Feluda (Pradosh Chandra Mitra)

Created by Satyajit Ray
(1921-92)

PRADOSH CHANDRA MITTER, more commonly known as FELUDA is a thirty-something private eye created by the well known Indian filmmaker, cartoonist, musician and novelist Satyajit Ray. The character made his debut in 1965 in the popular Bengali children’s magazine Sandesh that Ray edited (and which his grandfather had founded), appearing regularly in novellas and short stories until the author’s death in the 1990s.  Usually, a Feluda story would appear in the special Puja (an Indian festival) edition of that magazine, or Desh, a magazine published by the printing house for Ray’s novels and story collections.  Ray also wrote other stories for children.

Feluda lives at 21 Rajani Sen Road, a middle class suburb in Southern Calcutta. He’s tall, athletic, and is no stranger to the martial-arts (although he does occasionally carry a gun). And he also, of course, has a keen analytical mind. Just the thing, of course for solving seemingly impossible mysteries, with his best friend and younger cousin, Tapesh Ranjan “Topshe” Mitra, who plays Watson to Feluda’s Sherlock Holmes.

The two were usually accompanied on their cases by their older friend, pulp writer Lalmohan Ganguli, a buffoon who offered some comic relief, as well as occasional logistical support.  A nice post-modern touch was provided by references to Ganguli’s own detective creation, Prakhar Rudra, whose name phonetically resembled Feluda’s Bengali name.  Ganguli used his nom-de-plume “Jatayu” (a mythical bird in the Indian epic, Ramayana) for his literary output.  His works would be very popular with the young children in Feluda’s stories, much to the latter’s disdain, which would sometimes find a release through cutting comments on various geographical or historical inaccuracies in Ganguli’s stories.  Rudra’s adventures would even share the same alliterative titles in Bengali (eg. Shaharay Shihoron, or Shivers in the Sahara) as Feluda’s early stories.

Although the influenced of Holmes is obvious, the stories were aimed at children, and therefore went easy on the sex (in fact, there were hardly any female characters other than aunts and grandmothers) and violence (usually the threat of Feluda’s raised Colt revolver would disarm villains).

Nevertheless, Ray had a real knack for savvy and innovative plotting, which may explain why Feluda was adored by both children and adults, and his depictions of an ever-changing India offer an intriguing and heartfelt commentary on that country, virtually defining almost two generations of Bengalis.  The stories were written in easy to understand ‘spoken” Bengali (as opposed to the more elaborate version of the “good” Bengali literature), and crammed with Indian trivia, much of it courtesy of Feluda himself and his paternal Uncle Sidhu, who had a habit of storing newspaper cuttings in scrapbooks. There is much speculation that Feluda’s character was modeled on Ray himself, as he shares Ray’s love for trivia, his tall physique and a tendency for smoking heavily (Feluda smokes the Charminar brand).  Ray, an accomplished graphic artist, also designed the book jackets and provided the illustrations inside.

Feluda’s only principal villain would be the rich and crooked businessman Maganlal Meghraj, who has appeared in “Joy Baba Felunath” and “Joto Kando Kathmandu.”

Feluda and the gang appeared in thirty-five mostly serialized stories. Other than being one of the most well-known Indian literary creations, the books are bloody good, and not to be missed. And for those whose Bengali isn’t quite up to snuff, many of Feluda’s books have also been translated into English and published by Penguin Books. As well, there have been features films (including two directed by Ray, as well as several directed by his son, Sandip Ray, himself a noted director), numerous TV adaptations and made-for-television movies, radio shows and even a comic strip.  Ray’s directed feature Sonar Kella (1974), the first screen appearance of Feluda, is arguably the most popular Bengali children’s movie ever.

In the films, the role of Feluda was originally played, in two Bengali films directed (as well as edited, scripted and scored) by Satyajit Ray himself, by Soumitra Chatterjee, who had starred in many of Ray’s other movies. Sabyasachi Chakraborty took over from Baksha Rahasya’(1996) onwards. Jatayu was played originally by Santosh Dutta, and Ray even drew the character in his stories based on Dutta.  Later, in Baksha Rahasya, Rabi Ghosh took over the role. Finally by Bibhu Bhattacharya after the death of Santosh Dutta.

