Feluda should be made in classical format, says Sandip Ray

Sandip Ray. Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

#Feluda, #SandipRay, #SatyajitRay, #IndraneilSengupta

IBNS-CMEDIA: After the reasonable success of Hatyapuri, director Sandip Ray brings back his same core team in Nayan Rahasya, the cinematic adaptation of maestro Satyajit Ray’s Feluda novel of the same title. IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh interacts with Sandip Ray on casting Indraneil Sengupta as Feluda for the second consecutive time, shooting in Chennai, Satyajit Ray (whose 103rd birth anniversary is on May 2, 2024) and more.. Read..

Q. You went ahead with the Hatyapuri core team in Nayan Rahasya. How was your experience in Chennai?

A. My experience in Chennai has always been good. I had to travel back and forth as my health deteriorated. I always enjoy working in Chennai, which has remained my favourite place to shoot. The city is very technically sound and now it has turned out to be a very technically advanced place to shoot. The shooting for Nayan Rahasya went on very smoothly, if I discount my health deterioration (laughs). The locations like Mahabalipuram (a city in Tamil Nadu), Snake Park (in Chennai) have remained very interesting.

Baba (father in English) was doing a documentary on Balasaraswati (Bharatnatyam dancer) for which we travelled a lot in South India. That was the first time we visited Mahabalipuram. We were amazed! It’s a fantastic place to visit. In fact it was after that visit, Baba incorporated Mahabalipuram in Nayan Rahasya.

Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSImage by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Q. Did Hatyapuri acceptance give you confidence to bring back the new trio?

A. There is always an uncertainty whether the new team will be accepted by the audience or not. After a reasonable acceptance by the audience in Hatyapuri, I felt like venturing into another work with them. I worked with Abhinav (child actor in Nayan Rahasya) during the Hatyapuri shoot. I was very impressed by Abhinav’s intelligence. Not only is his appearance interesting but he is technically very conscious, a rare trait in such a young boy. After Hatyapuri was reasonably accepted by the audience, I wasted no time but jumped into Nayan Rahasya otherwise I would have missed this ideal age of Abhinav for the role.

Q. So you mean, Abhinav was a major reason behind doing Nayan Rahasya right after Hatyapuri?

A. Yes, yes. Abhinav’s age played a role, of course. If the trio were not accepted, I probably would not have thought of it only. I wanted to solidify this trio in the audience’s mind. Probably, I won’t make any other Feluda over the next 1-1.5 years. I might work on other short stories, which I love a lot. I will plan accordingly.

Q. Did you have any kind of discussion with Satyajit Ray on Nayan Rahasya during his days?

A. The first chapter of Nayan Rahasya was Baba’s kind of explanation after he received letters claiming Feluda was missing its usual charm. Much like Sherlock Holmes, Baba had to write a lot in Feluda. He had no such plan. He wanted it to get published in Desh and Sandesh (magazines) in alternate years. But he had to write 3-4 Feluda stories due to the increase in demand. Baba was also getting tired of writing because there is a limit to writing about crimes when it comes to a book for children. He used to wonder what more can be solved by Feluda (smiles). But Baba was very satisfied with writing Nayan Rahasya.

Q. Do you feel Feluda is being overused in films in recent times?

A. I don’t think it’s too much. Big screens have their own magic. I find it irritating when people ask about Feluda’s television premiere dates because I make films for theatres. I believe the theatre experience should come first. The charm of big screens can’t be felt on television ever, I believe.

Q. Do you believe the authenticity of Feluda gets diluted when too many actors essay it?

A. I don’t think so, if enough space is given. The same trend is very much present in international films. I don’t think the characters get saturated. Big screens have their own charm. The making of too many films is inevitable if the fictional sleuth is such a giant. I feel the frequency of making such films should be under check. In fact, a lot of people should try out Feluda as well. Why only me? Let time decide which one excels. I haven’t opened up the rights of Shonku (Professor Shonku) yet. I have given short stories but not in Bengali.

Q. Indraneil Sengupta himself had approached you for Feluda casting. What made you choose him to play the sleuth?

A. He had approached me for the first time in around 2014-15. I didn’t see him at that time. I have always been a fan of his acting, both in Bengali and Hindi films. But when he approached me, he didn’t have the physical maturity to play Feluda but I enjoyed interacting with him. When we met later, I felt it was the right time to cast him as Feluda. I just had to mould him into the role.

Another very interesting aspect was the fact that Indraneil was keen to play Feluda, much like Sabyasachi (Sabyasachi Chakraborty), who was a die-hard fan of the sleuth. It is very important. If an actor is keen to play a role, he would give his cent percent to it. I had just asked Indraneil to brush up on his English. Otherwise, Indraneil is fluent in all three languages like Feluda. Indraneil was very careful of his Bengali fluency.

Q. How much do you keep modernism in mind while making Feluda in the 21st century?

A. I believe a retro feel should exist in Feluda to some extent to maintain the flavour of the story. I feel Feluda should be made in a classical format because of the existing benchmark. Anyways, it would be impossible to replicate the exact feel of Feluda because all Indian cities have changed completely since the time Ray wrote the stories. It would require a huge budget to totally replicate it. Keeping up with modernism, we have introduced mobile phones to infuse technology without hampering or distorting the story.

Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSImage by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Q. Often, it is questioned about the absence of female characters in Feluda. Do you believe certain tweaks should be made to introduce female characters while making Feluda onscreen?

A. I don’t think it’s necessary, else the storyline gets altered. I don’t wish to bring female characters, honestly. I also wonder whether it’s actually needed. Even women won’t agree to this view, I guess (laughs). If women too wanted female characters, they would have disowned Feluda a long time ago (laughs).

Q. In the book The Inner Eye, Satyajit Ray expressed how you had to face difficulty because of your family background in younger days. How did that phase influence you as a filmmaker?

A. It didn’t influence me, actually. It is true that the particular period was very volatile. We had faced certain unfortunate incidents. But it didn’t affect me much. We didn’t have to think of it much because Baba, who was completely in good health, was packed with his works.

(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)