Feluda, the fictional private detective starring in a series of Bengali short stories written by legendary film producer Satyajit Ray, is set to appear on television as well as the silver screen, in an animated avatar soon.
Hyderabad-based animation, gaming and entertainment company DQ Entertainment International — a wholly-owned subsidiary of the over Rs 200-crore AIM-listed DQ Entertainment Plc — is currently in the process of developing TV movies that are also suitable for theatrical release, based on Ray’s ‘The Detective Stories of Feluda’, in a high-definition animation format for a global audience.
“We have bagged the exclusive rights of 15 Feluda stories from Ray’s family, with the first right of refusal for the remaining ones. Production of two movies, each 80 minutes long, is already under way. We plan to release the first movie by this year end and the second during the second quarter of 2010,” Tapaas Chakravarti, chairman and chief executive officer of the DQE Group, told Business Standard.
Satyajit Ray penned 35 Feluda stories between 1965 and the late 80s. Feluda, the protagonist, is young (around 27 years) and lives at Rajani Sen Road, Ballygunge, in Kolkata and is always accompanied by his 14-year-old cousin Topesh and his detective story-writer friend Jatayu. Having a brain like Sherlock Holmes, Feluda busts tough-as-nuts criminal cases in India and abroad. Educated in the West and an exponent of the martial arts and yoga, Feluda likes to smoke ‘Charminar’ cigarettes. “We will not delink the character of Feluda with the West. As Feluda is an Indian, we will focus on showing a beautiful India and create animated assets of the detective, who, while at home sports kurta and pyjamas, and wears western outfits when on a mission,” Chakravarti said, adding that DQE will be the sole producer of the entire series of 15 movies.
He, however, refused to divulge the amount the company is investing in this project. “About 80 per cent of the budget for these movies have already been closed through pre-sales,” he said.
However, according to conservative estimates, investment in an animation movie of this class typically involves about Rs 3 crore.
DQE, according to him, is set to sign up a US-based entertainment group for distribution of these films globally, whose name will be announced later this month.
“We have already roped in international script writers for adaption from the original stories and will be delivering the movies in English, leaving the rights to dub the movies in other languages to the broadcaster and the distributor,” Chakravarti said.
DQE will hold the intellectual property of the movies, besides back-end rights. A portion of the duly-audited earnings will go to Ray’s family, “with whom we have a non-disclosure agreement”. Of the 15 films, several will spin off into the television series, he said.
“Satyajit Ray is well appreciated by the intelligentsia in France, which conferred him with the Lègion d’Honneur. There are also cult-followers of Ray in countries like the UK that we will capitalise on,” he added.