– By Ranjabati Ray.
“Please don’t call me a detective. Because I am a “Satyanweshi”, one who goes out in search of the truth.”- Byomkesh Bakshi, created by Saradindu Bandopadhyay.
Don’t these lines sound a bit similar to the words uttered by Sherlock Holmes when asked about what his profession was? He declared himself to be a “consulting detective”, declaring himself to be one of a kind, just like Byomkesh did with the lines mentioned above.
Bengali literature, as everyone deems it to be, is known and recognized majorly by Rabindranath Tagore and otherwise by romance and scenic beauty. But in this article, I would like to introduce to the readers a whole new genre of Bengali literature which is so much popular among Bengalis and yet quite unknown to the rest of the world.
Yes, if you haven’t guessed it, I am talking about the category of detective stories and novels. And before you start thing that ‘ What are you talking about? We know there is ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’, well people, here is some news for you, Byomkesh Bakshi is just the tip of the iceberg.
To start off, I would like to say here that I am a Bengali, and I am not at all proud to say this but yeah, my Bengali used to be quite weak because I only read English novels a major part of which was composed of fiction, mainly detective stories. Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Famouse Five, Secret Seven, you name it and I have read it.
So, after sometime, when I got a tad bit bored by the detective novels in English, my mom suggested that I should start off with some Bengali novels as well, just to give it a go. So, later that day, I took my first shot at reading a detective story in Bengali which was incidentally, the easiest one of them all, Feluda. And seriously speaking, I was exposed to a whole new world.
Gone were the inhibitions that only detectives in English novels could be cool and intelligent. As a matter of fact, it was not at all so. Because seriously speaking, English novels only gave me an insight into their world. But, Bengali detectives helped me come nearer to my home, they helped me realise the rich culture that is India and that Indian detectives are not merely hired by spouses to spy on their better half.
No, because Feluda and Kakababu taught me that Sherlock Holmes is not the only one who can expose a crime by exploring the various types of cigarette ashes. Shankar, another detective made us travel throughout the world and especially his adventures in the story “Chander Pahar”or the “Mountain of the Moon” which was based on Mt. Kilimanjaro will remain magical as ever.
There is professor Shanku (or Shonku) whose quirky discoveries and their following adventures could put Professor Calculus (from Tintin) to shame. And of course there is Tarini Khuro (Tarini, the old man) whose adventures with the paranormal are so well-written that one might almost believe them to be true.
Bengali detective novels had opened a new gateway for me which was really awesome because, they were more relatable and the imagination after reading them were much more vivid because the backgrounds on which they are based are known to me, I can find a familiarity with them.
So guys, I would just like to say that, I know, Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie novels can be really exciting and plot-twisting but do try and give our Indian detective characters a chance.
And oh yeah, one more thing, in case you are wondering, yes English translations of all of them are available. So I really hope, you give them a try.
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