Total Recall: Odia Detective Novels of the Past

By Srikant Mohanty: First television and subsequently a change in life-style leading to hectic schedules gradually did away with the passion for reading the favorite authors in detective novels. Few in the present generation even know that works of Odia writers in detective stories could stand in parallel with those of their contemporaries in English. Kanduri Charan Das-the author in Odia, whose series of mystery novels can even be the answer to the classics by Fredrick Forsyth, is an author completely placed in oblivion. .

detectiveRajasri Prakasani-the publisher of innumerable such classics- had published Kanduri Charan Das’ unforgettable suspense and detective fiction- “Rakta Golapa”.  The aging septuagenarians in Odisha still search for the monthly detective and mystery magazine in Odia- “Chakranta”.

The sixties, seventies and early eighties remained heydays for Odia detective writers; while the adults looked eagerly to  buy the series of detective novels in Odia- “Dasyu Ratan and Dasyu Ranjan”, the teenagers took every opportunity of the absence of their parents at home and finished the reading of such works as though in a single breath. Those were the days the detective writers were completely occupied for the stories to be published in the best magazines during Durga Puja. Buying certain favorite magazines and detective books marked the great auspicious occasion like Durga Puja; new clothes with new magazines were the auspicious signs that greeted the fervor during puja.

“Detective stories has a mixture in them; suspense and thrill, unpredictability about what would turn next.  It was sheer entertainment that was spell binding and remarkably intriguing. But the surprising element is that the authors had refused to take a bit from sex and extremely gory violence. The storyline bordered on telling you broadly a deadly truth, hiding behind the miasma of secrecy, conspiracy and greed”-says Jyosna Dash-one of the best known writers of present days.

The detective novels hinged broadly on imagination and moreover the story telling carried in its fold tentacles of mystery. The plots centered on the fanciful islands and a group of detectives were on the trail of a group of smugglers. The Odia detective novels had their greatness that hardly emulated other literature and not in the least the stories from the films. Truly, those are the glories of past times.

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