Friday, 12 August 2016

Satyajit Ray on Death Penalty

The Complete Adventures of Feluda, Vol. 2The Complete Adventures of Feluda, Vol. 2 by Satyajit Ray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had read the first volume in SRFTI three years ago and had totally loved it. I wanted to go to all the places Ray had mentioned in the book and make sketches of them. I wanted to do the same after reading Amitav Ghosh's 'Calcutta Chromosome'. Neither of the plans happened. This time too when i read the book that was the first instinct i had. Don't know if my procrastination goddess will be kind enough to me.

Anyway the major difference i saw was that Ray's stories started deteriorating in quality towards the end of the book. He even has a chapter in which Feluda got too many mails from his fans saying his stories had ceased to be interesting.

This time i have decided to make a list of places to be visited here in the review itself so that i can look it up even after i leave SRFTI. It's a library book and i am sure is too expensive for me to buy for myself.

Anyway i will have to make another list for places outside Calcutta that the trio visit in these tales. I hope by then i have money to travel to those lands.
Starting by Quoting some interesting portions because i felt Satyajit Ray was talking against capital punishment through these words. It's Mr Mallik, the judge, who says it.

Peril in Paradise.
'Do you hold seances only to reassure yourself?' Feluda asked.
'Partly. Do you know what I really think? Sometimes I seriously wonder whether one man has any right at all to send another to his death.'
'What about murderers? I mean real criminals, not people like Raaut. Shouldn't they be punished?'
'Of course. They may be given long and hard prison sentences, but death? No, I no longer think that's fair. Everyone-even criminals-should be given the chance to mend their ways.'

The conversation Feluda has with Lalmohan Babu after this is also really interesting. While Feluda represents an 'intelligent' person Lalmohan Babu is supposed to be a 'layperson'.

We said good night and returned to our boat. Feluda said only one thing before going to bed: 'I cannot really agree with Mr Mallik's views. If a murder is committed, then the killer-the real killer, of course-should not be spared. If he has taken a life, he has no right to live. I think age and illness have both affected Mr Mallik's mind. But this has been known to happen to other judges. I suppose it's natural enough'
'Just think Felu Babu,' Lalmohan Babu observed, 'how much power a judge is given. One stroke of his pen can take or save a life. Surely anyone with a conscience and a sense of responsibility will wish to use this power only with extreme caution?'
'Yes you are absolutely right.'

What was not written, in my opinion is just a line which stated the obvious which is that it is impossible to ensure that only people 'with a conscience and a sense of responsibility' will use this power.

Later another character,
Vijay shook his head emphatically. 'My father has become senile,' he said. 'He keeps talking about withdrawing the death penalty. Can you imagine allowing a murderer to get away with his crime? What could be more unfair?'

Vijay went to a college in Calcutta called Scottish Church

Mr Sarkar used to work in an insurance company-
'...Universal Insurance. The office is at 5 Pollock Street in Calcutta.'

The Mysterious Tenant:
We live in Ballygunj Park. Our house is nearly eighty years old. My grandfather built it. We were once zamindars in Bangladesh. My grandfather moved to Calcutta in 1890, and began ,aking chemical instruments. We had a large shop in College Street.

7/1 Ballygunj Park is the exact address in the book.
In the other flat, that faces the rear of the house, there's Mr Sukhwani. he has an antiques shop in Lindsay Street'

Want to quote this portion from the story because it is so cinematic. From time to time you see Ray doing such cinematic tricks and it is fun to watch because it is coming from a genius filmmaker.
The light suddenly went out. Loadshedding...
...Subir Dutta returned, followed by Koumudi, who was carrying a candle. Once it was placed n the centre table, every face became visible again. Two yellow points began glowing on Nihar Datta's dark glasses: the flame on the candle.

Within three minutes we were in Southern Avenue, flagging down a taxi.

The main road was dug up, so it was highly likely that the scooters would go don Lansdowne Road

We saw the three scooters near the Elgin Road crossing.

We passed Lower Circular Road and Camac Street. Upon reaching Park Street, they turned left.

The scooters went down Mirza Ghalib Street, and then turned left again. Marquis Street.

As we passed the building, I realized it was not an ordinary house but a hotel. It was called The New Corinthian Lodge. New? The building was at least a hundred years old.

The Criminals of Kathmandu
'Nowhere in this country,' said Lalmohan Babu-alias Jayatu-in an admiring tone, 'will you find a market like our New Market!'

