Satyajit Ray is a greatly revered filmmaker and a fiction writer throughout the Indian subcontinent. His books have been translated into various languages including English, French, Spanish, Polish, Italian and some Indian regional languages.
Winner of various prestigious awards, both as a filmmaker as well as an author, he also has unto himself the credit of creating the fictitious amateur detective – Pradosh C. Mitter, affectionately known as Feluda (pronounced Felu-da. The Bengali character’s true nickname is ‘Felu’, but since the stories are narrated by Tapesh, Feluda‘s younger cousin, the Bengali suffix for elder brother ‘-da‘ is added). Feluda is both a popular Bengali television serial as well as a collection of short stories in Bengali and English both. Since I never knew how to read Bengali, I read the book in English. Although the true essence of the Bengali book, verbatim Satyajit Ray, may have been lost during the translation, it remains a very powerful book. I have a few Bengali acquaintances who watch this show regularly and narrate their tales with wide eyes and exceptional ecstasy for weeks after.
The Feluda tales are a jolly little bunch of good-humoured, simply put, enjoyable detective stories. They are all set up in different locations ranging from Gangtok, Sikkim in Trouble in Gangtok to Mumbai, Maharashtra in The bandits of Bombay. Feluda is an especially bright man who teams up with his younger cousin Tapesh or as he is often called in the book – Topshe ( Topshe is a distortion of his name executed by Feluda) , to fight crime, prevent fraud and spread goodwill in various parts of India. The stories are narrated by Topshe who greatly admires Feluda’s unmatched investigative skills and intuition. The duo meet Feluda’s favorite author Lalmohan Babu who writes under the pseudonym ‘Jatayu‘ early in the series. Lalmohan Babu is extremely clumsy as well as an extremely creative character. In Satyajit Ray’s own words, Lalmohan Babu provides ‘dollops of humour’ to the stories. Although not very well-known, I have never heard a negative comment about the Feluda tales. Enjoyed by us as kids and revered by us as elders, The Feluda tales are the Indian Sherlock Holmes.