After a long prelude of high-powered promos, interviews and previews in the print media in Kolkata, Sandip Ray's second film in the Feluda series, Kailase Kelenkari, was the last release of 2007. Feluda is the nickname of Prodosh C. Mitter, a detective who combines his razor-sharp intelligence with his ready wit and action-packed antics to solve any crime — local, regional, national and international. Created by Satyajit Ray in 1965 in his avatar as a very successful writer of detective stories, Feluda has become a legend in the minds of lovers of Bengali literature, old and young. Ray began to film his Feluda series with Sonar Kella (The Golden Fort) many years ago.
It was left to son Sandip to carry the mantle his father left behind to make a television series of Feluda detective stories followed by his first Feluda thriller in the form of a full-length feture film. Bombaiyer Bombetey released a couple of years ago, was a roaring success. Ray senior chose Soumitra Chatterjee to essay Feluda. By the time Sandip began to make films, Chatterjee was too old to fit into the zapping mould Feluda projects. So the responsibility to make Feluda come alive on film was given to Sabyasachi Chakrabarty who has proved himself an able successor of Chatterjee. He played Feluda in Bombaiyer Bombetey and he continues to wear the same mantle in Kailase Kelenkari. Feluda works with two other men. One is his nephew and admirer, Topshe and the other is Lalmohan Ganguly, who claims to be a successful writer of detective stories under the pseudonym Jatayu.
The actors playing these two roles have changed over the years. With Sandip Ray as director, Saswata Chatterjee played Topshe for the television series while Parambrato is playing Topshe in the film versions. Lalmohan Ganguly is a funny man, thrown in probably to provide comic relief within the somber ambience of murder, mayhem, robbery and the works. Ray senior chose the brilliant Santosh Dutta to play Jatayu. The story goes that when Dutta passed away, Ray decided never to make a Feluda film because he could not imagine replacing Dutta with any other actor. Sandip took the late Anup Kumar to play Lalmohan but he passed away and now, Bibhu Bhattacharya, a child-actor-turned-character-actor, is doing the role. How does one rate Kailase Kelenkari as a film? According to the takings as the box office, it is a super duper hit. The film released with 12 prints across Kolkata and some parts of West Bengal on December 21, has fetched Rs.45 lakh in the first week alone from multiplexes, stand-alone theatres and Nandan, the government-set theatre at the Nandan complex.
The producers, Innovative Media, have had to increase the number of prints to 15 to accommodate the rising demand with most theatres running to packed houses. In terms of cinema however, Kailase Kelenkari has many warts on what could otherwise have been a beautiful face. It offers wholesome family entertainment with an insight into the clandestine dealings in antiques stolen from temples and ancient architecture. There is a lot of action, car chases, midnight adventures into the precincts of the Kailas temple in the Ellora Caves, an air crash setting for a dramatic opening, the works. But the glitches make the film less than what it could have been in aesthetic terms. For example, the criminal is shown right in the beginning of the film, which spoils the suspense completely. The unfolding of how Feluda catches up with the clever and wily Chattoraj forms the main story.
The cinematography is brilliant to say the least, specially the shots of the Kailas temple in midnight washed in moonlight, figures captured in silhouette. The music by Sandip Ray is generously 'inspired' by his father's tracks and is loud at places but keeps to the mood and the ambience nevertheless. A jewellery commercial designed to be a spoof on Hindi masala films turns out a cropper because of its jarring presence and amateurish handling. It just does not belong to the film and ruptures the continuity. The acting cast actually lifts the film from becoming a mundane adventure story gone wrong. Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Parambrato Chattopadhyay, Bibhu Bhattacharya, Biplab Chatterjee and Dipankar De are marvellous, each vying with the other to get to the winning post. Children however, always facing a virtual famine of films made for them, are delighted to finally gain access to a film they can watch along with their parents.