Professor Shonku
Professor Shonku (in the middle) along with his English friend Jeremy Saunders and German friend Wilhelm Kroll
First appearanceByomjatrir Diary
Last appearanceSwarnaparnee
Created bySatyajit Ray
Portrayed byDhritiman Chatterjee
In-universe information
Full nameTrilokeshwar Shonku
NicknameTilu, Shanks
RelativesTripureswar Shonku (father)
Batukeshwar Shonku (great-great grandfather (অতি বৃদ্ধ পৌরপিতামহ)
  • Newton (cat, permanent)
  • Macaw (macaw)
  • Dhimu (slow loris)
  • Corvus (crow)
  • EA (Extraordinary Animal - a new type of undiscovered monkey type animal)
  • Bidhusekhar
  • Compu
  • Robu
Language skillsCapable of speaking 69 languages
Mother tongueBengali
DegreeB.Sc; Honorary doctorate from the Swedish Academy of Sciences

Professor Trilokeshwar Shonku (Bengali: প্রফেসর শঙ্কু) is a fictional scientist and inventor created by Satyajit Ray in a series of Bengali science fiction books of the same name published from 1965 on. He is the central protagonist of the series. Professor Shonku resides in Giridih. His house contains a laboratory, and he lives with his pet cat, Newton, named after Sir Isaac Newton and his man-servant, Prahlad. He was born in the year of 1912 but his year of death is unknown.

Character development

Introduction to the character

Professor Trilokeshwar Shonku (known popularly as Professor Shonku) is the protagonist of Satyajit Ray's series "The Adventures of Professor Shonku."

The first story of the series introduced him, in "ব্যোমযাত্রীর ডায়রি" (Byomjatrir Diary).

Professor Shonku's father Tripureshwar was a physician. Professor Shonku was born on 16 June 1912. His nickname is Tilu. Professor Shonku passed matriculation examination of the University of Calcutta at the age of 12. 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.[1]

Professor Shonku is a polyglot who knows 69 languages. His pet cat 'Newton' is 24 years old.


Ray admitted that he had based Prof. Shonku on the character Professor Challenger, by Arthur Conan Doyle,[2] and a character created by Ray's father Sukumar Ray named Hesoram Hushiar. Ray himself described Shonku as a “mild-mannered Professor Challenger”.

Recurring characters

Inventions of Professor Shonku

(This list may be incomplete.)

Summary of adventures

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:

The first story in the series is about the Professor's journey to Mars on a rocket of his own manufacture, with Bidhusekhar, a robot, Prahlad, his man-servant and Newton the cat for company. After a fearful encounter with the Martians, they flee from Mars, and land on planet Tafa, populated by large black ants who welcome Shonku as one of their own.

A child hurts his head, thereby acquiring extraordinary ability of omniscience, by speaking in multiple languages, and reciting lines of Shakespeare. He is brought under Shonku's care, in a desperate attempt by the parents to bring the child back to normal. Finally, he cures himself by a concoction of his own creation, including dangerous chemicals, some of which are Shonku's inventions.

Professor Shonku meets a fakir who has this ability to re-animate a living thing from its bones. Shonku tries to investigate, and to do so, he records the spell using his recorder, which enrages the fakir and causes him to curse Shonku. Later in his life, Shonku along with an assistant discovers the remains of a dinosaur in a cave. The curse starts to take effect and the dinosaur comes back to life.

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.

Shonku holding Newton (on left) and Abinashbabu and Nakur Chandra Biswas (on right, respectively), Prahlad (at back)

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. The plants seep people's intelligence and attracts their attention using dreams.

Shonku goes to Tibet, to find out about a Unicorn which is reported to be seen there. In the adventure, Shonku discovers a place where everybody's dreams come true... a Utopia.

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?

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.

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.

This is the story of a young Shonku and the invention of his Miracurall and the time when he visited Germany on the eve of World War II. A fascinating story about how Shonku went on to meet Hermann Göring and finally evaded the Nazis.

List of adventures

Main article: List of Professor Shonku adventures

Professor Shonku books

Professor Shonku in other media


Some Professor Shonku stories have been made into comics and published by Ananda Publishers.


In the Sunday Suspense Series of 98.3 Radio Mirchi several Professor Shonku stories were performed by RJs, like Mir, Deep, Agni and Somak. They became very popular.


In 2017, an English language Professor Shonku's animated film was released titled The Shonku Diaries: A Unicorn Adventure, based on Ek Shringa Abhijan.


Main article: Professor Shonku O El Dorado

The film was announced officially in November 2017.[4][5] It is titled Professor Shonku O El Dorado. Pre-production of the film started in 2018 and it was released on 20 December 2019.[6] The film is based on the story Nakurbabu O El Dorado. Actor Dhritiman Chatterjee, who acted in a number of films by Satyajit Ray, portrayed the title role in the film, produced by Shree Venkatesh Films.[7] In the film Nakurbabu is portrayed by Subhasish Mukherjee. The film is directed by the son of Satyajit Ray, Sandip Ray.

See also


  1. ^ "The Statesman article". The Statesman, Calcutta. 11 January 2002.
  2. ^ "Satyajit Ray". 8 August 2010. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ "Inventing fun". Telegraph Kolkata. 9 August 2011. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014.
  4. ^ IANS (30 November 2017). "Satyajit Ray's scientist-inventor character Professor Shonku gets a big screen adaptation". FirstPost. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Satyajit Ray's popular character Professor Shonku set to come alive on celluloid". News 18.
  6. ^ Himatsingka, Anuradha (30 November 2017). "Now Satyajit Ray's Professor Shonku set to come alive on film" – via The Economic Times.
  7. ^ "আসছে 'প্রফেসর শঙ্কু', আপনি তৈরি তো".