Bengali director Sandip Ray’s latest movie features one of Satyajit Ray’s best-known literary creations. Not the detective Feluda, but Professor Shonku, the scientist and eccentric genius who was introduced by Sandip Ray’s father in 1961.
Sandip Ray’s Professor Shonku O El Dorado is based on the story Nakur Babu O El Dorado, in which Shonku takes off on an adventure with a man who can see into the future and make people see things that are not immediately visible. Produced by leading Kolkata studio SVF, the movie will be shot in Bengal and Brazil, and is aiming for a release later this year.
Shonku, to be played by thespian Dhritiman Chatterjee, has never been filmed before, unlike Feluda, about whom several movies and television serials have been made. Inspired partly by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger and Hesoram Hushiar, a character created by Ray’s father Sukumar Ray, Shonku is every bit as fascinating as Feluda. He is a polyglot (he knows 69 languages), graduated from college at the age of 16, and started teaching when he was 20. Shonku works out of a laboratory at home where he uses locally available ingredients for his groundbreaking inventions. He keeps a low profile and refuses to share his formulas or inventions because he doesn’t want them to fall into the wrong hands. His main companions are his manservant, Prahlad, his cat Newton, and a talkative neighbour, Abinash Babu, who remains unimpressed by his scientific prowess.
“Professor Shonku is the most challenging project so far,” said Sandip Ray, who has filmed nearly all the characters from his father’s repertoire. “Not only because of the special effects that would be required, but also because the world of Shonku is richly detailed, his inventions tough to recreate.”