Written long before Satyajit Ray's Feluda series, Saradindu Bandyopadhyay's Byomkesh Bakshi mysteries heralded a new era in Bengali popular fiction. Set in the old-world Calcutta of the Raj, these stories featuring the astute delightful as when they first friend Ajit are still as gripping and delightful as when they first appeared.
Byomkesh's world, people with wonderfully delineated characters an framed by a brilliantly captured pre-Independence urban milieu, is fascinating because of its contemporary flavor. In the first story, Byomkesh works undercover to expose an organized crime rig trafficking in drugs. In the Gramophone Pin Mystery, he must put his razor-sharp intellect to good use to unearth the pattern behind a series of bizarre roadside murders, in Calamity Strikes, the ace detective is called upon to investigate the strange an sudden death of a girl in a neighbor's kitchen. In the next story, he has to lock horns with an old enemy who has vowed to kill him with an innocuous but deadly weapon. And in picture Imperfect, Byomkesh unravels a complex mystery involving a stolen group photograph, an amorous couple, and an apparently unnecessary murder.
Saradindu Bandyopadhyay was born on 30 March 1899 in Jaunpur, Utter Pradesh. His first literary venture was a book of Poems published in 1919. At the time he was a student in Vidyasagar College, Calcutta, and lived in a mess on Harrison Road (Now Mahatma Gandhi Road). His room at the mess was later to become a model for Byomkesh Bakshi's famous first residence. While still a student, he married his wife Parul in 1918. Subsequently he studied law, and then dedicated himself to writing, by 1932 when the first Byomkesh mystery appeared, he was already an established writer.
In 1938, Saradindu moved to Bombay to work on screenplays for Bombay Talkies and later for other banners. He worked in Bombay till 1952, when he gave up his ties with cinema and moved to Pune to concentrate on his writing. He went on to become a popular and renowned writer of ghost stories, historical romances and children's fiction in Bengali. But the Byomkesh series remains his most cherished contribution to the world of contemporary Bengali fiction.
Saradindu Bandyopadhyay was a recipient of the Rabindra Purashkar in 1967 for his novel Tunghabhadrar Tirey. He was also awarded the Sarat Smriti Purshkar by Calcutta University in the same year. The latter part of his life was spent in Pune where he passed away on 22 September 1970.
Sreejata Guha has a BA in Comparative Literature with a First Class First from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, and an MA in the same subject from State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is currently working on a Ph.D. dissertation on translation theory which studies texts that have travelled in translation from the original Bengali. She has worked as a translator and editor with Stree Publishers and Seagull Books, Calcutta, and written extensively on theatre, popular culture and the environment for various national publications. She lives in Pittsburgh, USA.
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