There have also been several hour long episodes made for Indian TV (part of the Satyajit Ray Presents, directed by his son Sandip), featuring the adventures of Feluda. In these Shashi Kapoor played Feluda with Mohan Agashe as Jatayu.

SHORT STORIES & NOVELLAS

  • “Feludar Goendagiri” (December 1965-February 1966, Sandesh; English title “Feluda’s Investigation” or “Danger in Darjeeling”)
  • “Badshahi Angti” (May 1966-May 1967, Sandesh; English title “The Emperor’s Ring”)Buy this book
  • “Kailash Choudharyr Pathar” (1967, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “Kailash Chowdhury’s Jewel”)
  • “Sheyal Debota Rahasya” (Summer issue, May-June 1967, Sandesh; English title “The Anubis Mystery”)
  • “Gangtokey Gandagol” (1970, Sharadiya Desh; English title “Trouble in Gangtok”)
  • “Sonar Kella” (1970, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Golden Fortress”)
  • “Baksho Rahashya” (1972, Sharadiya Desh; English title “Incident on the Kalka Mall”)
  • “Sammaddarer Chabi” (1973, Sharadiya Sandesh; English tile “The Key”)
  • “Kailashey Kelenkari” (1973, Sharadiya Desh; English title “A Killer in Kailash”)
  • “Royal Bengal Rahashya” (1974, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Royal Bengal Mystery”)
  • “Joi Baba Felunath” (1975, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Mystery of the Elephant God”)Buy this book
  • “Ghurghutiyar Ghatona” (1975, Sharadiya Sandesh; English tile “The Locked Chest”)
  • “Bombaiyer Bombete” (Autumn 1976, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Buccaneers of Bombay”)
  • “Gosainpur Sargaram” (Autumn Special 1976, Sandesh; English title “The Mystery of the Walking Dead”)
  • “Gorosthaney Sabdhan” (1977, Sharadiya Desh; English title “Trouble in the Graveyard”)
  • “Chhinnamastar Abhishap” (1978, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Curse of the Goddess”)
  • “Hatyapuri” (1979, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “The House of Death”)
  • “Golokdham Rahasya” (May-August 1980, Sandesh, English title “Mystery at Golok Lodge”)
  • “Jato Kando Kathmandutey” (1980, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Criminals of Kathmandu”)
  • “Napoleoner Chithi” (1981, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “Napoleon’s Letter”)
  • “Tintorettor Jishu” (1982, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “Tintoretto’s Jesus”)
  • “Ambar Sen Antardhyan Rahasya” (May 5-June 15, 1983, Anandamela; English title “The Disappearance of Ambar Sen”)
  • “Jahangirer Swarnamudra” (1983, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “The Gold Coins of Jehangir”)
  • “Ebar Kando Kedarnathey” (1984, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “Crime in Kedarnath”)
  • “Bosepukure Khunkharapi” (1985, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “The Acharya Murder Case”)
  • “Darjeeling Jamjomat” (1986, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “Murder in the Mountains”)
  • “Bhuswarga Bhayankar” (1987; English title “Peril in Paradise”)
  • “Apsara Theatre er Mamla” (1987, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “The Case of the Apsara Theatre”)
  • “Shakuntalar Kanthahar” 1988, Sharadiya Sandesh; English title “Shakuntala’s Necklace”)
  • “Golapi Mukta Rahashya” (1989, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Mystery of the Pink Pearl”) Buy this book
  • “London ey Feluda” (1989, Sharadiya Desh; English title “Feluda in London”)
  • “Dr. Munshir’s Diary” (1990, Sharadiya Sandesh;English title “Dr Munshi’s Diary”)
  • “Nayan Rahashya” (1990, Sharadiya Desh; English title “The Mystery of Nayan”)
  • “Robertson er Ruby” (1992, Sharadiya Desh; English title “Robertson’s Ruby”)
  • “Indrajal Rahasya” (December 1995-February 1966, Sandesh; English title “The Magical Mystery”)

COLLECTIONS

  • Feluda and Co. (1976)
  • Feluda One Feluda Two (1985)
  • Double Feluda (1989)Feluda One Feluda Two
  • Feluda Plus Feluda (1989)
  • Feluda’s Last Case and Other Stories (1995)Buy this book
  • The Complete Adventures of Feluda, Volume 1 (2000)Buy this book
  • The Complete Adventurres of Feluda, Volume 2 (2005)Buy this book

