Exploits of Satyajit Rays Prof Shonku now in English

first_imgStories of scientific exploits of the indomitable Professor Trilokeshwar Shonku, which have held readers spellbound for over five decades are now available in English. Prof Shonku, a character created by Satyajit Ray, is a globetrotting scientist and an eccentric genius and his stories open a completely new world of imagination.In The Mystery of Munroe Island and Other Stories, translated from Bengali by Indrani Majumdar and published by Puffin Classics, Prof Shonku is on an incredible world tour. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’During his course of travel, he confronts a daring doppelganger, undertakes an experiment to create pure gold, unravels the mystery of a scientist’s loss of memory and visits an unknown island to look for an amazing fruit, among other escapades.The Shonku stories first appeared in 1961 in Sandesh, a magazine for children that had been started by Ray’s grandfather Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury, in 1913. In 1916, it was taken over by Ray’s father Sukumar and in 1961 revived by Ray himself. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixIn all, Ray wrote and published 40 adventures —the last two appearing only as incomplete drafts. Out of these, 18 were written for the annual editions of “Anandamela”, another popular children’s magazine. Ray continued to write and captivate readers with the Shonku escapades for the next 30-odd years. So Shonku with a bunch of madcap characters try to find out what is the message in the mysterious papyrus found in Cairo and why did scientists go missing in the deep jungle of Congo. Or is there any truth about the sightings of the UFO and what happens when he takes an extraordinary animal to Koblenz in Germany. Prof Shonku is often accompanied on his sojourns by old friends. Saunders, Crole and Summerville, Nakur Chandra Biswas, his trusted servant Prahlad and his feline friend Newton.According to Majumdar, the Shonku stories offer a reader not just the suspense, thrill and excitement of the mysteries, but also present a wonderful travelogue across the world and the opportunity to study the scheming and devious mind of people in the garb of scientists, businessmen and ordinary citizens.“They take the reader to faraway yet imaginary lands while reiterating the eternal human values and emphasising right from wrong,” she says. Majumdar also wonders how Ray was able to give such accurate and graphic description of the countries and their cities as well as their life and culture at a time when there were no Google, Wikipedia or Google Maps.“Ray’s work is indeed a culmination of both hard work and research. He took the trouble to write to all the friends who lived in these distant cities he was planning to make Prof Shonku visit and talked to the local consulates and embassy officials for authentic information. He also procured maps, postcards and brochures of all these cities,” she writes. For veteran actor Victor Banerjee, Shonku’s worlds are an enthralling escape, a consummation, in a sea of troubles, devoutly to be wished. In the introduction to The Mystery of Munroe Island and Other Stories, he writes, “Worlds in which sailing ships sailed through Southern seas, in waters traumatised by Black Hole, Brandon the Pirate with a gouged-out hole for an eye, suddenly disappearing in the mysterious Bermuda waters with all hands on board, or flying to Tibet to hover over unicorns in Utopia, or where under the curse of an enraged fakir, Professor Shonku brings a dinosaur to life from its skeletal remains.” He says Ray “mesmerises you with extraterrestrial beings and potions and magic and inventions that are creations of a mind which dwelt in fantasies and romance that would one day produce Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, arguably the most successful film in Bengal?s fantastical box office history.”last_img

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