We were now standing opposite New Market, having just seen Ape and Superape
'Come to Central Avenue, Central Hotel. Room number 23. All will be revealed.'

Lalmohan Babu turned up the day before we were toleave to say that he had seen the 'fake' Mr batra near Lenin Sarani, having a glass of lassi.

I came across a very interesting passage where Feluda and Co. are in Kathmandu and are trying out their food.

Lalmohan Babu peered at the menu and asked, 'What is mo-mo?'
'It's meat balls in sauce, sir,' the waiter replied.
'It's a Tibetan dish,' Feluda told him. 'Try it, Lalmohan Babu. When you go back to Calcutta, you can tell your friends you ate the same thing as Dalai Lama.'

Interesting because now in Kolkata there is a mo-mo shop in every nook and corner and it is very popular. At that time, Lalmohan Babu had not even heard of such a thing in Calcutta. After some time we see

Our food arrived. 'Delicious!' said Lalmohan Babu, tasting his mo-mo. 'I must get the recipe from somewhere. I have an excellent cook back home who, I'm sure, could make it for me. Six months of consuming this stuff and one is bound to start looking distinguished.'

This portion makes me think that it was in fact, Lalmohan Babu and his cook who introduced mo-mo in Kolkata.

Napolean's Letter

Today, we were at the Hobby Centre at the corner of Park Street and Russel Street.

The traffic got better only after we reached VIP Road. By the time we got to Barasat, it was nearly half past ten

Tinkori Babu's pet shop which Lalmohan Babu used to visit.
'Did you know the Parsis have been living in Calcutta for two hundred years?'
'What! You mean right from the time of Siraj-ud-daula? No, I certainly did not know that.'
'We are going to visit an ancient Parsi household today. Their address is . . .' Feluda took out a notebook from his pocket and consulted it, '. . . 133/2 Bowbazar Street.'

From Bowbazar Street, we made our way to the new theatre, Nobo Rangamanch, in Cornwallis Street.

'The first indigo factory was built in Barasat,' Mr Datta told us. 'If you ever come this way in daylight, you'll be able to see broken old houses in which the British owners of these factories used to live.'

Madhumurali Deeghi is behind all these trees.

Tintoretto's Jesus
On Tuesday, 28 September 1982, a taxi drew up in front of the house of the Niyogis in Baikunthapur. The Niyogis had once been the zamindars in the area.
Did a search for the flower Hasnuhana mentioned in this chapter. Landed up here

I could smell Hasnuhana as I took a chair, which meant that there was a garden behind the verandah, but I could see nothing in the dark.

Found a line about Kolkata which is true even now. In Hong Kong, Tapesh says,
Our car moved slowly in the traffic, giving us the chance to take in everything. I had seen crowded streets in Calcutta enough times, but everyone there moved slowly, as if they had all the time in the world.

This time, however, we were not going to travel very far. Mecheda was only a few miles from Calcutta.

The Disappearance of Ambar Sen

5/1 Palm Avenue
If you wish Ambar Sen to be restores to you in one piece, get twenty thousand rupees in hundred-rupee notes, put it all in a bag and leave the bag by a pillar on the south-eastern side of Princep Ghat, at 6.30 p.m tomorrow (Friday).

The Gold Coins of Jehangir
'I'd like you to visit my house here in Panihati. It is by the Ganges. It's about a hundred years old and is called Amaravati.'

Lalmohan Babu's house is in Gorpar.

Crime in Kedarnath
Some lines i liked,
Dawn had only just started to break. The streetlights were still on, looking more apologetic than ever.

We walked on, as quickly as we could, trying to hide whenever possible behind boulders and small hills. It was a shade brighter now, but there was no noise anywhere. It seemed almost as if nature was waiting with bated breath for something extraordinary to happen.

The Acharya Murder Case

Our office[Bharat Opera's] is in Muhammed Shafi Lane, which is just off Beadon Street.

There is a little lane behind the house called Jodu Naskar Lane.

Through another window in Mr Mallik's room one could get a view of the lane that ran behind the house. It was called Jodu Naskar Lane, I remembered.

I looked it up in the telephone directory and discovered it was in Suresh Mallik Street.

The Case of the Apsara Theatre

I made the phone call and then we took a taxi. Apsara Theatre was in Shyambazar

Jaganmoy Battacharya's address
The young man returned in a couple of minutes wirth the address: 27 Nirmal Bose Street. Lalmohan Babu said he knew where it was. Apparently, it wasn't far from Apsara.

