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Joi Baba Felunath: In Ray’s second Feluda film, the detective meets his archenemy during Durga Puja holidays

  • Published at 02:47 pm October 7th, 2019
Joi Baba Felunath
A scene from the film | IMDB

Every technical aspect of the film, including the high quality camerawork, the art direction, the cinematography, makes every frame seem like a painting

If you are wondering what film to watch during the Durga Puja holidays, then Joi Baba Felunath is a perfect film for you to help you enjoy the colourful festivities of Puja.  The film is based on the book of the same name, which is part of Satyajit Ray’s immortal creation, the Feluda series. 

In the film, detective Prodosh Chandra Mitra -more popularly known as Feluda- faces challenges, and meets his archenemy, Maganlal Meghraj in Benaras. 

Later, Maganlal was featured on a few more Feluda books. Maganlal had always created difficult challenges for Feluda, for which he became Feluda’s archenemy. Both in the film and book, Maganlal creates so many obstacles for Feluda in their first encounter, that the great Bangali detective promises either to take revenge or give up his profession.  

The mystic Benaras and its ambience were captured beautifully in the film. Ray wrote the screenplay of his film based on this book. He was also the music director of the film.  Every Feluda fan’s heart skips a beat when he or she listens to the Feluda theme music. 

Set in 1975, Feluda, along with his cousin Topshe, and their friend, thriller writer Lal Mohan Ganguly (also known as Jatayu), come to Benaras on a holiday during the Durga Puja. There they meet Umanath Ghoshal and his family.  Umanath requests Feluda to catch the thief who stole a valuable Ganesh idol, which has been with the Umanath family for years and has sentimental value. 

Around the same time, a mysterious sadhu (pious person), by the name of Machhli Baba, has arrived in the ghats of Benaras, claiming to have swam the holy river directly from Prayag all the way to Kashi. 

As the story unfolds it is revealed that Maganlal Meghraj is involved with smuggling and Machchli Baba to conduct illegal poaching of antiques. 

Each and every Feluda film contains beautiful details and scenario of various Indian locations. And just like any other Feluda film, Joi Baba Felunath is set in the age-old riverbanks of Kashi, and its winding lanes and by-lanes. Beautiful cinematography of the film captures the essence of India’s heritage in the middle of the twentieth century.

The opening scene of the film serves as a perfect setting for a detective thriller film. Simultaneously, the plot and location create a brilliant atmosphere for the mystery film. The buildings shown in Ray’s film were more than a hundred years old, which bring out an old-world charm and essence of Hinduism. 

In the film adaptation, some twists and the ending were changed to make the film more realistic. The audience get a film noir vibe in the scene of the poor sculptor getting stabbed. 

Every technical aspect of the film, including the high quality camerawork, the art direction, the cinematography, makes every frame seem like a painting. 

The acting performances are brilliant. Soumitra Chatterjee was brilliant as the smart detective Feluda. Utpal Dutt’s performance as Maganlal Meghraj is, of course, one of the outstanding features of the film. The way Utpal Dutt brought life to the character was simply mesmerizing.   

However, nobody can forget Santosh Dutta’s performance as the much-loved Jatayu. The iconic scene at Maganlal’s house is one of the most memorable in the history of cinema, as Jatayu’s nervous optimism, at being martyred, leads to a highly comical situation.

On the other hand, Feluda, of course, vows to avenge the insult to his friend which leads the audience to the thrilling climax of the film.

The film is a beautifully told narrative story, with all the ingredients to make it a perfect thriller while it brings back nostalgia, spirit of culture, and spiritualism. Satyajit Ray’s Joi Baba Felunath is another name among his illustrious work noted for the emotions, brilliance and great entertainment factors. 

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