The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blood and brandy
Sandip Ray (centre) directs Rabi Ghosh and Saswata Chatterjee in Baksharahasya. A file picture

The Baksharahasya shoot was full of adventure. There was a scene in the telefilm where a man comes to Feluda for his autograph. But while Feluda scribbles on the pad, the man hits him on the head. Babuda (Sandip Ray) decided to show the action in silhouette.

Swagata, Babuda’s assistant, volunteered to do the action. He got hold of a hollow plastic rod and we did a rehearsal. It was smooth. But while shooting, Swagata ended up hitting me hard enough to leave a gash. Blood oozed out, my head reeled and my knees wobbled.

Swagata had inadvertently hit me with the edge of the rod. Anyway, the bulge that I got on my forehead looked natural for our next shot and I decided not to dab ice on the swollen area.

But it’s Rabikaku (Rabi Ghosh) whom I miss the most when I think of Baksharahasya. He was great fun! He was very affectionate and erudite as well. Saswata (Chatterjee) and I had a great time with him.

One evening after pack-up, Rabikaku asked us to drop into the hotel bar. He wanted to treat us to drinks. Saswata had a whiskey, I opted for rum and Rabikaku ordered brandy for himself. Babuda and Bunidi (Lolita, Sandip’s wife) stuck to pineapple juice.

Shooting outdoors for Baksharahasya was really painful. It was freezing cold at Kufri in Shimla. I was shivering despite wearing three pairs of socks! Rabikaku would ask us to hop over to the bus where kakima (Rabikaku’s wife) would be sitting with his flask of brandy, among other things. “Jao, giye ektu brandy kheye esho,” he would command and we, like obedient boys, would queue up before kakima for a sip.

Otherwise, our daily diet comprised coffee and chocolate. We were running out of time and so would slog from morning till night. And everyone had to skip lunch.

Later, Rabikaku, Saswata and I played Jatayu-Topshe-Feluda in Gosaipur Sargaram. We shot in Bolpur and different areas of Birbhum. During the shoot, Rabikaku had thrown a dinner for us. He gave us red wine! That was in 1996. But right after the Gosaipur Sargaram shooting, Rabikaku fell ill. He was on the sets along with Soumitra Chatterjee for some other film or serial when he complained of uneasiness. He passed away before he could be taken to the hospital.

(Next week: Feluda in Puri)

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