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Fedula Pherot Season 1 Review: A tribute to the heritage of Feluda from an ardent Feluda fan!

Saugata Bhattacharya

Srijit Mukherji’s Feluda Pherot is a smartly executed adaptation of an outstandingly written material. The story for this very first season of the series is based on Satyajit Ray’s original story Chinnomastwar Obhishap. Unlike his previous two films, Mukherji (both the writer and the filmmaker) has lived up to my expectations.

The story which is set at Hazaribagh in the 1970s begins when the iconic sleuth Feluda (Tota Roy Chowdhury) goes on a vacation to the enchanting hills of Hazaraibagh along with his sidekicks Jatayu (Anirban Chakraborty) and Topshe (Kalpan Mitra). And like all the other Feluda novels, the mystery follows his ways and this time, it knocks the door of the private investigator when Feluda and company encounter the family of a famous elderly lawyer, Mahesh Chowdhury (Dhritiman Chatterji) and come to know about the escape of a Royal Bengal Tiger named Sultan.

Feluda is not only one of the most iconic characters in the rich history of Bengali literature, but also an unabated part of the Bengali emotions. And whenever one, specifically a Bengali thinks of watching an audiovisual presentation of Feluda, the immortal persona of Soumitra Chatterjee or the sparkling debonair of Sabyasachi Chakraborty automatically appears on his/her mind. Being a millennial, I have been grown up watching the Sandip Ray’s Feluda films and liked it as it used to provide genuine delectation. But Srijit Mukherji has done something what Vishal Bharadwaj does with the Shakespearean dramas. Mukherji has invented a new style by following the minute details of the core text and pouring cinematic colors to the pencil sketches. The fantastic performances from the outstanding primary cast have concreted his vision of an authentic adaptation. Tota Roy Chowdhury who is vastly overexposed in the television due to his daily- soap has done a wonderful work as Feluda through adapting the mannerisms and most importantly the use of eyes of the character. Sometimes, too much preparation and cautiousness of the actor may diminish the intensity and spontaneity of the performance. And it is quite evident from Tota Roy Chowdhury’s taut looks and strongly pronounced dialogues. Anirban Chakraborty as Jatayu has done a decent job without caricaturing anything. The most important trait of Topshe’s character is his innocence and Kalpan Mitra who exactly looks like Ray’s first illustration of the character has this natural innocence both in his looks and in his performance. Dhritiman Chatterji as Mahesh Chowdhury has not got the deserved balls to hit a big score. None from the rest of the cast has brought anything unique on the table except Rishi Kaushik. He has done a fantastic job as the tough reticent yet brooding ringmaster.

It is not at all easy to make a screenplay adaptation out of a Ray story as it has so many broad scenarios to be covered. But Mukherji has done a commendable job as he has treated the whole project from the perspective of an avid lover of the story, of the characters, of the book. He has taken a lot of the dialogues directly from the original story. The story itself is so powerful and engaging that it keeps the audiences’ attention throughout all the six episodes but it is Mukherji’s execution that makes the visuals so charming. Supriyo Dutta’s lenses have made the landscapes, drone-shots and other sequences picturesque and Debojyoti Ghosh’s beautiful grading has given them the authentic period look. My favorite shot of the film is when Rishi Kaushik raises the curtain and walks in the central stage of the circus following by his multiple shadows and we see the whole scene from a long drone-shot. These threads of well composed shots have been aptly knotted by Editor, Pronoy Dasgupta. Srijit Mukherji has even taken long shots of conversions to showcase the intricate details in Tanmoy Chakraborty’s impeccable production designing. Mukherji has left no stone unturned to get the ‘look and feel’ right. Sabarni Das’s precise costumes and Moloy Mukherjee’s accurate make up have helped Srijit to recreate the illustrations perfectly from the book. When you are watching a cinema on a silent movie theater, you are compelled to listen to every single meaningful silence and sounds of the sequences in the film because a dark and silent theatre is capable of doing that magic. And that magic cannot be recreated by the screens of your Laptops, Smart TVs, and Mobiles. That’s why Joy Sarkar’s soothing background score which has been used almost in each and every sequence tries to create a dramatic effect which may trigger the audiences’ attention and Anindit Roy’s and Adeep Singh Manki’s sound designing makes all of the dialogues more clear and loud rather artificially to lessen the natural noise outside. I have not felt uncomfortable watching the use of the VFX in the series as I have found it far better than the visual effects of the Bengali film which had the biggest budget.

Comparison in art is done to trace out the similarities and disparities between two different artistic works which have been originated from the same source. Cinematic presentation of Feluda has been done and will be done by various filmmakers in various platforms. In the first season of Feluda Pherot, Srijit Mukherji has equally used his ‘MOGOJ’ (intellect) and his ‘ASTRO’ (technical brilliance) to capture the delicate innocence of the literary work.

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Alternate Take presents a new pitstop for fresh , unbiased and hopefully perceptive thoughts on cinema. We are trying to create and build a community of critics , and sustain a exchange and dialogue between established, prominent critics and aspiring young critics.

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A space for reviews, retrospectives, analyses, interviews around all things cinema, standing left of the field.

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