FILMS

 Badshahi Angti   Feluda 2017 TV series

  • SONAR KELLA
    (1974)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on the novel by Satyajit Ray
    Screenplay by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Satyajit Ray
    Starring Soumitra Chatterjee as FELUD
    with Santosh Dutta as Jatay
    and Siddhartha Chatterjee as Topsh
    Also starring Santanu Bagch, Ajoy Banerjee, Haradhan Bannerjee, Kushal Chakravart, Bimal Chatterjee, Rekha Chatterjee, Siddharta Chatterjee, Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Ashok Mukherjee, Kamu Mukherjee, Shailen Mukherjee, Shiuli Mukherjee, Sunil Sarkar
  • JOI BABA FELUNATH
    (1978)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on the novel by Satyajit Ray
    Screenplay by Satyajit Ray
    Based on his novel
    Directed by Satyajit Ray
    Starring Soumitra Chatterjee as FELUDA
    with Santosh Dutta as Jatayu
    and Siddhartha Chatterjee as Topshe
    Also starring Haradhan Bannerjee, Biplab Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt, Kamu Mukherjee, Monu Mukherjee, Santosh Sinha
  • BOMBAIYER BOMBETE
    (2003)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on the novel by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakraborty as FELUDA
    with Paramabrata as Topshe
    and Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu
    Also starring Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajatabha Dutta,  Rajesh Sharma
  • KAILASHEY KELENKARI
    (2007)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on the novel by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakraborty as FELUDA
    with Paramabrata as Topshe
    and Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu
  • TINTORETOR JISHU
    (2008, T Sarkar Productions)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on the novel by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakrabarty as FELUDA
    with Parambrata Chatterjee as Topshe
    and Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu
    Also starring Syed Hasan Imam, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Silajit Majumder, Biswajit Chakraborty, Paran Bandyopadhyay, Joydip Mukherjee, Debesh Roy Chowdhury, Rajaram Yagnik
  • GOROSTHANEY SHABDHAN
    (2010, V3G Films Private Limited)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on the novel by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakrabarty as FELUDA
    with Saheb Bhattacharya as Topshe
    and Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu
    Also starring Dwijen Bandopadhyay, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Subhashish Mukherjee, Haradhan Bandopadhyay, Tinnu Anand, Pradip Mukherjee, Tamal Ray Chowdhury
  • ROYAL BENGAL RAHASHYA
    (2011, Shree Venkatesh Films)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on based on the novel by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakrabarty as Feluda
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakrabarty as FELUDA
    with Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu
    Also starring  Basudeb Mukherjee
  • DOORBEEN
    (2014)
    112 minutes
    Language: Bengali
    Partially based oncharacters created by Satyajit Ray and Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay
    Written and directed by Subrato Guha Roy
    Sabyasachi Chakraborty as FELUDA
    and Soumitra Chatterjee as BYOMKESH BAKSHI
    Also starring Shantilal Mukherjee , Anjana Basu, Aparajita Auddy
    Not really part of the canon, but an affectionate spoof. The plot revolves around a young boy who finally meets his childhood heroes, popular Indian detectives Feluda and Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s Byomkesh Bakshi, who are now elderly and living next door to each other. 
  • BADSHAHI ANGTI
    (2014, Shree Venkatesh Films/Surinder Films)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on Badshahi Angti by Satyajit Ray
    Written by Satyajit Ray and Sandip Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Abir Chatterjee as FELUDA
    and Sourav Das as Topse
  • DOUBLE FELUDA
    (2016, Eros International)
    Language: Bengali
    Based on characters created by Satyajit Ray
    Screenplay by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Sabyasachi Chakraborty as FELUDA
    and Saheb Bhattacharya as Jatayu
    Also starring Dhritiman Chatterjee, Bratya Basu, Saswata Chatterjee, Gaurav Chakraborty, Paran Bandopadhyay, Rajesh Sharma

