Professor Shonku (in the middle) along with his English friend Jeremy Saunders and German friend Wilhelm Krol
|First appearance||Byomjatrir Diary|
|Created by||Satyajit Ray|
|Portrayed by||Satyajit Ray|
|Full name||Trilokeshwar Shonku|
|Language skills||capable of speaking 69 languages|
|Occupation||Scientific inventor, professor of physics at the Scottish Church College in his early days|
|Relatives||Tripureswar Shonku (father)
Batukeshwar Shonku (grandfather of great grandfather (oti briddho propitamoho))
Professor Shonku is a fictional scientist created by Satyajit Ray in a series of Bengali science fiction books. His full name is Trilokeshwar Shonku, and by occupation, he is an inventor. He is the son of Dr. Tripureshwar Shonku. The family name Shonku is caste-less and class-less, as seen by the norms of Bengali Hindu society.
Character development of Professor Shonku
The real name of Professor Shonku is Trilokeshwar Shonku. He lives in Giridih beside the river Usri. He has a male-servant named Prahllad and a cat named Newton living in the house. In his story "The Astronaut's Diary" (Byomjatrir diary) Ray introduced Professor Shonku, the protagonist of his science-fiction stories.
Professor Shonku's father Tripureshwar was a physician. Professor Shonku was born on June 16. His nickname is Tilu. Professor Shonku passed matriculation examination of the University of Calcutta at the age of 15. At the age of 16, Professor Shonku received his BSc degree with honours in two subjects, Physics and Chemistry. In Satyajit Ray's last finished novel of the series, Swarnaparnee, that was initially published in the Special Puja issue of Anandamela children's magazine in 1992, it was mentioned that at the age of 20, Professor Shonku took his first job as a professor of physics in Calcutta's Scottish Church College.
Professor Shonku is a polyglot who knows 69 languages. His pet cat 'Newton' is 24 years old.
By his own admission, Satyajit Ray had based Prof. Shonku on Professor Challenger, by Arthur Conan Doyle. and a character created by Ray's father Sukumar Ray named Hesoram Hushiar. The other important character in Satyajit Ray's novels and short stories is the sleuth Feluda, who is of the same profession as Conan Doyle's famous private detective, Sherlock Holmes and Tarinicharan Banarjee (or Tarainikhuro) the story teller.
Other frequent characters
- Abinash Majumdar (Abinash babu) – the completely non-scientific neighbor and friend who never understands the magnitude of Shonku's scientific breakthroughs and often finds them humiliating or amusing or insignificant.
- Nakur Chandra Biswas — the man with supernatural power of predicting the future which he had from a ball lightning incident.He lives in Makarda.
- Jeremy Saunders — the British scientist residing in London (as mentioned in Shornoporni).
- Wilhelm Krol — German scientist with interests on paranormal activities — quite unmindful (as described in Ekshringo Abhijan).
- Prohlad — Shonku's trusted servant and housekeeper for a long time.
- Newton- Shonku's long time pet cat.
Inventions of Professor Shonku
He has his own laboratory there in his house in Giridi where he researches for loads of new and fantastic inventions.
His extraordinary inventions are:
- Miracurall – A drug capsule (also in ointment form) that cures any ailment except common cold, the name is a short form of Miracle Cure for All Ailments.
- Annihillin – A pistol capable of annihilating (vanishing or vapourizing) anything that is living.... invented because Shonku does not like bloodshed It does not work on non living things (according to Shonku'r Congo Abhijan).
- Shankoplane – A small hovercraft created using anti-gravity technology, capable of vertical take-off and landing and magnificent mileage.
- Shankovite – The anti-gravity alloy by which Shankoplane was made.
- Omniscope – A combination of telescope and microscope, which looks like and can be worn as spectacles.
- Air-conditioning pill – A capsule to be kept in shirt pocket, that keeps the body temperature normal in extremes of climate.
- Somnolin – A sleeping pill that will work in any condition.
