Feluda on Feluda
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- Published 19.09.11
Are you serious about not doing any more Feluda films?
My decision to not do another Feluda after Royal Bengal Rahasya is not absolute. I feel I should not do any more Feludas because I do not have the physical fitness that is needed to play Feluda. Feluda can squat on the floor and stand up straight without any support. Because he does yoga regularly. I cannot bring myself to doing either yoga or going to the gym after a hectic day at work.
Age is catching up with me. But yes, I am definitely much fitter than most 55-year-olds and I bank on that when I do Feluda.... The main problem is my paunch. Which was there in Gorosthanay Sabdhaan and is there in Royal Bengal Rahasya too. I cannot accept a Feluda with a paunch. The audience will not accept my paunch. So, someone who is much fitter and looks better would be good. Performance-wise, I can still deliver. Let Royal Bengal release, let’s see how the audience react, how the exhibitors and the media react. I know they will say ‘Feluda thik achhe but his paunch is an eyesore’, and I am ready for it. I know my paunch is an eyesore. So, I think it’s time for me to call it quits.
What if Sandip Ray still wants you for Joto Kando Kathmandute?
Joto Kando Kathmandute will require a lot of physical activity, which I doubt I would be able to pull off. But again, Feluda is such a tempting character that I also can’t say no. And I am going to try my best if I finally do the film. Maybe I will need to wear a corset for that film!
Anyway, I have done 10 Feluda stories for television and five feature films. Aar koto korbo? Even Sean Connery didn’t do that many James Bond films, leave alone the other actors. Did Jeremy Brett do more than 15 Sherlock Holmes? I don’t know.... Soumitra Chatterjee only did two feature films and two for TV... Being too greedy isn’t good. You know, Sean Connery looked helpless (as James Bond) in Diamonds Are Forever. Feluda cannot be helpless. He cannot depend on Topshe to lead the way. That would be a pathetic Feluda and I would never do it.... In Royal Bengal, though, I am looking formidable enough.
You were 39 when you did your first Feluda — Baksha Rahasya (1995). Did you start a little late?
Well, maybe it would have been better if I had started at 35.
When did you first feel you were not up to being Feluda any more?
I have been telling them since the fourth film (Gorosthanay Sabdhaan), no more…. Now even if we do the sixth film, there will definitely not be a seventh. That I am very sure of.... I was at my best during Bombaiyer Bombete. Since it was the first film, I was very, very enthused.... Soumitra Chatterjee-r pore Sabyasachi Chakrabarty ke manay na. Soumitra Chatterjee’s is a real Bangali international goyenda. His sheer personality is so much! His Feluda can solve any problem.
What do you feel you lacked compared to Soumitra’s Feluda?
I feel I lacked Bangaliana in my attitude. The way Soumitra Chatterjee would wear his muffler, the way he would eat or read a book…. Also Feluda’s erudition. I think I am culturally a little backward as far as Feluda is concerned. I do not have his kind of knowledge and his memory bank. Maybe I match the physical description of Feluda, 6’2” tall, but that is not all. Yet, that is not to say that I am suffering from any inferiority complex. I am doing Feluda my way. I have a north Indian culture... having lived in Delhi for a long time... which overrides my Bangaliana.
But you never tried to emulate him?
No, I never did that. The director had asked me not to. Babuda specifically told me not to watch Sonar Kella or Joi Baba Felunath (for reference) because he knew just how overwhelmed I was… that I might have a tendency to copy him.
Did Soumitra Chatterjee match your idea of Feluda?
No. My Feluda was a fictitious person but after watching the Ray movies, Feluda bolle oi loktar mukhtai mone porto.
Do you remember the first Feluda story you had read?
I think it was Badshahi Angti. It was fantastic! I had just got into college. I voraciously read one story after another. And then came Sonar Kella (the movie). I was just blown! Dekhe mone holo, erokom akta roley jodi obhinoy kora jeto...
You always wanted to be an actor?
I used to do theatre in college in Delhi. When I came to Calcutta, my pishemoshai (Jochhon Dastidar) got me into TV and then Prabhat Roy took me in his film, and then Tapan Sinha gave me a chance.... So, that’s how it happened.
