Rabindranath Tagore is not just a name, but a whole culture in one. Be it our national anthem, to the literature chapters in our textbooks, to the soul-stirring music, to the stories that made us feel good, and shattered us some time, Tagore and his brilliance have followed us at each stage of our lives. “Jodi tor dak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla cholo re,” Tagore wrote these iconic words and inspired the whole world with them.
The man wasn’t just another soul to have walked on the face of this Earth, but a living, breathing embodiment of art. Not just musicians and painters, but Tagore, with his brilliance, have even influenced the film industries across the globe. Time and again, filmmakers have adapted his written work, or sometimes drew references to it.
Be it, Satyajit Ray who brought his depth to the narratives with his visual artistry, or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who embodied the most complex of Tagore characters, it has forever been a treat. Below are a few times films took inspiration from the legend and aced it.
CHOKHER BALI (2013)
Rituparno Ghosh is a master at visually retelling stories that have enthralled audiences on paper. Giving her Raincoat actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan her Bengali debut, Ghosh made Rabindranath Tagore’s most popular story Chokher Bali. The most visually stunning retelling of the tale starred Tota Roy Chowdhary, Prosenjit Sen and Raima Sen alongside Rai. Adultery, narcissism, treachery, and distrust all made Chokher Bali a must-watch.
Every time someone talks about Satyajit Ray and the influence Rabindranath Tagore had on his work, the first name to pop up will be Charulata. An adaptation of Nastanirh or The Broken Nest, the film is about a woman – Charu played by Madhabi Mukherjee, who craves love from an ignorant husband. When her brother-in-law gives her some attention, feelings develop, and the story progresses. Said to be one of Ray’s best work, Charulata needs to be watched no matter what generation you are born in.
The most adorable of the Rabindranath Tagore works. A short story that never gets old, and has seen numerous adaptation in different formats. But the magic is that it never fails to bring a smile to our faces. Tapan Sinha’s moving adaptation of the film in 1961 touched hearts in every possible manner. A man who comes to a foreign land, develops a bond with a little girl. He is imprisoned for a decade for a crime, and the girl fails to recognise him when he comes back. We all skipped a beat!
GHARE BAIRE (1984)
Another Satyajit Ray film inspired by Tagore’s work. Ghare Baire must have been about a love triangle that looked intensely personal. But it was sharply political for its times. Combine with it Ray, who has always had a piercing commentary about the society, Ghare Bhaire went on to be more alarming than it already was.
DO BIGHA ZAMEEN (1953)
Rabindranath Tagore empathised with the working class and always became their voice in a way. Dui Bigha Jomi, a poem, was made into a film by Bimal Roy and starred Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy in the lead. Showcasing the plight of a farmer who is forced to migrate in order to save his lands, Do Bigha Zameen was the first Indian film to win the International Prize at the Cannes film festival and the first film to win the Best Film at the Filmfare awards.