Teenager takes Feluda to China - Maharashtra girl to present paper on super sleuth

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By ANANYA SENGUPTA in Mumbai
  • Published 23.08.06
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Mumbai, Aug. 23: Feluda’s already snooped around in Hong Kong on the trail of the missing Tintorettor Jishu. Now he’s bound for China, but not to sniff out any stolen painting of an Italian Renaissance master.

Satyajit Ray’s six-footer super sleuth, who loves his dalmut from Kalimuddin’s in New Market and can’t resist his nolen guder sandesh, is being taken to China next month by a 14-year-old girl from Maharashtra.

Saawan Raje will present a 12-page paper on Bengal’s most famous fictional detective at a children’s conference where young representatives from all over the world will showcase the literature of their countries.

“I love Feluda’s adventures. There is so much unpredictability and surprise that once I started reading one, I was hooked,” Saawan beams.

The Pune girl, who will be leaving for China on September 17 with her mother, has yet to read all of Feluda’s adventures but she knows as much about the Charminar-puffing sleuth’s green book and phenomenal memory and martial arts expertise as any Ray-lover anywhere.

“Ray’s details amaze me. The smells and sights of the places he describes are etched in my mind. I want to present India as an adventurous country in China.”

Saawan is raring to read all the 35 Feluda stories Ray wrote between 1965 and 1992 and wants to watch his films, too. “I have seen Joy Baba Felunath. I want to see Sonar Kella next,” she chirps.

Feluda — or the quintessential middle-class Bengali Prodosh C. Mitter — first appeared in a short story called Feludar Goendagiri in Ray’s collection Ek Dojon Goppo sometime in the sixties.

But it was after Badshahi Angti was published in the puja number of a Bengali magazine that he, assistant Topshe and bumbling crime fiction writer Jatayu, who joined them in Sonar Kella, became a rage.

Talking nineteen to the dozen about her favourite Feluda, Saawan confesses she is awed by the tales of adventure, intrigue and murder set in exotic locales and the racy narrative style in which they are written.

“It leaves scope for the imagination and as I read the stories it begins to unfold visually in front of my eyes. That’s the best part.”

According to her mother Swati, Saawan fell in love with Feluda’s adventures after she read the first one about a year and a half ago.

“I think she saw it in a bookstore and I bought her a copy. Now, we have a deal — whenever she scores the highest in any subject in her tests, I buy her a book as a gift! Now, she has 12-13 books,” Swati says proudly.

Although Saawan reads voraciously and writes poetry and school plays, she has no plans of turning novelist like her grandmother Shailja Raje.

“I want to join the civil services or the foreign services. Reading and writing are my two passions and I want to keep it that way,” she says.

But for now, China is the next landmark on Saawan’s calendar. She is the sole representative from India at the International Board of Books for Young People conference.