Feluda has always been my dream role. Aar ki kandoi na korechhi dream role-r jonyo! (Laughs.) I bunked office to see Joi Baba Felunath. At Plaza cinema in Delhi’s Connaught Place. I told my office I wasn’t feeling well. I was actually feeling unwell, thinking I would have to give the movie a miss as there was only one show!
Do you think any of your sons (Gaurav and Arjun) can slip into Feluda’s shoes?
The elder one can, definitely. He has the aptitude. Not the younger one, he is a different sort (laughs).
What are your post-Feluda plans?
Well, I plan to do something more on wildlife and nature, like photography and making documentaries. I really want to do a book on travel and wildlife... let’s see. I want to make a few more documentaries. If the forest department allows me, then one each on Jaldapara and Buxa sanctuaries.
And on screen?
Khuchro khachra cinema... and then the role of fathers. Tarpor buroder role...
You don’t want to do television?
No, I don’t feel like doing TV anymore. Gaaner Oparey was my last TV serial. I did it because I wanted to promote a good serial. The serial was conceptualised by Rituparno Ghosh, and produced by Prosenjit and Arpita. It also launched my sons, and my wife (Mithu) was there. So I thought it would be nice if I could support them.
Of all your Feluda films, is there a personal favourite?
All are my favourites. Of these, Gorosthanay Sabdhaan was a fascinating mix of history and contemporary crime. It had a sense of menace. Royal Bengal has great intrigue and mystery and a fear factor.... I loved shooting for Baksha Rahasya, Joto Kando Kathmandute (TV series) and Gosaipur Sargaram. Also, Golapi Mukta Rahasya. Darun! Actually, more than watching Feluda films, I love reading Feluda stories. But I love to shoot for the Feluda films more than reading Feluda (laughs). I love the hurumtaal on the sets!
Since you love it so much, how difficult was it to take the decision to quit?
It wasn’t difficult at all. Because I am not a greedy person. If I had been greedy, I would have had a big bank balance. I desired to play Feluda, which has been accomplished. I wanted to travel the jungles, which I have been able to do. And I wanted my family to be with me in all this, which they have. I don’t want anything more.
Sabyasachi on being cast as Feluda for the first time in Baksha Rahasya for TV in 1995
Well, I had once met Satyajit Ray and requested him to consider me if he ever did another Feluda film. He said to me, ‘Aami aar Feluda korbo na. Tumi amar chheler songe katha boley dekhte paro.
Then a few years later, I went to Nandan for a screening of Pather Panchali, where Sandip Ray was present. Despite feeling awkward, I went up to him, introduced myself and said, ‘If you ever do a Feluda film, sir, please consider me....’
From then on, it was a long wait. And one day, I finally got a call.
‘Sabyasachibabu aapni ki interested?’ Sandip Ray asked me. It was a TV series. The first story was Baksha Rahasya (picture above).
Both Bijoya Ray and Lolita Ray were present during my make-up test. After the make-up was done, Bijoya Ray looked at me for some time and then said, ‘Amar toh kharap lagchhe na.’ I jumped in excitement, thinking half the battle was over. After a while, Lolita Ray said, ‘Manachhe kintu!’
I knew I was in!
Then I got to know that Saswata (Chatterjee) would play Topshe, which was great because we were doing theatre together back then. We did 10 Feluda stories, one after another for television. After the sixth, we started badgering Babuda to do a feature film. And after the 10th telefilm, Ramoji Rao showed interest in producing a movie. Babuda said he would do Bombaiyer Bombete. And it turned out to be a huge success.
sandip ray on life after sabyasachi
t2: Sabyasachi Chakrabarty is planning to call it quits as Feluda. What happens to Joto Kando Kathmandute?
Sandip: I really don’t know about Joto Kando Kathmandute, you know... because from what I hear the casinos are closing down in Kathmandu. Then it would be very difficult. We need a colourful Kathmandu for the film. But in any case, I won’t do a Feluda film next year. Maybe in 2013 again. It all depends on how people take the new film, Royal Bengal Rahasya.
But then Sabyasachi may not be able to do it...
Yes. We may have to hunt for a new Feluda...
So, you do plan to make more Feluda films...
Definitely. We can make three-four more films. I will have to draw up a fresh list. I have almost exhausted the first one. But it’s crucial to find the right person to play Feluda... someone who is mature and has Bangaliana. Finding such a person will be very challenging.