Sunday, April 14, 2013

Faster Fenay at Fort Pratapgad - B.R. Bhagwat

The B.R. Bhagwat original in Marathi is stuff of folklore. I have been hearing of Faster Fenay for a long time from Raja, Satish, Shobha and probably Milind and Parth as well, so when I saw this slim book in the bookstore I could not resist picking it up. Faster Fenay does not disappoint. The thirteen year old Banesh Fenay alias Faster Fenay alias Fafe and his schoolmates from Vidyabhavan, Pune, Santosh Desai and Chakor Deshmukh outwit a kidnapping gang in this story that has as many twists and turns as any book of 100 pages can contain. And they are as relevant and as contemporary as any mobile phone-ipad wielding kid today.
Puffin Classics, 110 p, Rs. 199

The schoolboys are on a trek to Pratapgad Fort. Nice way by B.R. Bhagwat to include history in the story and not just weave some story. After they learn about Shivaji and his legendary duel with Afzal Khan, the action begins. From stories of missing people, devious sadhus, hidden tunnels, kidnapping gangs, earthquakes, treasures, coded maps - the book has it all. Moving at super fast speed and full of entertainment for the reader Faster Fenay is fun and just the kind of stuff you want to read when you're a kid. Or even when you're an adult for that matter. I enjoyed it thoroughly and got done with it in half a day.

The original Fenay series was in Marathi and the Puffin Classics in English have been translated by Tejas Modak (who has done a good job of it). B.R. Bhagwat's own story is very interesting in itself. Born in 1910, he worked mainly as a journalist - with the Sakal in Pune and later Prakash in Mumbai. He joined the AIR in 1941 and quit soon after the broadcast of Gandhi's arrest to join the Freedom Movement. After being jailed for two years for taking part in the freedom struggle he returned to writing, translating Jules Verne and H.G. Wells into Marathi. Later he published a Marathi magazine for children called Balmitra from 1950 to 1957. Faster Fenay took birth sometime then and was later serialised on Doordarshan. He wrote over 200 books and several comic strips. B.R. Bhagwat died in 2001.

You wonder why you don't read these children's books anymore. They are fun and quick, easy to read and do not tax you too much, they take you back to being a kid and to all those crevices in your mind that you'd have forgotten, and best of all they leave you feeling good and light. Not heavy and burdened.

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