Arise, O Wonderful
by Aritra Dey
TLR Rating: 7 1/2 Reels.
Ask any man or woman hailing from West Bengal about a detective, and most of them, young and old alike, will utter only one name. Bengali literature had given its voracious readers a fair share of detective stories, perhaps more than any other regional language. Kiriti Ray and Byomkesh Bakshi led the front until the emergence of a certain 27 year old from the hands of the most creative individual to emerge from the sub-continent after Rabindranath Tagore. When Satyajit Ray created Pradosh Chandra Mitter, a.k.a. Feluda, skeptics had raised their voices. Half a century later, he is the easily the most popular sleuth in Bengali literature and given the family style of narration, Feluda’s fans have no age bar. When Dreamcity Artists announced the release of their first short film on Feluda’s origin story, the prospect was intriguing. ‘Feluda Utthan’ was released to the masses over social media to mark the super-sleuth’s 50th anniversary and Abir Roy left an indelible mark in the indie film circuit.
Choosing a documentary narrative style over a lengthy feature paid dividends, keeping the audience engaged while introducing them to a plethora of characters from Feluda-verse. P.C. Mitter had always been at a level above the common man; his concentration, physicality and observation bordered on the supernatural at times. But beneath that intelligent exterior lay a small child, trying hard to get over the demons of his past with an ironclad willpower. Aptly narrated by Tapesh Ranjan Mitter or ‘Topshe’, ’‘Feluda Utthan’ explores this in detail. The narrative started with the death of his father, Jaykrishna Mitter, an incident which would change his life forever and perhaps drove him to become the determined individual he would be recognized as. In a non-linear format, Abir Roy chronicled Feluda’s journey from the crematorium to the eve of his Darjeeling trip.
‘Feluda Utthan’ is a dream venture for any fan of the detective, gifting the viewers the closest personal touch imaginable with several characters in his many stories. The choice to interview Srinath, Inspector Shome and Mary Sheela Biswas was a stroke of genius, for they all saw the man from very different angles. Srinath talked about the homely, foodie and doting elder brother while Inspector Shome could only marvel at the man’s extraordinary prowess of deduction. Mary Sheela Biswas spoke as an ardent admirer who had the fortune to experience his investigative skills firsthand and Siddheshwar ‘Sidhu Jyatha’ Bose provided his recollection of the boy he saw growing up to become a fantastic person. Inspiration from BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ while showing Feluda’s prowess of deduction was necessary and Abir executed that smartly. Another act of brilliance was in keeping the entire image of the man a secret. It added a bit of mystery but was absolutely in tune with Satyajit Ray’s idea of Feluda. P.C. Mitter was a middle-class working individual with a heightened intellect and that person can exist in any family. Few understand the finer concepts and it is always good to see a young director applying them in his creation.
The camerawork could have been a bit better though. The cinematographer Anirban Choudhury is an extremely talented individual but some of his shots were unnecessary and didn’t quite fit in with the narrative of ‘Feluda Utthan’. The ‘acting’ should have been a bit more convincing given the fictional documentary style of the film. Being theatrical certainly goes against the norms of such a production.
The few minor glitches aside, Abir Roy and his team paid a perfect homage to the character we all love. His traits were strewn across all novels and quite a bit of research was required to join all the dots. The familiar musical theme and the creative background music by Aviman Paul added to the brilliance of the short film. Production Designer Kaushani Ganguly must also be credited for the intricate detailing and doling out a couple of Easter eggs along the way; the Satyajit Ray salutation and the Rubik Cube etching.
‘Feluda Utthan’ is a must watch for all the lovers of the detective. Abir Roy has set a certain standard for himself and for his team. The indie circuit will be waiting expectantly for his next project. In the meantime, arm yourself with a bit of ‘Mogojastro’.
Haven’t watched it yet. Check out the link below.
The author is a software engineer at Infosys and a passionate film and football buff, with a special interest in deciphering the literature behind the movies.