Sunday, August 10, 2008

Feluda stories...

I've recently been reading an anthology of Feluda's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feluda mystery stories. These are a set of whodunit type short stories set around 1960's to 1980's written by Satyajit Ray http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyajit_Ray.

A synopsis of the series:
Pradosh C. Mitter, nick named Felu-da (the 'da' comes from bengali for big brother - da), is a private detective based out of Calcutta in the 1960's. He, along with a faithful sidekick, his cousin Tapesh (Topshe) solve various crimes happening not just in Calcutta but even in exotic (ahem) foreign locations like Kathmandu in Nepal. The crimes range from standard murders to international espionage to smuggling of historical idols (in going with the 60's era where smuggling was the ultimate crime. Ah, the innocent days when people hadn't heard of heinous crimes like serial bombings, organized terrorism) etc.

They are primarily (and in my opinion too heavily) inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Now apart from the stories themselves what I find interesting about these stories is the extremely indian setting. For instance I may have read any number of mystery stories but till now I didn't come across any where the murderer takes advantage of a scheduled load shedding power cut to commit the crime! (For those living in countries where there is no power cut ever, load shedding is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Load_shedding ). The description of bazaars, indian eating habits, Odomos while staking out in woods, superstitions, numerous complex family relations and little tongue-in-cheek snide remarks about westerners (What? They can call us the land of snake charmers and elephants and we can't make fun of their li'l idiosyncracies?). Interesting to read but a bit watered down for the children audience it aims at. Satyajit Ray specifically mentions that he wrote these stories to be published in a children's magazine called Sandesh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandesh_%28magazine%29)and consequently there is no violence, passion etc etc that is the hallmark of a mystery story going on to be a thriller. (Have I mentioned that lately I've found myself reading forewords of most books I read)

An interesting if not particularly arresting read. Though I am told by knowledgeable people that the original Bengali version is very very good and a lot is lost in translation (pun intended) to English

4 comments:

Miss-understood said...

Oh my god, i am like hooked on to feluda stories for like months now!

Good to see someone else who shares the same interest.
:)

Swapnil said...

Miss-Understood : I'm on the second volume myself. Wouldn't call myself a fan though

bhumika said...

I have watched some of the movies based on feluda stories. They are quite interesting. Also, see if you can get your hands on this story from Ray's collection called 'Indigo'. It's called Khagam - damn scary. u'll like it :)

Swapnil said...

Bhumika: Thanks. will keep a lookout for khagam