27 years ago, on the 23rd of April, the entire Bengal broke down to know that their beloved Manik Da was gone. For the world, Satyajit Ray is one of the greatest filmmakers. For Bangalis, he is the reason children and young adults take to detective stories and science fiction. Yes, Satyajit Ray, as an author, has left a remarkable treasure-chest for Bengalis. On World Book Day, let’s celebrate the books by Satyajit Ray which are a must-read for everyone.
World Book Day: Must-Read Books by Satyajit Ray for Everyone
When Ray used to work at Signet Press as an illustrator and designed book covers, he was heavily inspired during the designing of Aam Antir Bhepu, the children’s version of Pather Panchali. It is fair to say that one of the best filmmakers of the 20th century made his directorial debut with a film based on a book. He himself wrote several books, mostly for young adults, as well as about films. And, these books can be a good read for bookworms of different age groups. Let’s take a look at some of the must-read Satyajit Ray books.
Reading about the journey of Pradosh Chandra Mitter, aka Feluda, living in 21 Rajani Sen Road in Ballyginge, from a banker to a private detective, is usually how Bangalis develop a love for detective stories. Felu Mittir is witty and sophisticated, and – based on Ray’s sketches of him – looks very much like Ray himself. The unpretentious stories of this young man in his late twenties, with his accomplices Topshe and Lalmohan Babu, entertain generations of readers.
2. Professor Shonku
While others have written science fiction in Bengali before Ray, Professor Trilokeshwar Shanku has a very special place for Bengalis. Shanku, a scientist living in Giridih, works in his own lab in his house and comes up with the most astounding items. His adventures help him find the secrets in the world of science. Sometimes, he travels the world with fellow scientists, Saunders, Krol, and Summerville; and, sometimes, he just finds something incredible hidden in his neighbourhood.
3. Tarini Khuro
Tarini Charan Bandopadhyay, i.e., Tarini Khuro always opens his bag of stories when he meets young Paltu. As Paltu’s friends also gather at his house, Tarini Khuro narrates his experiences. And, they all have a supernatural touch! Yes, from possessed cricket bats to skeletons coming to life, from revenge to betrayal, Tarini Khuro’s stories are are unique, and so is Tarini Khuro’s style of storytelling. Ray has written 15 stories with this man in his sixties as the central character.
4. Jakhan Choto Chilam
Ray’s autobiography, Jakhan Choto Chilam, was first published in 1982. Later, it was translated to Childhood Days: A Memoir, by his wife, Bijoya Ray. This book not only gives a glimpse into the childhood of Satyajit Ray when he was growing up in Calcutta but also unveils the world of cinema, photography, and more, from the perspective of the only Oscar-winning film-maker in India. This is one of the must-read books by Satyajit Ray for everyone fascinated by Ray.
5. My Years with Apu: A Memoir
One of the greatest works of Ray is his first movie, Pather Panchali. He followed them up with Aparajito and Apur Sangshar, thus creating the Apu Trilogy. When he first tried to make the movie, Ray was unable to earn the faith of producers because of the unusual plot and treatment that he pitched. Even after the film came out, it took time for it to gain the attention of the film fraternity. My Years with Apu: A Memoir is Ray’s narration of his struggle and battle to create Apu Trilogy.
Ray’s books range from no-frills, entertaining works of fiction to his views of the cinema world. He has written a host of horror stories, as well as film criticisms and shooting experiences. And who can forget Banku Babur Bondhu, the story about an extraterrestrial being coming to earth and making friends with a human being? This story has inspired filmmakers into making science-fiction films, including Spielberg’s ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, which shows clear similarities with the script that Ray himself had written for a movie named The Alien, but failed to make. So, on World Book Day, and on this great man’s death anniversary, bookworms unanimously chant, “Moharaja, Tomare Selam!”