Monday, May 21, 2007

Fa Fe

Marathi has had its share of paperback detectives and kid detectives, but probably the most famous of all Marathi detectives is a kid, who goes by the name of “Faster Fene”. If English children had their “Secret Seven”s and “Famous Five”s (about whom we learnt later), more than one generation of Marathi kids had our one and only Fa Fe (as he is popularly known among the fans), who was match for all and then some.

No kidding guys, your favourite “Detectives” series is back, this time with a kid detective.

Faster Fene

Banesh Fene, born and brought up in Fursungi (a small village near Pune), was christened “Faster Fene”, when he (on his trusty bicycle) left behind a rich, spoiled kid while racing across the length and breadth of Pune to gain the last seat in a prestigious school. This nickname was later proven worthy many times over when he bested criminals, spies, ghosts and much more, in terms of speed and brains.

Apart from Tintin, this kid must be the most travelled of them all. He has travelled to almost all corners of India, solving mysteries and defeating criminals, while still in school. Gifted with intelligence, quick wit and bravery, he has an uncanny knack of attracting trouble. So, when visiting Mumbai, he gets attached to a runaway blimp and lands in the midst of smuggled goods. When visiting Kashmir, his visit turns up more terrorists than tourist spots, and when the India-China war is on, running off to fight on the front, he manages to be caught by enemy and escapes with their plans.

So why did I include this adventurer as a detective? Because in his illustrious career, he has caught a Chinese spy in Pune (Pune was and continues to remain one of the most important military stations in India), uncovered the mystery of a ghost in an oil-well in Gujrat, helped authorities to track and catch many criminals and smugglers and tracked a treasure or two, while he was still in school. He was aided by his cousin and a lot of school-mates (with whom he became pretty famous after his “entry” in school).

Written by Bha. Ra. Bhagwat (a Marathi author, famous for his adventure novels for kids), the stories have their fair share of adventure, mystery, improbable escapes at the last moment, scary and/or bumbling villains... in short, all the ingredients that make a nice adventure series (though the action might get repetitive at times, this being a series of novels). Written for kids, the stories have their fair share of wit and humour to occupy even the adults. The series was originally written in 60's, with India-China war providing the backdrop for more than one novel. It was later converted into a TV series in 80's.

With his intelligence, bravery and wit, Fa Fe has enthralled more than a generation of Marathi kids. In fact, I think I can safely say that almost every kid I knew in school had dreams of being this lanky kid (with bones protruding out of his skinny legs and hands) with his chequered-shirt and half-pant (a dress he was rarely seen without, even when he dropped on the border with a parachute), flying on his bicycle, outwitting his (and of course, country's) foes.

Coming up: Detectives in Indian Comics (Well, crime-fighters if you want)

Quote of The Day:

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Neihal said...


That was a walk down memory lane (little hazy though, I dont remember a lot except the name, and long legs mentioned in title track, if I am right. )

and we will prefer "crime-fighters" please. :D

Fleiger said...

@Neihal: It seems to me that everbody but me remembers the serial :( Even on Desicritics, I got more comments about the serial, than about books.

Anyways, if you read Marathi, making the hazy memories solid would be a nice experience, guaranteed.

Re:Crime fighters, since I cannot remember many "detectives" in comics, I thought some people would nitpick.

Sakshi said...

Hey....I have just sent you an email. It may be stuck in your Gmail Spam pls do check and revert back.


Phoenix Rises said...

I remember Faster Fene! I'd read it in English though. Didn't it appear in Tinkle comics??

Fleiger said...

@Phoenix: Yes, the stories were translated and animated in Tinkle. So I guess you have Fa Fe in front of your eyes :D

Ashley said...

Oh thats great recollection ! I have read so many Fa Fe stories but didn't find anyone in the blogworld who shares the same interest.

Fleiger said...

@Ashley: Thanks... It's nice to find someone else who has read Faster Fene in his "original guise" ;)
Do check out rest of my Detectives series.
And if you like Marathi books, perhaps you would like to read about "Viakti ani Valli" by Pu La:

(All my book reviews have been shifted to a new blog recently)

Ashley said...

I think I have already read the post about 'Vyakti ani Valli'. I see my comment on that post :-)

Fleiger said...

@Ashley: Sorry... In my defence, that post is the most read and most commented upon post on my blog.
I am planning a post on second of the triumvirate: "Asa Mi Asami"