The Curse of Jatayu

Stuck in a foreign land with no friends (as opposed to being stuck in Kolkata with no friends) I have mucho time for reading.

But since those stupid airlines companies charge a lot for baggage, I can’t carry a lot of books.

Solution – pdf: the world’s 4th fastest growing religion.

I downloaded and started reading all the Feluda novels by Stayajait Ray – and I fell in love with Jatayu once again.

Who is Jatayu?

Well there are two Jatayus


Jatayu Number One

We have to look at the story of the Indian ancient epic – Ramayana

There was a kingdom called Ayodha. The ruler of Ayodha was Dasarath.

Dasarath was a loose character – he had not one, not two, but three wives.

Wife 1 had one son- Ram (he was the eldest)

Wife 2 had 1 son – Bharat

Wife 3 had two sons – Laxman and Shatrughna.

Ram had a wife – Sita, who was supposedly mucho beautiful

Wife 2 wanted her son to be king after Dasarath, so she seduced the man who ordered Ram to fuck off to a forest for 14 years.

Sita – being one of those “my husband is my world” wives – declared she would join her husband in the jungle sojourn.


Laxman thought it would be a great opportunity too see Sita in skimpy clothes or possibly muy naked, so he also declared that he would go to the forest to “protect” them.

So far so good?

Now when they were in the forest, a lady called Surpanakha, saw the brothers and asked first one and then the other to marry her. However, the brothers insulted and humiliated her. Why?

Because she belonged to a different race.


That’s right people, Ram and Laxman were racists.

Hurt and enraged, Surpanakha attacked Sita.

Laxman, in turn, attacker her and cut off her nose and ears.

That’s right people, Ram and Laxman were misogynist women abusers.

Inured, scarred and humiliated, Surpanakha  went to her brother – Ravan, the king of Lanka and complained about the abuse.

Ravan, like all good brothers, vowed revenge and retribution.

However, as it turned out, he was a loose character as well.

He came, he saw and he fell head over heels in lust with Sita.

He got one of his agents to distract the brothers and in the confusion, abducted Sita.

So far in the story, there is not one single character out there worth revering, worth respecting.

But that’s about to change.

Because here comes Jatatyu.

Jatatyu was a geriatric vulture, living in the forest, minding his own business.

But one day, while he was sleeping, he heard a woman’s distressed pleas for help.

And so Jatayu went to help – just like that, no thought for life or limb, no thought of whether I know the person, whether its any of my business etc.

He heard a woman crying for help, he went to help – as simple as that.

He saw Ravan kidnapping Sita and went to rescue her.

And an epic contest ensued – on one side, one of the greatest warriors of all time and on the other side a geriatric vulture.

Ravana_fighting_with_Jatayu 424px-Ravi_Varma-Ravana_Sita_Jathayu


There was always going to be one winner.

But Jatayu didn’t quit, Jatayu didn’t run away, Jatayu didn’t think of saving his life.

And all that for a stranger.

And with literally his last breath, he told Ram which way Ravan had gone with Sita.

So there you have it folks, the greatness and noblest character (Hanuman doesn’t count, that dude is immortal) in all of Ramayana wasn’t a man at all – it was Jatayu.


Jatayu Number Two

Jatayu is short, Jatayu is bald, Jatayu is dark and Jatayu has a moustache.

And Jatayu is the nom de plume of Lalmohan Ganguly, the greatest character Satyajit Ray ever created.

Satyajit Ray was the Da Vinci of Bengal – a brilliant author, poet, filmmaker, screenplay writer, director and music composer.

He created dozens of immortal, memorable characters – and Jatayu was the premier among them.


Lalmohan Ganguly is the author of a series of detective adventure books – “rohosyo romancho series”. His hero is Prokhor Rudro – a larger than life character.

We (the readers) first met Mr. Jatayu in Sonar Kella. He won our hearts and curved a niche in it over the next couple of decades.

And we get to hear about his books – Durdhorsho Dushman (Awesome Adversary), Saharai Shihoron (Shivers in Sahara), Honduras-ey Hahakar (Wailing/Horrors in Honduras), Vancouver-er Vampire,  Karakoramey Rokto Kar? (Whose Blood in Karakoram?), Bombaiyer Bombetey (Dacoit/Burglers of Bombay) Meru Mahatanka (Polar Perturbation), Gorilla-r Gogrash (Jaws/Gulp of Gorilla), Anabik Danob (Atomic Monster), Himalay-ey Hritkompo (Himalayan Palpitations), Borneor Bibhishikha (Dread in Borneo)

Of course, the popularity of the character skyrocketed mainly because of the genius of Santosh Dutta – one of the finest actors to ever grace the silver screen.

He played Jatayu in two movies – Sonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath

sonar-kella-dvd-472 joi_baba_felunath_satyajit_ray_signature_collection_ick094 joi_bab_felunath_poster

The moment he entered the screen with his Japanese suitcase was the moment Bengali cinema change forever.

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But here comes the curse.

After appearing as Jatayu in just 2 movies, he died, at the relatively tender age of 63.

Unfortunately Satyajit Ray could not make any more Feluda movies in his lifetime.

His son Sandip Ray took up that challenge.

He made a couple of telefilms in 1996 – Baksho Rohosyo and Gosaipur Sargorom – with Robi Ghosh as Jatayu.

rabi-ghosh Dvd_baksha_rahasya

Robi Ghosh died after the 2nd film.


Sandip Ray then decided to recast Jatayu for his telefilm Jato Kando Kathmandute. He chose Anup Kumar.



So what happened?

Anup Kumar died.

Sandip Ray then decided to go the full hog and make proper movies of Feluda.

He cast Bibhu Bhattacharya as Jatayu.

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In one of those Elementary My Dear events, Bibhu Bhattacharya died.

That’s four people who have died after portraying the same character.


Its the name I tell you, its doomed.

Ever since the beginning of time, Jatayus have been linked by fate to do the right thing for humanity and die.

And ever since, they have performed their duty with gutso and dedication and have sacrificed themselves.


As the great man said

“Jatayur Jobab Nei”


And that’s why I hereby volunteer myself to be the next Jatayu.


5 thoughts on “The Curse of Jatayu

  1. Loved the ultra-shortened Ramayana narration… I read the translated version of Feluda stories… somehow they don’t quite capture the essence of Jatayu in the way that you have explained… Maybe we need a better translation or maybe I should learn Bangla (i’m not putting that in my bucket list).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read the English translations too (published by Penguin), and though they give a good account of the stories, the finer nuances of the language (as it happens in most translations apart from Asterix) got lost… can try the first two movies though, they are available with English subtitles


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