By Debdyuti Roy
Other than our fascination with monkey caps and fish, what we Bengalis are most frequently typecasted how we take our literature very, very seriously. And this one is truly a pretty spot on.
Literature is our religious conviction. We are, binge reading whatever we will lay our eyes on, and considering the vast array of brilliant fictional works that are written in Bangla, we seriously are spoilt for choice.
From hilarious comic strips, science-fiction, adventure-travel, murder mysteries – Bengali literature traverses all genres. Here is a list of the foremost popular and iconic characters in Bangla fiction which is able to haul at our heartstrings with a sense of nostalgia.
- Feluda, Satyajit Ray:
Bengal’s very own character, the image of brooding hottie Prodosh Mitter smoking his Charminar cigarettes, while going about unravelling mysteries is one that induces happiness without fail. Feluda’s whip smart demeanour and lively personality, while he’s constantly performing on his ‘Mogojastro’, makes him the super sleuth we Bangali’s worship and can do so for ages to come.
- Ghana Da, Premendra Mitra:
No. 72, Banamali Naskar Lane is identical with Ghana Da’s jaunt, and his storytelling ventures. Ghana Da is author Premendra Mitra’s creation, who describes tales of his travels across the world to tackle sinister bad-guys and international conspiracies. Premendra Mitra’s brilliant narration in Ghana Da’s voice could be a fantastic trip, with unique stories that range from science-fiction to historical conspiracies, fuelled by tonnes of action and adventure.
- Apu, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay:
Pather Panchali, the primary of the Apu Trilogy, follows the childhood years of Apu, the central character around whom Bibhutibhushan weaved a number of the foremost intricate coming-of-age tales. he’s the epitome of innocence. Eyes brimming with wonder, Apu incorporates a fantasized vision of the globe, finding magic within the most mundane of things, despite his circumstances. Apu-Durga’s childlike innocence and also the sequence where they run through the Kaash Bon to look at a train pass is far and away one amongst the foremost heart-warming and euphoria-inducing moments in literature.
- Nonte Phonte, Narayan Debnath:
Bengal’s comic aficionado Narayan Debnath has been a household name for us Bong kids. Oh, the thrill his delightfully funny comic strips would bring! We’ve all grown up lapping up the everyday ventures of this hilariously awkward pair of troublemakers. Originally serialized for the children’s monthly magazine Kishore Bharati, Nonte Phonte focuses on the amusing antics of the protagonists and their lives during a private school.
- Kakababu, Sunil Gangopadhyay:
First appearing within the Anandamela Pujo Barshiki in 1979, the adventures of Kakababu, Shontu and Jojo are paying homage to the Feluda series. Unravelling crimes while walking on crutches, Raja Roy Chowdhury aka Kakababu is one badass private detective. He travels across the country to trace criminals down, with a bunch of eager, sharp witted youngsters in lurch.
- Sukhen, Samaresh Basu:
Samaresh Basu’s novel Prajapati was first published in 1967 amid a furor of controversy. an ideal commentary on modern society, Prajapati’s plot unfolds with the motif of a butterfly used as a metaphor for the protagonist’s life. Thanks to the very fact that the novel treated the theme of sexuality openly, its literary merit was questioned and was hailed as being explicit and it had been said that it could only have the effect of corrupting the morality of the reader. The Author and his publishers were charged under Section 292 of the Indian legal code on grounds of obscenity. These charges were later cleared by a judgment that lapsed the Supreme Court in favor of the Author, almost 17 years from the date of its first publication.
- Tenida, Narayan Gangopadhyay:
Another one in all Narayan Gangopadhyay’s popular creations, Bhojohori Mukherji aka Tenida could be a resident of Potoldanga in Kolkata. With a famously large nose, he’s well respected amongst his gang of boys, for his composure, courage, and honesty yet as his vociferous appetite, despite sometimes also playing the role of the neighborhood bully.
- Goopy Gyne and Bagha Byne, Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury:
Popularised by Satyajit Ray in his movie versions of the heart-warming story of the adventures of this pair of goofy instrumentalists, Goopy Gyne-Bagha Byne was formerly the creation of Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury, Satyajit Ray’s grandfather. Goopy and Bagha first made their advent in Sandesh magazine in 1915, complete with brilliant illustrations by Upendrakishore himself.
- Byomkesh Bakshi, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay:
It’s a point of pride as a Bangali if you’ve grown up reading Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s brilliantly intricate detective series. ‘Satyanweshi’ (the seeker of truth) Byomkesh and his partner Ajit became a cult in their title as they set about solving crimes with heaps of favour. Makorshar Rosh, Adim Ripu, Shajarur Kanta are some all-time favourites which can always stick with us.
- Srikanta, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay:
“As I sit all the way down to tell my story during this fading afternoon of my wandering life, I’m flooded with memories.” Thus, begins Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s lyrical novel. It’s a narration of the protagonist Srikanta – an aimless drifter, a passive spectator, as he unabashedly reminisces on the years gone by. Srikanta may be a simple man, a rare character and bold in his self-analysis. With Srikanta, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay set the example for socially conscious writing in modern Indian literature.
So plow ahead, rummage through your bookshelves and convey these classics to travel on a nostalgia trip. If you still have time, check out this list of Bengali cinemas that you must watch.
Sources: Penguin house, The Guardian, and BBC books