Are you an investigation enthusiast and fed up of those ‘Sherlocked’ fans around? Or looking for an Indian counterpart of Sherlock Homes? Well, you may never find one because what India borne is not a detective but a ‘Satyanveshi’. Yes! Byomkesh Bakshi – the Satyanveshi. And we are celebrating one hundred and twenty years of the father of Satyanveshi – Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. The legendary Bengali writer born on 30th March 1899 was associated with the Bengali cinema and Hindi cinema. His various short stories and novellas have been adopted as storyline for cinematizing. For an instance his short story ‘Chiriakhana’ (‘Zoo’) featuring Byomkesh Bakshi was adopted by the legendary Bengali cinematographer Satyajit Ray in 1967.
Sharadindu started his writing career with the publication of his first collected work of poems ‘Jaubansmriti’ in 1919. Oh! That also marks the centenary year of Bandyopadhyay’s writing career. After completing studying law, he left practicing in 1928 and joined director Higmanshu Roy who invited him to Bombay for script-writing in Bombay Talkies. Post this, he devoted his time entirely to Bengali literature and story-writing. Though Sharadindu vehemently focused on the genre of historical dramas, romance, humour, the novellas featuring the quintessential character of ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ are his most noted work. His writing style is a double-stripe sword. His stories and poems contained an amalgam of wit and humour with a sarcastic tonal attack on the superstitions and malpractices prevalent in the then social conditions of India. He beautifully addressed various issues including the child marriage and girl education not only in the Raj era but also in the prehistoric period. Also, he regularly challenged the western domination over the global literary scenario. The most relevant example of this challenge is the concept of ‘Satyanveshi’. He challenged that the concept of a ‘Detective’ or ‘Jasoos’ never conforms the ideals of Bharatvanshis. Even the character of Byomkesh Bakshi never liked being called a detective or a jasoos. He insisted that the duty of a Satyanveshi is to pursue truth which conforms the principles of Dharma irrespective of the monetary benefits or personal/political lobbying, while a detective or a jasoos is a mere hired person who may manipulate situations as per the materialistic demands. The Bengali-writer curated his short-stories in such a way that the audience can easily identify and analyse the trends, lifestyles and socio-economic situations of the time-period the story is based in.
Once a lawyer, Sharadindu pursued his writing career with such a zeal that he himself was never excluded in his stories. The character of Ajit Kumar Banerjee, who was the companion of Byomkesh Bakshi was an emblematic of Bandyopadhyay. The looks, attire, lifestyle and personal life was coincidentally or may be not coincidentally resembled with that of Sharadindu’s personal life. Ajit was also a bachelor and played a role of biographer of Byomkesh. For Sharad, Byomkesh was not a mere character but a life companion. Byomkesh was a decade younger than his curator but he lived the whole life with Sharadindu. Even in his last time in 1970, Bandyopadhyay was writing another Byomkesh legend ‘Bishupal Bodh’ (The Slaying of Bishupal), his genius intellect in the genre can be measured by the fact that post his demise no laureate was able to solve the mystery of Bishpal’s murder. Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay is undoubtedly an unsung hero in the struggle of literary freedom.
A very happy birthday Sharadindu – The father of ‘Satyanveshi’.