Surprisingly, I have (had) read quite a few "on" Satyajit Ray but never one "by" him so far. Blame the availability in the book stores or getting my Kindle too late or may be too few Bengali friends around ;) whatever it may be! Till, I praised Agatha Christie's and Arthur Conan Doyle's works in front of a Hardcore Patriot, that I had read recently finished and also showed him what all I had from them. He just said one thing which got me thinking big time that "You are one of those quite a few Indians who haven't been to Leh - Laddakh but praise Grand Canyon to no end", and I was like "Whats the point dude?". It took me quite a while to actually decode (You see I am no Feluda) but when I got the point, I vowed to not to read a Christie ever till I finish "Feluda" completely. To my shock, amazement and ashamed confession - I even had the first of the two book series already on my Kindle which I picked I guess quite a while ago when it was being sold at a paltry 99/-. But as a true Satyajit Ray fan I have already got the second of the series too, all thanks to a friend who almost has every book that I can think of or at least he can source one at the drop of a hat :) (You know who you are and I love you for that). And am I glad? WHOA! I am super happy to have come across these gems, guys! If you haven't read these yet, you have no idea what you have missed. Although Satyajit Ray claims to have written them for children but no ways, these are too good to be ignored by adults or for that matter anyone who loves thrillers. Supremely clean of Violence, Blood and Gore stuff, it doesn't even have a female character in any of the stories - just imagine.
The Author himself is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and he mentioned the same at the very start in the opening note that he has read all Sherlock Holmes stories when he was a kid himself and the inspiration is quite evident. Not only that I will even say that his works are not in league with Doyle or Christie but the audience that he was catering to, seeing from that angle I can very well say they are not only fantastic but mind-blowing with ample of comic moments to keep one not only engrossed but happy too. The three main characters in all stories are Feluda (The Detective, real name Pradosh C Mitter), his side kick Topshe (Watson, real name Tapeshranjan Mitter - Cousin) and the hilarious Lalmohan Babu without which no story goes any further, who happens to be a B grade thriller writer who writes under the pseudonym "Jatayu", gets all his plots from Feluda and Topshe's adventures. The Adventure stories are written from the perspective of Topshe (a teenager) who sees it all happening in front of his eyes as his cousin Feluda not only takes him and us on the thrilling rides but makes him understand it all too. Among-st the three lead characters my favorite will always be Jatayu, the way he cracks the situation up is simply amazing and always had me in splits, may it be the way he screws it all up or the way he talks, the use of words, his vocabulary which keeps getting better with time and so much more. And of-course my favorite story will always be "The Golden Fortress" not only because I have seen the movie and I could visualize it all but because the way the entire chase and sequence is written that too with Rajasthan as background is simply superb.
In all its a huge collection of Fifteen stories each almost equally good. What is more outstanding is the way he has covered not only Bengal but the other cities and states like Rajasthan, Assam and even Bombay in the stories is superb. They are always travelling, either on a Train, or an Airplane or later half on Jatayu's new acquired car that he buys from his books selling so well :). Solving the cases of Emperor's Ring (a ring from Mughal Era) to solving the cases of Bandits of Bombay, Feluda gets to do it all and in style. From the bylanes of Calcutta to Mumbai, Benares, Lucknow, Gangtok, Darjeeling, Jaisalmer and even on moving trains. How Feluda starts from a mid 20's inexperienced unknown guy next door to a full-fledged very well known Detective almost all across is the book all about. His body language, mannerisms, book that he reads, movies that he watches and what not is simply amazing. For some reason young Satyajit Ray's face kept coming in front of my eyes as I kept reading the Feluda stories. One thing I missed in these stories may be in the first part is that they don't go out of India anywhere. Who knows, may be in the next they get to go out, I so much wished that Feluda at-least gets to go to England once :).
If you have read Feluda's adventures, do let know how you liked them but if you haven't, you exactly know what to do now. As I move on eagerly to the second part to see if Feluda goes out and solves some International cases too.