Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Arjun Samagra Vol I

The volume contains the making of a young detective in Arjun. Samaresh Majumder started these tales mainly for the young readers on the request of Nirendranath Chakravarti.
In Khunkharapi, a collection of two stories, we find the young Arjun on the quest for a job like any other Bengali youth after completing his graduation. His first job lands him under a contractor, Pritam Singh who undertakes a project of herding off group of wild elephants that were causing chaos in the nearby areas of Khutimari Range, North Bengal. Here he gets acquinted with a person called Tinkari who is regarded by the locals as a good-for-nothing lazybone. But, Arjun finds this apparently comic character interesting and somewhat knowledgable and gets him a job as a labour under his supervision. But his movements sometimes makes Arjun apprehensive about his true character. Next the story describes how Arjun carries on his job and while doing so, how he makes a close shave of his life when all of a sudden his team bumps into a pack of elephants. At night also the elephants are seen near their camp but curiously enough after midnight a peculiar sound drives them off. Arjun tries to find the source of the noise and while doing so unknowingly gets himself ready for another danger. The story ends with Arjun finding himself as a pawn in the game between smugglers and the guardians of peace. In the second story, also set in the mountanoues North Bengal, Arjun assists his mentor Amal Som in defending the treasure of a Buddhist Monastery near Kalimpong. Here we are introduced with a new character Bishnu Charan Patranabish aka Bistu Saheb, a respected figure and a long timer at the hills.
In Sitaharan Rahasya, again a collection of two stories related by the plot centering a young teenagae girl Sita, daughter of a long time Bengali resident in States. In the first of the stories, Arjun finds himself acting as a guard to Sita, who against her father's wishes tries to escape to the States to join the punk community from where she had been disunited by her father. Arjun, under the guidance of Amal Som manages to avoid Sita's kidnap as the story ends. In the next chapter, Amal & Arjun are again employed to retrieve Sita in Chandigarh from where she had been kidnapped. Here the presence of Bishnu Charan Patranabish breaths comic relief to the thriller.
The next collection is Lighter. In the two stories that follows, Arjun, now not so much as an amateur as the earlier stories had depicted, is on the trail of two missing lighters manufactured by a foreign company. The lighters, originally designed for the FBI, not only served the purpose of lighting a cigar, but also acted as a very powerful weapon. Reports of two of them being stolen by anti-social elements reach Arjun and he is set in the trail of finding them. Here, again a new charachter in the form of a retd Major, being a relation to Bistu Saheb appears and he accompanies Arjun in the adventures that ensue. These episodes also find Arjun in the States during his pursuit of the lost lighters.
Following this collection is the novel Jutoe Rakter Daag where we find Arjun, on the request of Major accompanies the latter on his visit to England while returning from America. Major's motive was to spend a few days with his friend, Marshal who is researching on pearl culture in an isolated island. But again there is trouble as Major buys a second-hand boot much to the irritation of another gang who is also on its lookout. As Arjun senses trouble, he examines and finds that the boot contains the location of some hidden object. As Major & Arjun teams up for the trail, they find themselves in grave dangers from the gang. Many characters are introduced in this story the chief ones being a female magician, a Mr. Brown, the look-a-like of Major, Marshal, the evil Dr. Hatch and their henhmen. The climax of the story is beneath the ocean where Arjun tries to fight off the villains with an underwater grenade launcher. The story is full of adventure than mystery but the narrative is both gripping and enjoyable at places.
The final novel of the volume is Derdin, where Arjun is requested by Amal Som to act as a bodyguard to a group of ladies on their holiday tour of North Bengal. But here too Arjun is intrigued by some information that the local people of slum areas are taking small loans against minute quantity of gold that they are claiming to be among their ancestral possession. Arjun senses foul play and though he takes the girls on their tour but also tries to pin down the villain, whom he suspects to be the suppllier of the stolen gold. Problem arises when the girls discover the body of a murdered man and a large ape in its vicinity. Also there are characters like the mysterious Mr. Verma who is an acquintance to one of the girls but his movements are quite suspicious, an old lady, one Baldev and Mr. Puri, a hot tempered lodger who apparently doesn't come out of his room. This Arjun story has the best blend of mystery and adventure in this volume.
On the whole, the Arjun stories are a plesant read from the point of view of adventure stories and also the aroma of the mountaneous North Bengal is an added treasure to them. But from mystery stand point the amount of coincedences to assist Arjun in his trail is too large and so I don't feel they can be considered as successful detective novels. Thus in all the narratives we find that it is the adventure that gets the upperhand over detection.
Footnote: While surfing the net, I came across this wonderful site called boimela.in that actually was a Bengali Book Shop with online purchasing facilities. I left this review on their site & it was accepted. Here I attach the link for those of u who r interested https://www.boimela.in/index.php?main_page=product_reviews_info&products_id=15&reviews_id=4.
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