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Feluda... back in action!

Sandip Ray, son of noted filmmaker Satyajit Ray, speaks to Roshmila Bhattacharya on his new film, Kailashey Kelenkari and how it's different from the original story.

regional movies Updated: Dec 19, 2007 17:19 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

Apparently, Kailashey Kelenkari (Killer in Kailash) has been shot in the Ellora caves.
That's right. In fact, it's been shot in three specific caves - cave 10 that houses the Kailash temple, cave 15 renowned for its Dusavatar and cave 29 that depicts Sita ki kahani. It was a 21-day-long schedule.

Baba (Satyajit Ray) had visited the caves back in the 1940s. He travelled by bullock cart from Aurangabad. (Smiles) I drove down 70 years later. But the sight of the Kailash temple also left me speechless.

Considering that Ajanta and Ellora are world heritage sites, getting permission to shoot in the caves must not have been easy?
I'd thought so too when my producers, T Sarkar and Innovative Multimedia, picked up this particular story from the Feluda series to film.

But the Archeological Survey of India is promoting Ellora as a tourist attraction. The go-ahead arrived in a week. Still, negotiating the stairs with all the cameras, lights, tracks and trolleys was difficult.

Have you made any changes in the original story?
Yes, we've updated it. You don't expect Feluda to get clues through trunk calls today, do you? The three main characters are the same but they're tougher.. grittier.

Life has changed since the '70s. Since I'm targeting today's generation, the action was fast-paced.

<b1>Weren't you working on another Feluda film, Tintorettor Jishu (Tintoretto's Jesus)?
I was. It's 80 per cent complete. We've shot in Kolkata, Jhargram and Chattisgarh. We will resume work in March-April.. the climax will be filmed in Hong Kong. We're hoping to release it next December.

Which was the first Feluda story you read?
The novella, Feludar Goendagiri, I must have been 12 then.

Which other Feluda stories would you want to adapt for the screen next?
I'm looking at Gorosthaney Sabdhan (Trouble in the Graveyard). It's an adventure travelogue and presents a side of Feluda we haven't seen before on screen.

Two other favourites are Royal Bengal Rahashya (The Royal Bengal Mystery) and Chinnamaster Abhishap (The Curse of the Goddess). But they would involve shooting with tigers. Acquiring permission from the Animal Welfare Board is tough though.

Satyajit Ray made his last Feluda film, Joi Baba Felunath, in '79. Why did it take you 23 years to bring the Indian Sherlock Holmes back on the big screen?
To be honest, I was apprehensive. Feluda was a saleable commodity but at the same time, I knew that if I erred, rejection would be instant. Joi Baba Felunath was a tough act to follow. Also, there were no takers. Bombaiyer Bombete was backed by Ramoji Rao. The film was a smash hit and this sparked off renewed interest in the subject.

Today, I'm being approached for the Hindi rights. Frankly, I'm not sure if a Feluda story would translate well in Hindi. The detective is so essentially Bengali. When Shashi Kapoor played him in the Hindi telefilm, though we got an encouraging response from across India, it was a complete no-no from West Bengal.

Soumitra Chatterjee, Shashi Kapoor or Sabyasachi Chakraborty.. who in your opinion is the best Feluda?

Soumitra was Satyajit Ray's Feluda.. we grew up on him. Shashi was fantastic too.. his wig was a problem though. In today's time, it's definitely Sabyasachi. It's scary because we're all getting old and I can't see anyone else who could fit into his shoes.

Have you thought of making a Feluda film in English or Hindi?

When two Bengalis meet, they'd never speak in anything but Bangla. An English language film would work only if we were in a place teeming with different nationalities. Then English could be the common language.

I'd rather sub-title the film and realese it. Even a one-week run at a couple of multiplexes would make it accessible to Feluda fans across the country and abroad.

Irrespective of whether it's a Feluda story or not, I'm interested in doing a Hindi film. I worked earlier with the cream of Mumbai's film industry.. it was a delightful experience.

Would your next film too be a Feluda story?
Nope. I'm working on a subject but it's too premature to talk about it.

Would you ever write a Feluda story of your own?
I wouldn't dare. Baba's style was very distinctive.. fluid and flawless. It would be too big a risk.