May 7, 2020 marked the 159th birth anniversary of the great Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore’s literary works have inspired a number of renowned filmmakers including Satyajit Ray. While various adaptations of Kabuliwala are popular among non-Bengali audiences, there are several other films that you must not miss. So, we have made a list of six movie adaptations of Rabindranath Tagore’s work for everyone who is looking to explore.
1) Choker Bali
Choker Bali marked the Bengali debut of Aishwarya Rai. Directed by Rituparno Ghosh, the 2003 movie explores the life of Binodini, a widow, who is having an affair with Mahendra (Prosenjit Chatterjee). Choker Bali attacks several prejudices surrounding women in a subtle but powerful manner. Rai’s performance as Binodini will stay with you for a long time. Also starring Raima Sen and Tota Roy Chowdhury, Choker Bali won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali in 2005.
2) Ghare Baire
Directed by none other than Satyajit Ray himself, Ghare Baire is a movie that will engage you both personally and politically. Starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee and Jennifer Kendal in the lead roles, the story is set in the aftermath of the partition of Bengal (1905). Besides its overwhelming political themes, which is relevant even today, watch the movie to see how Ray tackles the issue of the emancipation of women. Besides winning the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali, Ghare Baire competed for the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival
3) Char Adhyay
Char Adhyay, helmed by Kumar Shahani, is another movie that stands the test of time. Released in 1997, the political drama delves into the life of Ela, who is part of a group of revolutionaries. Consistent with Tagore’s works, Char Adhyay also questions the role of a woman in a man’s world and at the same time, explores the impact of blind nationalism. The movie made waves upon its release as the cast largely consisted of non-actors.
Chaturanga is an emotional drama that revolves around the question – what happens when love clashes with your beliefs and ideals? The protagonist (played excellently by Subrat Datta) finds himself swaying between two conflicting ideas – rationalism and religion, and two women – a widow and a mistress. Chastity, existentialism, morality, religion, misogyny and female sexuality are all dealt with in Chaturanga
5) Tasher Desh
Tasher Desh is a complete digression from the traditional adaptations of Tagore. So, if you are looking for a faithful retelling of the story, this movie is not for you. Directed by Q of Gandu fame, Tasher Desh is more of a “trippy adaptation”. I recommend you to give it a shot because you just might be surprised.
No list on Rabindranath Tagore is complete without mentioning this classic movie. Considered to be one of Satyajit Ray’s best films, Charulata is the heartbreaking tale of a lonely housewife who finds love again in an enthusiastic and intellectually-charged cousin of her husband. With stunning performances by Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee, the movie is a definite must-watch.
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