' in English, Kiriti and especially Byomkesh is tilted towards the adults (or college-goers in those days!). Kakababu stories by Sunil Ganguly had more adventure. Literature-wise, I would rate Byomkesh on a higher level than the rest. But, again, just my take! And, yes, Holmes reigns supreme; nobody, I repeat nobody, comes close :)

Rishita: Feluda being an all-time hero for people like us who have grown up reading and seeing him on-screen, is losing his charm in the movies that are being made on the stories lately. To understand the character and the nerve, "Joy Baba Felunath" and "Shonar Kella" are the best possible. Not only can we talk about the stories and characters. But Ray as a film-maker and director could bring out the best in the actors

Sapna Sarfare: I would also rate Poirot in this coz Feluda also used his little grey cells to the maximum.

Yasodhara Rakshit : @Rishita: I agree also because Soumitra Chatterjee as Feluda remains my absolute favourite!

Indrani Dutta: Sapna .. why dont you tell us how you came to Kolkata attarcted by the Feluda serties ?

Sagnik Chatterjee: @ Sapna - In Feluda novels , you'll find the interesting Greay characters as well . They are just splendid..

Monalisa: Is there a particular reason that the character is named "Feluda" ?

Indrani Dutta: Monalisa , Feluda is his pet name.. his name is Pradosh C Mitter.

Monalisa: Oh okay and the character became popular with the pet name. Cool! Yes Manik it is...very different from usual Bengali pet names :)

Indrani Dutta: Sapna. Why dont you tell us how you came to Kolkata attracted by the Feluda serties?

Sapna Sarfare: Yes... for me, Feluda happens to be an obession. Just on a 1 and 1/2 day trip to Kolkata, I visited the South Park Street Cemetery which was part of Gorosthaney Sabdhan - one of my favourite Feluda stories. After walking down Park Street, visiting the cemetery was like done some darshan.

AS : What do you have to say about the dearth of female characters, I am not talking about the protagonist but even side characters, in Feluda stories? I find that unique for a detective stories! Any specific reasons that Ray had?

Indrani Dutta: AS, that you can say was a hallmark of Ray movies for adolescents.. shorn of violence and sex and yet still they won hearts of old and young alike..

Yasodhara Rakshit: I remember feeling a little disappointed and desolate as well in my later years at the lack of any evolved female character. However, I think the atmosphere created by Ray was of a different order altogether. It would make Feluda a little awkward to be seen romancing anyone. There is a clinical, detached side of him which I would rather see intact.

Indrani Dutta: Sagnik is having trouble with connection.. please bear with us connectivity is slow in Kolkata which has just concluded a round of municipal polling

Yasodhara Rakshit : Sorry, everyone. was having trouble with my connection. Seems to be turning into a regular adda! Satyajit would be proud!

Sagnik Chatterjee : He was called 'Prasad' first by his parents. Later on , it was changed to Satyajit.

Sapna Sarfare: OMG, that would have been seriously funny to be honest. Pather Panchali directed by Prasad Ray... not the same

Sagnik Chatterjee: The name was changed in 1923 , during the ceremony where his final name was given. It was on 2nd May, his birthday.

Yasodhara Rakshit: Thanks for that little factoid, Sagnik! I agree, 'Prasad' does not carry the same weight as a 'Satyajit!'

Sapna Sarfare: It is quite interesting to see Ray direct films which are so starkly different from what he wrote especially Feluda stories... you feel they are two different Rays not connected... One presumes he wrote the Feluda stories just like he would want to live his life as a detective. To be honest, i never felt anything amiss in terms of lack of strong female characters. maybe one felt that he has Feluda - a strong character, Topshe & Jatayu quite unique and Maganlal Meghraj - his Moriarty

Sapna Sarfare: too many stong characters would have not worked from how i see

Indrani Dutta : And Sapna not to forget Sidhu Jyatha.. he would beat any search engine perhaps ?

Yasodhara Rakshit: I agree and one has to remember that not many of the detectives belonging to the literary canon even HAD a love interest, including Holmes. Irene Adler was an intellectual adversary, nothing more.

Sapna Sarfare: Yes of course.... he was his Mycroft... but unlike Mycroft, Sidhu jyatha was more like a uncle you always want to talk to. Mycroft was a bit aloof

Sagnik Chatterjee : Ray made Feluda a character who is always approachable by all sections of society. This was , perhaps , the reason for me to on this 'fictional character'. Ray was introduced to me as writer.. Like many others , i lived with him (I'm also living now..) in great comfort. This is a film I always wanted to do.. I've waiting with the idea since 2007.. no one came to support. At one point of time, I kept it aside & started for my feature film. It took 6 years of waiting & when the confirmation came. I put the film aside & started working on it...

Yasodhara Rakshit: Sidhu Jyatha remains the best mentor/friend/paternal influence in literary detective canon, I feel. A tad better than Mycroft, who wasn't exactly a warm, affectionate sibling.

Sapna Sarfare: I agree with Sagnik on Feluda being an approachable character. I feel we belong to his world in some sense. Unlike other detectives, his background and essential thinking is something which most connect to. You read other detective stories as just stories, but with Feluda, his world is like your world.

Sagnik Chatterjee: In Feluda , all characters are having the qualities of Ray himself. In Feluda novels , the villains fascinate me as well.. They all are 'super intelligent human being' but with a bad motivation towards life.

Yasodhara Rakshit: Yes. Someone like Maghanlal Meghraj.

Indrani Dutta: For our guests.. Director Sagnik Chatterjee is working on a documentary to mark Feluda ' turning' 50. He has revisited the actors and the locations and is hoping for a commercial release.

We will now close the session .

Thank you guests.

We will meet again.

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 26, 2022 6:12:05 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/specials/Celebrating-50-years-of-Satyajit-Rays-sleuth-Feluda/article60328958.ece