- Evolutin – A drug that makes people evolve 10 thousand years in 5 minutes.
- Compudium – Short for Computerized Medium, a device to contact departed souls.
- Remembrane- A device that makes people remember the things he forgot.
- Robu – A robot built with very cheap materials, programmed to answer any question asked to it.
- Linguagraph – A device that translates any earth language to any other. The translation capability is supposed to include animal languages, and works on cats, plants, ants and even viruses too. However, it does not work to translate speech of aliens.
- Compu – A computer brain with 10 crore delicate curcuit int it.Designed by Shanku along with Matsue, Dr. John Kenseli, Dr. Stephen Merivel, Dr.Stavs, Dr.Ugatti, Prof. Sttraton, Prof. Kutna, Prof. Markus Wingfield (as a replacement of S.Merivel) and the workers of Namura Institute of Japan,which later develops AI via an accident.
- Intellectron – A device to measure intelligence.
- Ornithon – A device to educate birds. Professor Shanku was able to "educate" a crow named Corvus using this device.
- Snuff Gun – A gun that causes snuffing for thirty three hours.
- Pill for Nightmare – Causes sleep and makes the taker have terrible nightmares.
- Bidhusekhar - The mechanical man with AI.
- Fishpill - Space food for cats.
- Rocket - A rocket for space adventures.
- Batika Indica - A pill made from sap of Banyan tree to ward off need of food and water for 24 hours.
- Special Room Fresher - A room fresher made up of 36 different flower essence.
- Mangorange - A hybrid tree with characteristics of both mango and orange.Bengali name, 'Amla'(Aam + kamla).
- Invisibility Drug - A special drug to make living things invisible for at least 5 hours.
- Carbothin Fabric - A fabric which is non conductor of electricity and saves from electrical shocks. Shanku made shirts and jackets out of it.
- Tiranian Phosphate - A very strong and dangerous acid.
- Annihilin Acid - Most powerful and dangerous acid ever invented by Shaku.
- Polar Ripelion Theory
- Neo-Spectroscope - A device to contact departed souls. Almost similar to Compudium.
- Untitled drug to increase smelling power
- A small specimen of all evolution forms of human - Along with German Biochemist Hambolt.
- Luminimax - A small ball to give light of 200 watt power when ignited.
- Oximore powder - Powder to help intake of Oxygen at higher altitudes.
- Camerapid - Instant color photographs after snap.
- An alchemical liquid to transform living things to pure gold - Re created along with Krol and Saunders following the process of Savedra the alchemist.
- Narvigar - A tonic to steady nervous system.
- X and anti X - Drug to change nature of both human and animals. The same drug was invented by Dr. Danieli.
- Time machine - Attempted to built.
- Tried to contact to E.T[disambiguation needed]
- Shanku - Frankenstein Formula - Along with other scientists,Shanku invented to bring back the dead to life without changing their brains.
- Electric pistol - A pistol to fire 400 volts electricity.
- Ceribrilant - Medicine to make brain function better way.
- Marjarin - Medicine for increasing life span of cats.
- Ointment to protect from insect bite especially mosquito and barracuda fly
- Shankoplast - Wonderful plastic.
Professor Shonku had many adventures, in both real and fantastical places, some with historical leanings and some with great revelations connected to human civilisation.
Excerpts of some interesting adventures follow:
- Professor Shonku o Khoka:
A child who otherwise used to be normal, has "changed" after he fell and hurt his head. Once happy and normal, this child has become melancholy and speaks things which the parents do not follow and term as gibberish. The parents desperately seek help to get their boy back. A doctor finally suggests to see Shonku. Although initially Shonku was reluctant to see this boy as practicing medicines is not his profession — after he sees the boy it soon becomes obvious that this is indeed an extraordinary case worthy of his attention. What appeared as gibberish to his parents were actually meaningful facts which should normally be well beyond his or many other peoples reach, spoken in many different languages which the child had no way to learn. He also demonstrates psychic ability, where the flash of a camera stops working after he declares he doesn't want to be pictured but the reporter insists. Although the child seems to be omniscient, he appears sad and detached from the material world. The story ends when the child concocts a potion by mixing several very dangerous chemicals and acids, some of which were Shonku's own inventions, and gulps it down before Shonku had a chance to stop him. A short period of unconsciousness follows, after which the child wakes up as his normal old self. He then makes friends with Shonku, states he has no memory of things which happened in the last few days, and even asks for chocolates.
