Ray's alter ego Shonku makes calendar debut

Calendar named ‘The Global Footprints of Professor Shonku’ , which is based on illustrations by Satyajit Ray, covers Shonku’s adventures not only in his hometown Giridih but also around the globe

After the film Professor Shonku O El Dorado, we now have a calendar on Satyajit Ray's iconic character Professor Shonku. This calendar – 'The Global Footprints of Professor Shonku' – with brief details and Satyajit Ray's own illustrations, covers Professor Shonku's adventures not only in his hometown Giridih but also the Amazon rainforests, Congo, Egypt, Tibet, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Bolivia, Chile, the Sahara and Taklamakan deserts, the underwater world near Gopalpur on the Bay of Bengal and even some mysterious, imaginary islands which were often the subjects of his dreams.

Sandip Ray, director of the film who was at an event recently to launch the calendar, says: "Trilokeshwar Shonku, popularly known as Professor Shonku, is a genius and a scientist-inventor. He lives a humble life in Giridih – a small town in Jharkhand – with his servant Prahlad, and his pet cat Newton. Shonku is a true polyglot – he is fluent in 69 languages including the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Every day, he goes for a morning walk on the banks of the river Ushri and keeps a diary with his Waterman fountain pen. These are the characteristics we have tried to imbibe in the illustrations."

The calendar is not just a collector's item but is also based on illustrations by Satyajit Ray, curated by Sandip and designed by Pinaki De. A panel discussion following the launch saw Sandip Ray, Dhritiman Chaterji and Subhasish Mukherjee address the fans.

"Both Feluda and Shonku are alter egos of Satyajit Ray himself. When he was writing about Feluda's travels, he had actually been to those places. But in case of Shonku he wrote about all the places he wanted to go to, but couldn't in his lifetime," said Sandip Ray while talking about the travels of Shonku.

When asked about the illustrations, he said it was quite a task restoring Shonku's illustrations because none of the original ones were with the family.

"Almost all the illustrations of Shonku books were either with newspaper offices or various magazines. Unlike Feluda, where most illustrations were black and white, in the case of Shonku they were mostly in colour. Pinaki De did a great job in recovering them and adapting them to modern printing technology. I'm very glad the way it has all shaped up," he added.

Actor Dhritiman Chaterji who plays Shonku in the film said: "A lot of people have read the books. There are others who haven't. I hope for those who haven't read the book, this will be a sort of initiation into the books. More often than not we see people rejecting a film that is based on a novel only because it is not exactly like the book. But a film is a different medium, so it cannot be like the book. It may not be exactly like the way one imagines it to be. Yet, it may have some amount of dexterity to it. I would request the audience to keep that in mind when they watch the film."

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