Remembering Gurudev’s Stories in Indian Cinema
Writer, Poet, Philosopher, Singer, Dancer, Painter and Teacher, Robindronath Thakur lived as the Biswamanav he preached about. Its been 78 years since his death and still presence lingers in the Literary and Cinematic traditions of India.
Rabindranath Tagore’s stories has provided a distinct vision to Literature and Indian Cinema. Over the years his stories have been adapted into many movies. Not just his stories but his songs have also been incorporated in the lyrics of many Bollywood songs. The nuanced portrayal of his character sketches make their stories relatable to yours, as if you would have known them at some point of time and leaves an familiarity built which lasts for a lifetime.
Here are some of the movies that are a few of the best picks from the many adaptations of Gurudev’s stories:
- 1. Noukadubi (Boat wreck) is a Bengali novel written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1906. Nitin Bose adapted the story in Hindi in 1946, as Milan and in Bangla in 1947. Tatineni Prakash Rao made a Tamil adaptation as Mathar Kula Manickam and a Telugu adaptation as Charana Daasi in 1956. A superhit Telugu movie based on the same story was made by Muthyala Subbaiah as Oka Chinna Maata, in 1997. 1960 Hindi adaptation Ghunghat by Ramanand Sagar was well appreciated for its music, "Lage Na Mora Jiya" and "Mori Chham Chham Baje Payaliya" sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It was recently remade 2011 with Raima Sen.
- 2. Chokher Bali is a 1903 Bengali novel by Rabindranath Tagore, it explores the extramarital affair between Binodini, a young widow, and Mahendra, one of the three other main characters, the complicated friendship with Asha, his girl-wife, and her mutually conflicting feelings with Behari, Mahendra's adopted brother. Rituparno Ghosh made a famous Bangla adaptation of the story with actress Aishwarya Rai playing the character of Binodini. Chokher Bali has a Netflix adaptation as well with Radhika Apte sketching Binodini.
- 3. Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) is a 1916 novel written by Tagore, it was adapted by Satyajit Ray in Bangla, which went on to win a National award.
- 4. Nastanirh is another novel written by Tagore in 1901 and was adapted as Charulata (in English also known as The Lonely Wife) by Satyajit Ray in 1964; the film is considered one of the greatest films ever made. It was remade by Agnidev Chatterjee in 2011.
- 5. Hungry Stones (Bengali: Khudito Pashan) is a Bengali short story written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1895. Woman. It had a very interesting adaptation done by Gulzar in the movie Lekin. The story is about a tax collector, Srijut, who is sent to a small town and stays at a former palace which is believed to be haunted. Every night he becomes more consumed by the spirits of the inhabitants of the palace from the Mughal times and a beautiful woman. Dimple Kapadia plays the role of beautiful ghost and Vinod Khanna is the government official sent to the haunted town.The film was produced by Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar, whose rendition of "Yara Seeli Seeli" won the 1991 National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer.
- 6. Kabuliwala is a Bengali short story written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1892. The story is of a Pashtun merchant from Kabul, who comes to Calcutta (present day Kolkata), India each year for selling dry-fruits and while living in India and becomes friends with a five year old girl Mini. It was first adapted by Tapan Sinha in 1957 in Bangla and then a Hindi adaptation of the same was made in 1961 by Bimal Roy, in which the role of Kabuliwala was played by Balraj Sahni. Deb Medhekar Bioscopewala, has taken forward the timeline of Kabuliwala, the original story written by Rabindranath Tagore, from the 19th century to somewhere in the 1980s during the Taliban regime and changed the profession of Rehmat, the central character, from a dry fruit seller to a man who goes around showing films to children through his bioscope. The film stars Danny Denzongpa and Geetanjali Thapa in lead roles and had its world premiere at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival on 28 October 2017.
In 2012 Hindi channel Doordarshan broadcast a 26-episode television series based the Tagore's novel Gora (1909) by producer Gargi Sen and director Somnath Sen. In 2015, Anurag Basu adapted many short stories of Tagore in a show titled Stories by Rabindranath Tagore, which was aired on EPIC channel. Directors Abhijit Guha and Sudeshna Roy ran a series of Tagore's stories titled Robi Thakurer Golpo, which was aired on Colors Bangla and was launched on 19 November 2015.