Bengali literature, cinema, and television entertainment have no dearth of detectives. Our witty tiktikis include Feluda, Byomkesh, Kakababu, Mitin Mashi, Kiriti, Pandob Goyenda, and many more. Amidst these popular names, some of the fictional the identity of some of the gumshoes have been lost. Speaking of such forgotten Bengali detective characters, the name of Ekendra Sen, a.k.a. Eken Babu needs to be mentioned.
Sujan Dasgupta’s Eken Babu is a name lost among the crowd of sharp and debonaire Bengali detective characters.
We first read about Eken Babu in the 90s, when his adventure, Manhattan-e Moonstone, was published in the Anandamela Patrika. In this tale, we came to know of a thin, awkward detective in the foreign land of Manhattan. He was just the right fit as a new children’s favourite, and his description read a little like Ghona Da. Dasgupta’s Eken is thin, with a head full of unkempt hair, and he is unimpressively clothed. He loves to smoke. He is witty, yet awkward. After this, there were more adventures of Eken for us. While the initial ones were for children, the novels that came later were for adult readers.
Fast forward to 2018.
Feluda, Byomkesh, and Kakababu are the bigshots in the sleuth industry of Bengal.
Enter Eken Babu.
Your first glance at him will remind you of Feluda’s friend, Laal Mohan Babu, i.e. Jatayu, with the same matha bhora taak, round face, and a misti smile on the face. He doesn’t really match his literary description, in terms of his physical description. However, he does have a sweet-as-saccharine, silly-as-a-goose nature that’s mildly annoying, and he loves to smoke, just like in the books. And, he is just as witty.
This is the Eken Babu we saw in a web series, on the Bengali video streaming platform, Hoichoi. His first story, Manhattan-e Moonstone, was adapted for the platform and turned into a tale set in contemporary Bangalore. It was narrated in ten episodes. We hear that Eken Babu is all set to hit Hoichoi soon, with a new story. Actor Anirban Chakrabarti presents a man who can very well be mistaken as a chaposha Bangali, a Shorkari kormochari who’s happily stuck in a nine-to-five job. If Bob Biswas was not who he was, he could very well have been Eken Babu.
Hoichoi, now a one-year-old toddler, is in its formative years. And, the Bangali viewers, who obviously have great expectations from this platform, are waiting to see something fresh here. Undoubtedly, Eken Babu has proven to be a fresh web series with an interesting concept, as well as great potential.
What remains to be seen is how popular Eken Babu will be.
Will he become a household name, and brush shoulders with the other Bengali detective characters like Byomkesh, Feluda, and Kakababu?
With memes on Eken Babu all around, it can be said that he is nothing like the hot Bong in the shawl, the tough and desirable goyenda with the gun, or the bearded archaeologist turned adventurer with a crutch. Anirban Chakrabarti brings to life an Eken who is a common man. This Eken is real and relatable. He is a simple, nondescript person. But there’s no doubt that Eken Babu’s intelligence and fighting style are absolutely remarkable; so are his adventures. There’s no doubt that Eken Babu is one of the shows that Bengal’s growing OTT industry can be proud of.