- Professor Shonku o Har:
Professor Shonku meets a fakir who has this ability to re-animate a living thing from its bones. Shonku tries to investigate, which enrages the fakir and the causes him to curse Shonku. Later in his life, Shonku discovers the remains of a dinosaur in a cave along with an assistant. The curse starts to take effect and the dinosaur comes back to life.
- Professor Shonku o Golok Rahasya:
Shonku gets hold of a mysterious sphere which changes its color spontaneously and emanates various sounds. In fact, the sphere is a planet from another solar system and it has brought extraterrestrial life along.
The Professor is haunted by a repeating dream where he along, with his friends, are stranded on a beautiful exotic island without any inhabitants. His friends also experience the same dream. It is as if the mysterious island is beckoning great scientists of the world to it.
- Ek Shringo Abhijan:
- Mahakasher doot:
Shonku tries to prove that human civilization has prospered thanks to the help of some alien civilisation that comes to Earth every 5000 years and teaches them something extraordinary. What are they going to reveal this time?
- Nakurbabau o El Dorado:
Nokurbabu has the ability to make others see what he is thinking. He and Shonku are caught in a chain of events that lead them to the deep jungles of South America where El Dorado has always eluded discovery.
- Professor Shonku o UFO:
Several sightings of UFOs makes headlines worldwide. However, this news is outdone by the news of the demolition of some of the greatest monuments of mankind. The Eiffel Tower and the Angkor Wat are destroyed, and the aliens are blamed. Nokurbabu joins Shonku and other scientists who discover that the UFO has its base in the Gobi desert. They find the UFO and go aboard. They are captured immediately, not by the aliens, but by a mad scientist who is the present owner of the UFO and who is in fact the destroyer of the monuments, driven because he was denied his due honour in the scientific community. His next target is the Taj Mahal.
A complete list of his adventures
The List of Professor Shonku adventures include 38 stories of Professor Shonku adventures written by Satyajit Ray. The first "Shonku" story Byomjatrir Diary (An Astronaut's Diary) was published in the Sandesh in 1965. It was a long story describing Professor Shonku's space travel. The last Shonku adventure Intelectron remained unfinished after Ray's death.
|Story||Subject/Topic dealt with||Plot outline||Location of incidence||Characters|
|Abinash Majumdar||Nakur Chandra Biswas||Newton
|Prohllad||Jeremy Saunders||Wilhelm Krol|
|Professor Shonku makes a rocket and goes to Mars. He takes Prohllad, Newton and Bidhushekhar (a robot) with him. In Mars they encounter some terrible creatures. Finally the rocket of Professor Shonku reaches a planet named "Tafa" where highly civilized and intelligent beings live.||Solar system||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Igipshio Atonko||
|British archaeologist James Summerton finds more than 30 Mummies in the Egyptian city Bubastis. Professor Shonku goes to Egypt and joins Summerton's team. At the same time, an Egyptian person threatens Shonku and asks to stop the excavation. Shonku ignores the warning. Summerton gifts Shonku one of the Mummies he found in the excavation. Professor Shonku brings that to Giridh, India. The Egyptian person who warned Professor Shonku chases him to Giridih and claims himself as a descendant of the mummified person.||Port Said, Bubastis, Egypt
|Professor Shonku o Har||
a) Tyrannosaurus (skeleton)
b) Magican power of Indian yogi
|Professor Shonku finds a Tyrannosaurus skeleton near Nilgiri mountains. He comes back to Giridih and starts researching. At the same time a sadhu comes there who can transform bones of dead animals into living beings using magical powers.||Nilgiri mountains, Giridih||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Macaw||
a) Theory to become invisible
b) Macaw bird
|Professor Shonku invents an oral drug, using which can make a man invisible. Gajanan Tarafdar, a rival scientist, tries to steal the formula. At the same time a talking Macaw comes to the garden of Professor Shonku. Professor Shonku gives the bird shelter in his own house. After few days Professor Shonku's formula gets stolen and at the same time the bird goes missing as well.||Giridih||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Aschorjo Putul||
