The iconic private eye Pradosh Kumar Mitter aka Felu da - a character created by legendary filmmaker, Oscar award winner and writer, Satyajit Ray in his Bengali whodunits - has entered the animated, colourful world of comic books.
Felu da - who acquired cult following among young readers in West Bengal in the 1970s and 80s and later on screen - has been put together in comic book format by children's writer Subhadra Sengupta and illustrator Tapas Guha, both of whom are based here.
Two of the first lot of five books, "Beware in the Graveyard" and "A Bagful of Mystery", were published by Penguin Books-India this week and will be launched soon.
Three more books, "Murder By the Sea", "The Killer of Kathmandu" and "Danger in Darjeeling" will be published later this year.
"In 'A Bagful of Mystery', detective Feluda's client Dinanath Lahiri finds his bag replaced with an identical one on a train from Delhi to Kolkata. As Feluda comes in to investigate, the bag throws up complex mysteries. A rare manuscript or an artefact might have found its way into his bag," said text-writer Sengupta, outlining the stories.
"Beware in the Graveyard" revolves around a rare watch, which lies in an old grave at the Park Street cemetery in Kolkata.
"An antique watch dealer tries to steal it with the descendants of the dead man. The action packed search takes the private eye and his team through the streets of Kolkata," Sengupta said.
Feluda and his team, of course, shed their 70s garb and language.
"I have given him a contemporary look. His clothes are 21st century and in some of the books - which I am working on - he also uses the cellphone. His nephew, Topesh, speaks like a modern-day teenager and the language is today's. I was inspired by Satyajit Ray's son Sandip Ray's movies which had contemporised Feluda. But I did not touch the plots or the landmarks that he described in the book - though I have changed some locations to make it more visually appealing," Sengupta said.
"For instance, if the original book described the detective, Topesh and acolyte Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu seated in a room, I put them outside to make it easy for the illustrator," said Sengupta, who worked closely with illustrator Guha.
The duo - Sengupta and Guha - had been working on the comic strip since 2004. They took one year over each story.
"I tried to make illustrations colourful, smart and uncluttered. The style was absolutely mine. The figures were contemporary and I made the detective look young," Guha said.
"Comic book illustrations have become more realistic now - since the German animation artist Herge created Tintin. They are no more fun. There is no happy humour and the colours are flat and dark. The graphic novels that come from outside are dark - probably because of their lifestyles," Guha said.