Rabindranath as seen through the Cinematic Lens
n the 152nd Birth Anniversary of the Nobel Laureate and arguably the Greatest Bard from Bengal, Tollywood Dhamaka takes a look at the presence of Rabindranath Tagore in Indian Cinema.
Various stories by Tagore have been adapted on the silver screen, and most of them have been done in Bengali. Satyajit Ray perhaps leads the surge with having directed a total of five stories (three films) from page unto screen. The stories Ray adapted unto screen are: Nashtaneer (Charulata : 1964); Ghare Baire (Ghare Baire : 1984); The Post Master, Monihara and Samapti (Teen Kanya : 1961). Needless to say, that each one is a true masterpiece; and, is widely revered.
Rituparno Ghosh is the other Bengali Director, who has done three films based on Tagore’s works viz. Chokher Bali (2003), Noukadubi (2011) and Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish (2013). The film Charulata 2011 by Agnidev Chatterjee was made as an inspiration from both Tagore and Ray. Director Suman Mukherjee made the film Chaturanga based on the story by the same name, in 2008; while in 2012 Bappaditya Bandopadhyay made Elar Chaar Adyay based on the novel Char Adhyay by Tagore.
It is interesting to note that the story – Samapti, which was made into a film by Satyajit Ray in 1961 and marked the debut of Aparna Sen; was also adapted on-screen, a decade later, for the Hindi audience and had Jaya Bachchan (nee Bhaduri) as the lead. The film was named Uphaar and was produced by Tarachand Barjatya of Rajshri Productions; directed by Sudhendu Roy and was sent as India’s Official Entry into the Academy Awards under Best Foreign Language Film in 1971.
Tagore’s story of a middle-aged fruit seller from Afghanistan, coming to Calcutta to hawk his merchandise and befriending a small Bengali girl – yes, the eponymous story of the Kabuliwala was made into two different films, one in Bengali (1957) and one in Hindi (1961).
Two stalwarts essayed the role of the Kabuliwala, with Chhabi Biswas donning the cap in Bengali and Balraj Sahni in its Hindi make, and both excelled tremendously in delivering a superlative and unforgettable performance.
Suman Ghosh made a film Nobel Chor, starring Mithun Chakraborty, based on the incident of Tagore’s Nobel Award being stolen from Shantiniketan.
Controversial filmmaker Q (Qaushiq Mukherjee) had joined hands with Anurag Kashyap production to make Tasher Desh, a “trippy adaptation” from Tagore’s namesake play and even though it premiered in Rome, November last year; the film is yet to see a theatrical release in India.
Time and again, filmmakers have relied on the genius of Tagore for inspiration and truly, a great story has never failed to inspire. Or as in Tagore’s case; all his works have always inspired generations of Indians.
He lives on, truly and immortally with a vast ocean of work behind him. We look forward to many more films made from his stories as our appetite for them is quite insatiable.