Suspicious humanoid sculpture
|Professor Shonku goes to Sweden to receive honorary doctorate degree from Swedish Academy of Sciences. There he meets a man named Gregor Lindquist. Gregor informs him that he is a doll maker and invites him to see his creations. Professor Shonku accepts the invitation, but, he finds out some very surprising and unpleasant truth. In addition, he falls in danger.||Sweden||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Golok Rahasya||
Smallest planet of sloar system, Extraterrestrial life
|Abinash Majumdar finds a ball (spherical object) near Usri river. Very soon he notices the ball's peculiar characteristics like the colour of the ball changes in every few hours, sometimes it gets wet and sometimes it becomes as cold as snow. Abinash Majumdar reports it to Professor Shonku. After few days, Abinash Majumdar gives the ball to Professor Shonku. Professor Shonku discovers that the ball ("spherical object") is actually a small planet.||Giridih||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Chi Ching||
|A Chinese magician named Chi Ching comes to meet Professor Shonku in Giridih. Professor Shonku firstly fails to recognise him, but then realises that he attended Chi Ching's magic show in Kobe, Japan. On that day, after showing some common magical tricks, Chi Ching started demonstrating hypnotism. Professor Shonku specially disliked the way magician Chi Ching was trowing some common people into embarrassing situation after calling them on the stage. Finally Chi Ching called Professor Shonku to come up on the stage, being unaware that Professor Shonku was a great scientist and an expert of hypnotism. For next 30 minutes he tried to hypnotize Shonku in every possible way, but fails.
Professor Shonku remembers Chi Ching. Chi Ching goes to Shonku's laboratory, checks Shonku's works and inventions and remarks "wongerful" "wongerful" (i.e. "wonderful", "wonderful"). Chi Ching tells Shonku "You ale gleat" (i.e. "You are great"), but, right after that, he adds "but, I am gleater" (i.e. "but, I am greater"). Professor Shonku fails to understand the meaning of this comment.
Chi Ching departs. But, right after that some unbelievable things start happening in Shonku's house. A common house lizard turns into a Chinese Dragon and smashes his laboratory.
|Professor Shonku o Khoka||
Hidden power/abilities of human brain
|A child who otherwise used to be normal, has "changed" after he fell and hurt his head. Once happy and normal, this child has become melancholy and speaks things which the parents do not follow and term as gibberish. The parents desperately seek help to get their boy back. A doctor finally suggests to see Shonku. Although initially Shonku was reluctant to see this boy as practising medicines is not his profession — after he sees the boy it soon becomes obvious that this is indeed an extraordinary case worthy of his attention. What appeared as gibberish to his parents were actually meaningful facts which should normally be well beyond his or many other peoples reach, spoken in many different languages which the child had no way to learn. He also demonstrates psychic ability, where the flash of a camera stops working after he declares he doesn't want to be pictured but the reporter insists. Although the child seems to be omniscient, he appears sad and detached from the material world. The story ends when the child concocts a potion by mixing several very dangerous chemicals and acids, some of which were Shonku's own inventions, and gulps it down before Shonku had a chance to stop him. A short period of unconsciousness follows, after which the child wakes up as his normal old self. He then makes friends with Shonku, states he has no memory of things which happened in the last few days, and even asks for chocolates.||Giridih||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Bhoot||
Ghost, Human soul
|Professor Shonku invents a device named Neo-Spectroscope that can contact souls of deceased people and starts researching with it. At the same time some people, including Abinash Majumdar, starts reporting Professor Shonku that they have seen him in some places of Giridih and when they called him, he paid no attention. Now, Professor Shonku clearly knows that he was not the person. At the end of the story, Batukeshwar Shonku, grandfather of great grandfather (oti briddho propitamoho) of Shonku appears.||Girdih||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Robu||