TELEVISION

  • SATYAJIT RAY PRESENTS 1
    (1985-86)
    Language: Bengali
    Directed by Sandip Satyajit
    Starring Shashi Kapoor played FELUDA
    with Mohan Agashe as Jatayu
    The role was also played, in several Bengal films, by Soumitra Chatterjee, who had earlier starred as Feluda in a couple of features back in the seventies, but he was evidently getting a little long in the tooth by then, so the majority of the Bengali telefilms featured younger actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty. Jatayu was played sometimes by Rabi Ghosh, sometimes by Anup Kumar and finally by Bibhu Bhattacharya after the death of Santosh Dutta.
  • SATYAJIT RAY PRESENTS 2
    (1986-87)
    Language: Bengali
    Directed by Sandip Satyajit
    Starring Shashi Kapoor played FELUDA
    with Mohan Agashe as Jatayu
  • KISSA KATHMANDU MEIN
    (1986-87, DD National)
    Made-for-television movie
    Language: Hindi
    Based on the novel, Jato Kando Kathmandute, by Satyajit Ray
    Directed by Sandip Ray
    Starring Shashi Kapoor as FELUDA
    with Mohan Agashe as Jatayu
    and Master Alankar Joshi as Topshe
    Also starring Utpal Dutt, Moon Moon Sen, Pankaj Kapur
  • GHURGHUTIYAR GHOTONA
    (1992, DD Banga)
    Based on characters created by Satyajit Ray
    Director: Bibhash Chakraborty
    Starring Soumitra Chatterjee as FELUDA
    with Indranil Haldar as Topse
  • GOLOKDHAM RAHASYA
    (1992, DD Banga)
    Based on characters created by Satyajit Ray
    Director: Bibhash Chakraborty
    Starring Soumitra Chatterjee as FELUDA
    with Samrat Sengupta as Topse
  • FELUDA 30
    (1996-97, DD Bangla)
    Director: Sandip Ray
    Series of made-for-TV movies

    • Baksho Rahashya
    • Gosaipur Sargaram
    • Sheyal Debota Rahasy
    • Bosepukure Khunkharapi
    • Joto Kando Kathmandute
  • SATYAJITER GOPPO
    (1998-99, DD Bangla)
    Director: Sandip Ray
    Series of made-for-TV movies
    • Jahangirer Swarnamudra
    • Ghurghutiyar Ghotona
    • Golapi Mukto Rahashya
    • Ambar Sen Antardhan Rahashya
  • FELUDA
    (2017-18)
    4 episodes
    Based on characters created by Satyajit Ray
    Director: Parambrata Chattopadhyay
    Writers: Aniruddha Dasgupta, Padmanabha Dasgupta
    Starring Parambrata Chattopadhyay as FELUDA
    and Riddhi Sen as Topshe

    • “Sheyal Debota Rahasya” (September 9, 2017)
    • “Ghurghutiyar Ghotona” (October 13, 2017)
    • “Golokdham Rahasya” (January 13, 2018)
    • “Gangtokey Gondogol” (??)

RADIO

Other than the BBC versions below, Ananda Publishers have also released an audio version of Baksho Rahasya (“The Suitcase Mystery”), the cover of which is pictured.. It stars the original cast from the first two films in the main roles, along with many other well-known actors from Bengali cinema.  According to the credits, Satyajit Ray directed the radio play, but no other details are provided (including the year of broadcast). From the cast details, it is estimated to be from the early 1980s.

  • THE GOLDEN FORTRESS
    (2007, BBC World Service)
    Original air date: February 10, 2007
    Starring Rahul Bose as FELUDA
    With Anupam Kher as Lalmohan
  • THE MYSTERY OF THE ELEPHANT GOD
    (2007, BBC World Service)
    Original air date: August 11, 2007
    Starring Rahul Bose as FELUDA
    With Anupam Kher as Lalmohan

COMIC STRIPS

Evidently the individual strips appeared in The Telegraph (Kolkata), but they’ve also been collected in several graphic novels. Among the story arcs that have run so far are:

  • FELUDA
    Written by Subhadra Sengupta
    Art by Tapas Guha
    Among the story arcs that have run so far are:

    • “A Bagful of Mystery”
    • “Calamity in Kailash”
    • “Chaos in Kathmandu”

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Tipu Purkayastha, with additional legwork by Kevin Burton Smith. About the illustration: Pictured at the top of the page are Feluda and Topshe, as they appeared in their 1965 debut appearance, “Feludar Goendagiri.” The original illustrations — by Ray himself — are what we all remember, and our image of Feluda will always be that.
A final note: Kevin apologizes for his sometimes erratic spelling. He blames it on contradictory source material, but apparently his Bengal and Hindi aren’t up to snuff…

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