Kakababu Set To Conquer Web, Indiana Jones Style: Classic Bengali Novels To Be Made Into 3-Season Web Series

Arjun Varma
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Arjun Varma

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Arjun is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who, before stepping into the glamorous world of entertainment reporting, assisted acclaimed filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.
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Arjun Varma
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Not much is known about the desi Indiana Jones, Kakababu, outside of Bengal and Bengalis. But that’s about to change. ‘Main Aur Charles’ producer Vikram Khakhar and ‘Neerja’, ‘Mary Kom’ writer Saiwyn Quadras are all set to popularise the late poet-novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay’s fictional character via a three-season web series and feature films.

“I’ve read two books in the series and was instantly intrigued,” Vikram told Mumbai Mirror. “Right now we are in the process of translating all the Bengali novels into English after which Saiwyn Quadras, the writer of Mary Kom and Neerja and the creative producer on this project, will contemporise the stories to be turned into a three-season web series with 10-11 stories in each season, interspersed with a film at regular intervals.”

Kakababu is a cryptographer whose knowledge of art and history helps him decipher hidden clues in paintings and sculptures to become an invaluable ally of the CBI in finding hidden treasures.

kakababuBut Kakababu is a unique sort of hero. In the sense that this typical Bengali school teacher is physically challenged having lost one leg in an accident. But that doesn’t stop him from being a globe-trotting adventurer.

The writer, Saiwyn, also explained that an inherent desire in people, kids or adults, to play detective will make this character very relatable and interesting to the audience.

“What’s even more commendable is that this typical Bengali babu with the school teacher attitude is physically challenged, having lost a leg in a jeep accident in Afghanistan several years ago. He walks with a crutch but that doesn’t cripple him in any way. He fences, shoots and swims. This makes him an aspirational figure with youngsters who through these stories will learn that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it,” he adds.

Talking further about his vision for the series and its overall scale, Saiwyn shared: “For me the aspiration is to give them [audience] something that will keep them hooked, like Game of Thrones or House of Cards, and who better than this adventure maverick to travel with considering he moves from the Andamans to Afghanistan, from Egypt to the Himalayas with such ease and panache. In his tryst with crime, Kakababu has travelled across India and the world. Now, it’s our turn to take him to different parts of the country and the globe.”

When asked if he has an actor in mind to play the character on screen, the writer replied, “It’s too early to put a face to the name, besides our Kakababu will move from a young man in his mid-20s and early 30s to a 60-plus veteran. I’m sure any actor will jump at the chance to play this character. I myself am really excited to create a new Kakababu universe.”

Incidentally, actor Prosenjit Chatterjee played Kakababu in the 2013 Bengali hit film Mishawr Rohoshya. Will he reprise the role in the web series? Well, that remains to be seen.

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Origin of Kakababu

Back in 1979, the late poet-novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay wrote a story, Bhoyonkor Sundar (Fiercely Beautiful), for the Durga puja edition of a popular Bengali magazine. It’s lead character, Raja Roychowdhury aka Kakababu, caught the imagination of not just the kids and teenagers it targeted, but also the elders, and over the next 33 years, till his death in 2012, Gangopadhyay went on to write 36 adventure novels woven around this desi detective/adventurer.

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