|In Giridih, Progessor Shonku makes a robot and names it Robu. One unique feature of Robu is he can solve difficult mathematical problems. Professor Paumer from Germany sends a letter to Professor Shonku, desires to see his work (i.e. the robot) and invites him to Germany. Professor Shonku accepts the invitation and reaches Heidelberg, Germany. In Heidelberg, Robu amazes Professor Paumer by its intelligence and capability of solving mathematical equations. Professor Paumer tells Professor Shonku about Professor Borgelt who also has been researching on Robotics. Professor Borgelt meets Professor Shonku, checks Robu's intelligence and invites Professor Shonku to his palace. On the next evening, when Professor Shonku goes to Professor Borgelt's palace attending his invitation, Professor Borgelt gives him offer to buy his robot. When Professor Shonku rejects his offer, Professor Borgelt attempts to kill him. Robu miraculously saves Professor Shonku and Professor Shonku find a very surprising fact about Professor Borgelt's robotics research.||Giridih, India
|Story||Subject/Topic dealt with||Plot outline||Location of incidence||Characters|
|Abinash Majumdar||Nakur Chandra Biswas||Newton
|Prohllad||Jeremy Saunders||Wilhelm Krol|
|Professor Shonku o Roktomatshya Rahasya||Underwater Mystery||Professor Shonku invents a device named Linguagraph that can translate any earth language to any other, including animal languages (sounds). At the same time Professor Shonku notices a report in a local newspaper that in Gopalpur, Nadia when a group of fishermen pulled their net in from the seat about twenty five bright red fishes jumped out from the net and hopped back to the sea. After two days, Professor Shonku finds another article published in The Statesman which reports a Norwegian youth, when he taking bath in sea, was attacked by some unknown red fish. The Norwegian youth died. Professor Shonku decides to go to Gopalpur to investigate the issue. Abinash Majumdar goes with him. In Gopalpur they meet Hamakura and Tanaka, two Japanese marine zoologists. Professor Shonku learns they have also come to Gopalpur to study those peculiar red fishes. They also informs Professor Shonku that they have a submarine with them and they are going to spend some time underwater and attempt to find those red fishes. Professor Shonku requests Hamakura to take them in journey. Hamakura happily agrees. Hamakura, Tanaka and Professor Shonku, Abinash Majumdar and Newton goes underwater to find those mysterious red fishes.||Giridh, Gopalpur, Nadia
|Professor Shonku o Cochabamba-r Guha||Primitive man||Professor Shonku receives a letter from Professor Hugo Dumbarton informing him a recent earthquake in Cochabamba, Bolivia which broke a mountain in two and thus created a passage between two halves. No one, in human history, has gone behind that mountains. A local village boy was playing hide and seek, and when he went to the mountain caves he saw some colourful paintings in the walls of the cave.
On Professor Dumbarton's invitation, Professor Shonku goes to Cochabamba. There they discover lots of extinct animal species, an unknown animal and a primitive human being, alive!
|Professor Shonku o Gorilla||Gorilla||British zoologist James Massingham goes to Congo to research on gorilla and after few days goes missing. Another British zoologist Julian Gregory sends Shonku a telegram and says that he thinks that Massingham is alive but is in trouble. He also tells Shonku that they are going to the forests of Congo in search of missing Massingham and asks Shonku to join them. Professor Shonku decides to go to Congo. Abinash Majumdar tells Shonku that he wants to go with him. Professor Shonku approves his request and takes Majumdar with him. They reach Kalehe Territory of Congo and sets out in the jungle in search of Massingham. There they encounter gorillas. Shonku notices those gorillas are behaving abnormally, like machine. Massingham and Shonku get kidnapped. Abinash Babu attempts to save Shonku and Massingham.||Congo||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Professor Shonku o Baghdader Baksho||An extraordinary invention of ancient Iraq||Professor Shonku goes to Baghdad, Iraq to attend an international inventors' conference. There he meets Professor Goldstein and Professor Petruci and they discuses on the glory of ancient Sumerian civilisation. They all praise the inventions made in Sumerian civilization.
