Rabindra Jayanti special: 5 Rabindranath Tagore's novels made into films
There cannot be a second Rabindranath Tagore. His skills as a poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter remain unparalleled even today. Every year, his birth anniversary is celebrated as a cultural holiday in West Bengal and other parts of the world. This year, why not celebrate Rabindra Jayanti by watching one of these five films adapted from Tagore's novels or stories?
Be it the condition of widows, or female friendship and sexuality, Chokher Bali was an extremely well-layered story. Based on a love triangle (or square), the novel focused on class divisions as well as societal constrictions. Renowned filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh had brought these to life intricately in his 2003 venture. Featuring Prosenjit Chatterjee and Raima Sen, this marked Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's Bengali film debut.
Satyajit Ray adapted Tagore's novel, Ghare Baire, into an evergreen cinema in 1984. Set in 1905 Bengal, when the Swadeshi Movement was raging, the story captured the journey of an upper-class woman (played by Swatilekha Chatterjee) into the outside world from the confines of her restricted homely sphere. This transition is facilitated by her liberal husband (Victor Banerjee) and his radical friend (Soumitra Chatterjee).
Director Zul Vellani brought Tagore's 1912 play to Bollywood with Dak Ghar in 1965. It told the story of Amal, a young boy with an incurable disease who is trapped inside his house by the orders of a local pandit/doctor. Only link to the outside world is his idealized notion of a post office and its working. It starred Balraj Sahni, Mukri, and Vellani.
Another poignant piece of cinema by Ray, Charulata (1964) was adapted from Tagore's novel, Nastanirh (meaning "the broken nest"). Set during Bengali Renaissance, it featured Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee), an upper-class woman who's married to a pragmatic newspaper editor (Sailen Mukherjee). The "lonely wife" (the film's English title) found company and perhaps love in her visiting cousin-in-law (Soumitra Chatterjee), who shared her love for literature.
Kabuliwala (1892) is perhaps one of the most well-known short stories by Tagore among the kids. It talked about the beautiful friendship between an Afghan fruitseller in Kolkata, Rehmat, and a five-year-old girl, Mini. Despite being adapted to the screens multiple times, acclaimed filmmaker Tapan Sinha's 1957 film remains a favorite. Here, Sharmila Tagore's sister Oindrila had played Mini in her only acting role.