Love and Friendship

5 films that explore Tagore’s love stories

On Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday today, we explore the beautiful and often complicated relationships he wrote about
  1. Postmaster (2016)

Directed by Srijon Bardhan and starring Ishan Mazumdar in the coveted lead role of Postmaster (loosely based on Rabindranath Tagore’s short story of the same name), the Bengali film, officially released in June 2016, revolves around the protagonist, a youthful and free-spirited man Nanda Sen. He is transferred to the village of Plassey as the Postmaster. He falls in love and subsequently marries Ratna, an orphaned village girl, belonging to so-called lower caste. It comes to light that the postmaster’s urban family and social circle are unhappy with the marriage. With an almost heart-wrenching anti-climax where Nanda surrenders to fulfil his father’s last wish of getting married to a suitable match (of his father’s choice), leaves behind the simplicity of village life and Ratna for a new life in the city. The film had its first premiere in 2015 at the 4th Delhi International Film Festival and also earned an official selection in 2017 at the 14th Chennai International Film Festival. In Tagore’s original work they do not get married and the most poignant part is when Nanda finally leaves the village after he recovers from illness ably nursed by Ratna. Something which is deftly handled in Ray’s film by the same name.

  1. Elar Char Adhyay (2012)

The film, directed by Bappaditya Bandopadhyay and officially released in the year 2012 is adapted from a Bengali novel of the same name penned by Tagore. Starring Paoli Dam in the lead role of Ela, the Bengali period drama beautifully captures the essence of the growing unrest revolving around the British Raj and the subsequent development of the Bengal Renaissance Movement in the 1940s era. Indranath, portrayed by Indraneil Sengupta plays a significant role as a leader of a group based in Bengal fighting for independence of their country. Paoli, the seasoned actor leaves a long-lasting impression on the audience’s mind by her sophisticated portrayal of Ela, a teacher in the group, who has to make the toughest choice between her love and the love for her motherland.

Related Reading: Chitrangada: the woman who changed gender to marry Arjun

  1. Ghare Baire (1984)

Based on Tagore’s novel by the same name Ghare Baire traces the life of a zamindar Nikhilesh and his wife Bimala and how he believes in the empowerment of women making her learn English and the ways of the outside world. But things take a turn when the revolutionary Sandip comes to their life and Bimala is attracted to him. Nikhilesh is sensible and mature enough to understand what is happening but he lets Bimala take her decisions. A brilliant film exploring love and relationships and it is considered one of Satyajit Ray’s masterpieces. Tagore penned the story in 1916 and it was much ahead of his time.

A brilliant film exploring love and relationships and it is considered one of Satyajit Ray’s masterpieces.

  1. The Bong Connection (2006)

Directed by the prolific filmmaker Anjan Dutt, this Bengali-English language movie released all over India and worldwide in 2006. Starring Shayan Munshi, Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Raima Sen among others, the storyline revolves around the lives of NRI Bengalis and the Bengalis residing in Kolkata and the complex dynamics between them. The plot and screenplay are depicted as a beautiful amalgamation of Tagore’s work and Dutt’s innovative ideas. The song by Tagore, Pagla Hawar Badol Dine, sung by Shreya Ghoshal in an alternate rendition was well-appreciated by majority of the audience.

The plot and screenplay are depicted as a beautiful amalgamation of Tagore’s work and Dutt’s innovative ideas

Related Reading: Was Rabindranath Tagore in love with his Argentinian muse?

  1. Chokher Bali (2003)

This Bengali film directed by prominent filmmaker late Rituparno Ghosh is based on a Bengali language novel Chokher Bali by Tagore and is the recipient of several accolades and awards, including the prestigious National Film Award. The plot revolves around the lives of Ashalata (played by Raima Sen) and Binodini (played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). Binodini is a widow after her aged husband suddenly expires and she gets involved in an extra-marital affair with Mahendra, Ashalata’s husband. Ashalata leaves for Kashi after discovering the affair but she doesn’t know she is pregnant. Behari as Mahendra’s brother also plays a significant role in the drama. In popular culture, women who are best of friends often refer to each other by nicknames and similarly, as depicted in the movie, Binodini and Ashalata refer to each other as “Chokher Bali”. Tagore brilliantly tackles the complications that love creates in relationships.

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