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Feluda cracks theatre code
Sabysachi with son Gourab as Feluda and Topse in a rehearsal

Feluda will be a busy man this January, his hands full with both screen and stage assignments. While chasing a smuggling racket in Sandip Ray’s Kailase Kelenkari, the super sleuth will also crack the murder mystery in Apsara Theatre-er Mamla in the auditorium.

Sabyasachi ‘Feluda’ Chakraborty, a member of Charbak, is steering the first-ever play on Satyajit Ray’s sleuth. Apsara Theatre-er Mamla premieres at Academy of Fine Arts on January 1. Sabyasachi tells t2 about the highs and lows of playing and directing Feluda on stage...

• What motivated you to take Feluda to the stage?

After successfully staging Shibram Chakraborty’s Cholo Potol Tuli, we realised that we had to choose another well-known writer. We thought of several names, from Abanindranath Tagore to Sunil Gangopadhyay, and then suddenly we thought why not Satyajit Ray?

The executive committee of Charbak suggested we do a Feluda story. We decided on Apsara Theatre-er Mamla. Since Feluda stories are largely travelogue thrillers, it’s difficult to adapt them. But the plot of Apsara is suitable for stage adaptations. Also, Babuda (Sandip Ray) assured us that he had no intention of adapting it on screen.

• What is the plot all about?

It’s about a theatre group that is gearing up to stage a play called Chhannochhara. The team has several junior artistes, including actresses. But all of a sudden, one of the junior artistes disappears and a senior actor is murdered. Two actresses are suspected. Then, Feluda steps in.

It is easy to adapt this story for the stage because Feluda solves the mystery sitting at home, nursing an injury. The play is in whodunnit format. There are several suggestive scenes — murder on the street, driving a car and a lakeside.

• How easy or difficult is it for you to direct a Feluda play?

Till now, I have acted in three Feluda films, 10 telefilms and three radio plays. This will be the first on stage. It is very challenging. After playing Feluda again and again, it has become easy for me to get under the skin of the character.

Direction is an entirely different ball game. In the films and telefilms, things are a lot easy under Sandip Ray’s direction. But I am not director material. I am too impatient. I often scream at my team, though I have worked as an assistant director in theatre before. I prefer to act.

• What was Sandip Ray’s reaction to the staging of Feluda?

We took his permission. Actor Arindam Ganguly has written the script; we showed the synopsis to Babuda. He told us to retain the Feluda flavour and not distort the script. We haven’t taken too many liberties; we have added a song-and-dance sequence and a few female characters.

• Why female characters?

That’s because no professional theatre group is complete without actresses. The play within the play had to have women characters.

• Who will play Jatayu and Topse?

My elder son Gourab is Topse, while Subir Roy Chowdhury will play Jatayu. Kheyali Dastidar plays Bidisha, an actress. If this play works, we will perhaps stage another Feluda story.

(Would you want to see Feluda on stage? Tell t2@abpmail.com)

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