As Bioscopewala comes to theatres, a look at other films inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's works
Deb Medhekar's upcoming film Bioscopewala is based on Rabindranath Tagore's short story Kabuliwala.
Rabindranath Tagore is associated instantaneously with the National Anthem 'Jana Gana Mana'.
But the man was so much more! This is reflected most in the field of cinema; while the Bengali film industry has made numerous adaptations, contemporary retellings of Tagore's novels, others (especially Bollywood) have rarely done anything around him or his works.
With Deb Medhekar's Bioscopewala — starring Danny Denzongpa, Geetanjali Thapa, Tisca Chopra and Adil Hussain — that void seems to be filling; every tiny drop counts. Medhekar's film is based on Tagore's short story Kabuliwala (which has had many screen/ theatre adaptations) and is an extrapolation of the sweet-and-sad, heart-rendering story of Mini and the Afghan peddler.
Here's a look at different films that found inspiration in Tagore. From the likes of Satyajit Ray, Rituparno Ghosh and Gulzar — all have tried their bit to revisit the literary genius.
Probably one of the most celebrated films of Satyajit Ray, Charulata is considered a bold film — both for the progressive story as well as the cinematic treatment that Ray had given it. Starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee and Shailen Mukherjee in lead roles, Charulata is based on Tagore's novel Nastaneer. The story is set in the 1870s and revolves around Charu, a lonely wife of a newspaper editor who befriends her brother-in-law. Over time, their mutual affection transcends from friendship to something more.
The movie is a celebrated piece of work and is appreciated not just in India, but across the world.
Another monumental work by Ray, Ghare Baire is based on Tagore's 1916 novel of the same name. It is based around a 20th-century household of an aristocrat who doesn't believe in keeping the women of the house within any boundaries or constraints. The situation changes when one of the aristocrat's friends, who claims to be a freedom fighter, comes to stay with them and seduces the aristocrat's wife with his nationalistic speeches on Swadeshi movement and enigmatic personality.
Ghare Baire — starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee and Swatilekha Sengupta — is often called one of Ray's weaker works; it faced criticism both from the audience as well as the critics upon release.
Ray's Teen Kanya was an anthology of three films — Samapti, Postmaster and Monihara — which are again based on Tagore's short stories of the same name. The films were three independent stories but linked to each other through their central female characters. While the Indian audiences saw all the three films, western cinephiles didn't get to see Monihara, reports The Times of India.
Note: Ray also made a documentary (probably the only one) on the Nobel winner, which is no less than a treasure trove.
After Ray, if there's been one filmmaker who has taken upon himself to reinvent and reintroduce Tagore to the new, changing generation it is the late director Rituparno Ghosh. His film, Chokher Bali was a major crossover (Bengali-Bollywood) film with Aishwarya Rai in the lead role along with the Bengali film industry's superstar Prasenjit Chatterjee, Raima Sen and Tota Roy Choudhary.
Based on Tagore's novel Binodini, it chronicled a widow's journey who finds herself in circumstances of utter grief, distrust, infidelity, adultery, lust, love, loss. after she arrives at a house where she meets a man (who had earlier refused to marry her), his newly-wed wife and his friend.
Based on Tagore's book of the same name, this film by Rituparno Ghosh revolves around a man who marries a woman out of his choice. He and his newly-wed wife meet with an accident on a journey. After living with her for few months, the man realises that on the night of the accident he and his bride got separated and the woman he thinks to be his wife is actually wed to another man.
Uphaar could easily be called 'commercial' Bollywood's first tryst with Tagore. Made in 1971, Uphaar featured Jaya Bachchan (Bhaduri then) in the leading role. The film was based on Tagore's novel Samapti and revolved around a village belle who is married to a young man. Still childish in nature, the woman never feels any love for her husband until they are separated. The distance between them brings about a change in the woman; she matures and develops feelings for her estranged husband.
The film was an official entry from India at the 45th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Film category, but it couldn't make it to the final nomination list.
The 1965 film, made by Tapan Sinha, is also based on Tagore's novel of the same name. The story revolves around a dreamy young boy who leaves his home in search of more from life. On the way, he befriends a family who develops a liking towards him. They adopt him and later get him married to their daughter. After years, the boy (now adult) leaves them too in his pursuit of more.
This 1946 film, made by Nitin Bose, starred Dilip Kumar and was based on Tagore's Noukadubi.
Gulzar's 1991 film Lekin is loosely based on Tagore's Kshudit Pashaan. The film starred Dimple Kapadia, Vinod Khanna, Amjad Khan and Hema Malini (in a guest appearance) and is set in Rajasthan. The film also marked Lata Mangeshkar's first productional debut. Lekin is also a remarkable film for the impeccable music composition of Pt Hridayanath Mangeshkar.
The story revolved around a tax collector who comes to a desert-village in Rajasthan where he meets a mysterious woman, whose existence itself is questionable. The man gets befuddled and can't somehow figure whether the woman really exists or is a mere figment of his imagination.
Stories by Rabindranath Tagore
Filmmaker Anurag Basu developed a TV series for EPIC Channel where he handpicked some of Tagore's short stories like Chokher Bali, Charulata, Kabuliwala, Detective, Samapti, Chutti, etc and made them into two or three-episode long TV stories.
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