They meet an Oraqi man named Hasan Al-Hubbal. Al-Hubbal shows them an old box and tells them the box contains something very extraordinary. Shonku and other two professors find out that the box contains a gadget/equipment which very difficult to imagine even in their time, but that was made in ancient Iraq. Goldstein becomes greedy and tries to steal it.
|Swapnadwip||Mysterious island||Professor Shonku is haunted by a repeating dream where he along, with his friends, are stranded on a beautiful exotic island without any inhabitants. His friends also experience the same dream. It is as if the mysterious island is beckoning great scientists of the world to it. Professor Shonku decides to go to the island. Abinash Majumdar also goes with him. There they found unknown plants and Professor Shonku falls in danger. Finally a rescue team saves them and the other scientists. In this story Abinash Babu writes in Professor Shonku's diary for the first and the only time.||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Aschorjo Prani||Miniature Evolution||In a laboratory of St. Gallen, Switzerland, bio-scientist Cornelius Humboldt and Professor Shonku create a miniaturized evolution and there in a flask they create artificial life. In the flask, the stages of evolution pass very quickly and within few days the unicellular animal becomes a miniaturized human being. When Professor Humboldt sees that the mini man in the flask looks like Proefessor Shonku, he tries to kill "original" Shonku.||St. Gallen, Switzerland||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Moru Rahasya||Missing Scientist||A scientist whom Shonku knew, Demetrius, goes missing all of a sudden. Shonku is informed by his friend Somerville, and the two set out to find Demetrius. Events and trails lead Shonku and Somerville to the Sahara desert, where they discover an anstonishing truth about Demetrius and his newest invention, which he had tested on himself before his disappearence.||Greece, Sahara desert||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Corvus||Bird's I.Q.||Shonku experiments on a crow, artificially enhancing its I.Q. many-fold. Shonku displays his crow, 'Corvus' to world's leading ornithologists who had come to attend a conference in San Diego. They are all thrilled by Corvus' intelligence. Later, a magician named Argus offers to buy Corvus from Shonku, but the professor politely refuses. What will Argus do now?||San Diego||No||No||No||No||No||No|
Professor Shonku books
- Professor Shonku New Script, Calcutta 1965.
- Professor Shonkur Kandokarkhana (Professor Shonku's Deeds). Ananda Publishers, Calcutta 1970.
- Shabash Professor Shonku (Bravo Professor Shonku). Ananda Publishers, Calcutta 1974.
- Mahasankatey Shonku (Shonku in Deep Peril). Ananda Publishers, Calcutta 1977.
- Swayang Professor Shonku (None other than Professor Shonku). Ananda Publishers, Calcutta 1980.
- Shonku Ekai Aksho (Shonku, All in All). Ananda Publishers, Calcutta 1983.
- Punashcha Professor Shonku (Shonku once again). Ananda Publishers, Calcutta 1993.
- Selam Professor Shonku (Hats off, Professor Shonku). Ananda Publishers, Calcutta, 1995.
- Shonku Samagra (Complete Shonku collection) Ananda Publishers, Kolkata January 2002, ISBN 81-7756-232-0
- "The Statesman article". The Statesman, Calcutta. 11 January 2002.
- Satyajit Ray
- "Inventing fun". Telegraph Kolkata. 9 August 2011.
- Andrew Robinson (21 February 2004). Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker. I.B.Tauris. pp. 402–. ISBN 978-1-86064-965-3. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Professor Shonku". Satyajit Ray official website. Retrieved 6 May 2013.