When Satyajit Ray introduced a new Bengali detective in Feludar Goendagiri (ফেলুদার গোয়েন্দাগিরি) in the Bengali periodical Sandesh in 1965, he did not have any plans for continuing the series. Details on how the story originated can be found in Sandip Ray’s piece in a Feluda commemorative issue published 30 years later and also in a report published in The Telegraph. The short story involves a case quite simple compared to some of Feluda’s more intricate adventures.
We also learn some facts about Feluda, some of which change in future stories. In Feludar Goendagiri, Topshe’s name is Tapesh Ranjan Bose, and Pradosh Mitter (Feluda) is a cousin related to him on his mother’s side. Topshe’s name changes to Tapesh Ranjan Mitter (Mitra) in subsequent stories and so does the relationship. Tosphe is a little over thirteen, and Feluda is twenty-seven years old in the story. We also learn that Feluda’s father’s name is Jaykrishna Mitter (Mitra). Although Feluda is as sharp as ever, in my opinion, he does seem a bit more impatient with Topshe than in future stories.
From reading Sandip Ray’s reminisces we know that Satyajit Ray was fond of traveling and making sure Bengali readers could share his experiences through the Feluda adventures. Satyajit Ray directed Kanchenjunga, his first completely original screenplay a few years earlier. Kanchenjunga (which has always been one of my all-time favorite movies in any language) was shot in Darjeeling. For the first Feluda story, Feludar Goendagiri, readers were transported back to Darjeeling. Feluda would come back again for Darjeeling Jomjomat and Sandip Ray mentions that this was one of Satyajit Ray’s favorite places.
Through Topshe’s first-person narrative, Feluda also educates as well as entertains. From the outset, he explains his thought-process and shares tidbits of information with readers. For example, in Feludar Goendagiri, readers learn some facts about differences in Bengali type-fonts
Equally important, Feluda’s acute sense of observation is evident in Feludar Goendagiri. He notices minute details that others fail to detect. However, his acute powers are not limited to visual observation, since the sense of smell, plays a major part in this story. Feluda uses this sense to great effect in future stories such as Bombaiyer Bombete as well.
As discussed, many of the key features of future Feluda stories are already present in Feludar Goendagiri.
(If you’ve already read the story, please check out the quiz.)
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