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INDIA
1994

Satyajit Ray
1921-1992

Feluda


January 11, 1994
se-tenant pair: Ray with Oscar, Pather Panchali scene
Scott #1476-77, SG #1567-68, 6r, 11r, perf 13

For a biography of Ray, see
Satyajit Ray - The Inner Eye
by Andrew Robinson
(Andre Deutsch, London, 1989)

Satyajit Ray

Though in the West he is best known as an Oscar-winning film-maker, Satyajit Ray's reputation in India extends to a great many other spheres. Besides being an artist (his portrait of Rabindranath Tagore appears on the 1961 Indian stamp commemorating his birth centenary (Scott #341), and he designed the Ray Roman type-face), he was a prolific short story writer, with over a dozen volumes to his credit.
Between 1965 and 1992, Ray wrote a total of thirty-five Feluda stories (in Bengali, his native language), featuring the master sleuth Pradosh C. Mitter (aka Feluda), his assistant Topshe, and Lalmohan Babu (alias Jatayu), a bumbling writer of crime fiction. The locales range from Gangtok and Varanasi to Jaisalmer and Ellora, apart from Feluda's home town of Calcutta. The plots involve murder, intrigue and adventure, narrated in a racy, humorous style.
The exploits of Feluda, (The Complete Adventures of Feluda, translated by Gopa Majumdar and Chitrita Banerji, 2 vols., Penguin Books, 2000), were avidly followed by the public, and this much-beloved super-sleuth was featured in two of Ray's films — The Golden Fortress [Sonar Kella] (1974), and The Elephant God [Joi Baba Felunath] (1978).

Sonar Kella [The Golden Fortress]

[Feluda: Soumitra Chatterjee, Jatayu (the crime writer): Santosh Dutta]

Feluda, Jatayu, and Mukul set out on their search through the desert.

Ten-year-old Mukul, haunted by his past life, gets up at night and draws pictures of royalty and treasure. Dr. Hazra, a parapsychologist, decides to take him to Rajasthan to see the forts, hoping to induce a cure. But bad men follow them to get their hands on the treasure. Can Feluda protect them?


Feluda (right) and Jatayu at a palace in Rajasthan.

Feluda and Rajasthani villagers.

Joi Baba Felunath [The Elephant God]

[Feluda: Soumitra Chatterjee, Jatayu (the crime writer): Santosh Dutta,
Topshe: Siddhartha Chatterjee, Ruku: Jit Bose]

Ray (left) rehearses Jatayu, Feluda (center), Topshe and Ruku.

Feluda (second from left) and his team make their plans.

Jatayu stands up to the villain's hired knife thrower.


[Satyajit Ray also appears on a se-tenant pair issued by Dominica in 2000,
commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Film Festival]
Thanks to Mohan V. Raman for suggesting this and supplying most of the material,
and to Mosharaf Husain, for locating a copy of the stamps for me!

More on Feluda here, and here.



steve@trussel.com