Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tagore tales on talkies

The works of Rabindranath Tagore have always fascinated filmmakers, as these are universal — in time, space, emotions and human relationships, writes Shoma A. Chatterji

Rabindranath Tagore’s writings bring up images of lyricism and romance. Many filmmakers feel that the horizon of a Tagore creation — be it poetry, fiction, essay or drama — is too large, all-encompassing, complex and alien to Indian masses, conditioned to ‘popular’ literary figures like Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. Their creations, it is felt, are more cinema-friendly. The 14 remakes of Devdas in different Indian languages is an example.

The homespun philosophy of Sarat Chandra and the romantic spirit of Bankim Chandra had more appeal than the non-conformist and feminist themes, which Tagore dealt with. Yet, Tagore has been recognised as a rich literary source for very good cinema. Satyajit Ray’s films based on Tagore’s works offer the best example. In 1961, Ray made Teen Kanya (Three Daughters), on three Tagore short stories — Postmaster, Monihara and Samapti. The other Tagore works he filmed are Charulata and Ghare Baire.

Tagore’s works are universal — in time, space, emotions and human relationships. They offer filmmakers a challenge to make the film as powerful, credible and appealing on celluloid as it is in print. A film based on, adapted from, interpreted from Tagore’s oeuvre offers scope for argument, discussion, analysis, debate and questions among the audience, critics and scholars. A massive volume of scholarly treatises came out after Satyajit Ray’s Charulata, leading to a new genre — writing on films based on Tagore’s works.

Full report here Tribune

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