'Sardar Shankar Road. Number eleven. It is the house of one Anup Sengupta. You can go and speak to him, if you like.'

Nepal Lahiri lived in
'Twenty-seven, Nakuleshwar Bhattacharya Lane.'

His friend whom he was going to see lived in
'It was mentioned in the press report. Moti Mistri Lane. That's where he was killed.'

Moti Mistry Lane turned out to be so narrow that we had to park our car outside on the main road.

Sudhendu Chakravarty, the new actor lived in Amherst Row

The Mystery of the Pink Pearl
'What is there to see in Sonahati?' asked Lalmohan Babu.
'Well according to this book I've been reading, called Travelling in Bengal,' Feluda replied, 'there ought to be an old Shiv temple and a large lake. I think it's called Mangal Deeghi. It was built by one of their zamindars. Even twenty years ago, Sonahati was little more than a village. Now it has a school, a hospital and even a hotel.'

Dr Munshi's Diary

'...Our address is 7 Swinhoe Street, and the house is called Munshi Palace.'

Arun Gupta lives at 11 Roland Road
George Higgins lives at 90 Ripon Street
Mr Mallik's address is Satish Mukherjee Road.

The Mystery of Nayan

To Lalmohan Babu Feluda says
'A cash memo of Ideal Stores in New Market is peeping out of the front pocket of your jacket.

A cinematic portion from the story.
Someone had left the TV on, but the sound had been switched off. People talked, laughed, cried, moved and jumped on the screen, in absolute silence. Strange bluish shadows, reflected from the TV screen danced endlessly on Mr Hingorani's dead face.

Robertsin's Ruby

In Bolpur
You can come to my house when your car gets here. Anybody in Pearson Palli will show you my house.

I received a call from a businessman in Dubrajpur.

...After we finish our business with Dandania, we could go and have a look at the terracotta temples in Dubrajpur and Hetampur. McCutcheon wrote about those.'

...we found ourselves in Uttarayan. Peter said he had never seen a building like it. 'It looks like a palace out of a fairy tale!' he exclaimed. Then we went to Udichi and Shyamali, which were as beautiful. Tom, I noticed, did not take out his camera even once, possibly because there was no evidence of poverty anywhere.

'Unbelievable! This is really incredible, isn't it?' Lalmohan Babu whispered. I found myself in full agreement. All that stretched before our eyes was an ocean of rocks. Stones and boulders of various shapes and sizes lay scattered on the ground, covering a total area of at least one square mile. Some lay flat, others on their side. Some were huge-as high as three-storeyed buildings-but others were relatively small. A few had large cracks running right across, possibly the result of an earthquake hundreds of years ago. It might have been a scene from prehistoric times. If a dinosaur had peeped out from behind a boulder, I would not have been surprised.

This was one of the sights Dubrajpur was famous for. We had already seen the well-known pair called 'Mama-Bhagney'.

Lalmohan Babu's version of the story.
'Well, when Hanuman was flying through the air with Mount Gandhamadan on his head, some rocks from the mountain fell here in Dubrajpur.'

Feluda's version
'...the story I read in my guide book is different. According to it, it was Ram who had dropped these stones here accidentally, when he was gathering stones to build a bridge across the ocean.'

Peter and Tom joined us, and we set off for Hetampur, which was famous for its terracotta temples. The carvings on these enthralled Peter, particularly that of a European lady on a temple wall. It was two hundred years old, we were told.

There was a mela in Kenduli when Feluda and Com. visited.
The fair at Kenduli was being held at a temple built two hundred and fifty years ago, by the Maharani of Burdwan.

They watched a Santhal dance at Phulberey village.
The ponds had names there. One was called Soubhagya Kunda.

Shatadal Sen happened to be free, and offered to take us to see a village by the river Kopai, which Tagore used to watch and admire. I had seen villages and rivers before but there was something about Kopai, and the village called Goalpara that touched my heart and lifted my spirits instantly.

They go to the police station in Dubrajpur.

The Magical Mystery

Someshwar Burman's house-a massive affair-was in Rammohan Roy Sarani

Mr Burman's son has an auction house in Mirza Ghalib Street called the Modern Sales Bureau.

So yes, that's the list of names i have made. Would like to see what each of these places look like now. Some of them are places i have already been to. Some are yet to be explored.

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