Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray – A Unique Connection

The connection between Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray can hardly be ignored: One stalwart was born on 7th of May 1861; the other on 2nd of May 1921 – the former being a Noble laureate and the latter being an Oscar awardee.
One’s literary achievements have been the inspiration for another’s accomplishments in the field of cinema. The influence of Rabindranath Tagore’s literature on Satyajit Ray’s filmmaking is a matter of delight for enthusiasts of this art form.

Who can forget the immortal characters like Ratan in Postmaster?
Or Bimala in Ghare Baire?

Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray make such an incredible pair – one sketched characters with his words; the other brought them to life on the big screen.

About Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray

Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray are individuals who may be referred to as polymath. Rabindranath Tagore was a poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. Satyajit Ray was an Indian author, film director, scriptwriter, lyricist, magazine editor, illustrator, calligrapher, and music composer. Ray was born in Calcutta to renowned writer Sukumar Ray who was prominent in the field of arts and literature. Starting his career as a commercial artist, he was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London. Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (1955), had won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray had both had a prolific career spanning decades of magnificent bodies of work. Tagore has to his credit eight novels, four novellas, eleven drama and many short stories. Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts.

Ray had chosen to adapt on the big screen, stories from Rabindranath Tagore’s vast literary texts on multiple occasions and it struck gold every single time. Three of Ray’s films are from Tagore’s creations – Teen Kanya, Charulata and Ghare Baire – each being characterised by strong female roles. When Feminism wasn’t even a popular word, each of these film’s content was driven by robust character sketches for the female leads.

Teen Kanya

Teen Kanya (meaning Three Daughters) is a 1961 Bengali triptych anthology filmed by Ray to commemorate the birth centenary of Tagore. It is based upon three short stories by Tagore. “The Postmaster” is a story of a pre-adolescent orphan village girl who works as a maid to the newly appointed young postmaster Nandalal. “Monihara” (meaning Lost Jewels) is a tale about Manimalika, a housewife obsessed with jewels and ornaments. “Samapti” (meaning conclusion) is about a village girl named Mrinmoyee.\ and her transformation from a carefree girl to a self-aware wife. Teen Kanya has to its credit, the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali in 1961, The Selznick Golden Laurel for Best Film at the 13th Berlin International Film Festival and Best Indian Film of the year at the 25th Annual BFJA Awards. Ray himself was adjudged the Best Indian Director in the last one. The Academy Film Archive preserved the international version of Teen Kanya in 1996.

Charulata

Charulata allowed Ray to be awarded the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival in 1965. The film itself was awarded the Golden Lotus Award for Best Film at the National Film Awards, India. Based upon the 1901 novel “Nashtanirh” (meaning the broken nest), the film is set in Calcutta in the late nineteenth century. The story revolves around Charulata, a bored housewife and her adulterous pangs when her brother-in-law arrives at the house.

Ghare Baire

Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s classic 1905 novel, Ghare Baire (1984) is a Bengali romantic drama film. It is a beautiful tale of love, companionship, deceit and freedom against the backdrop of the nationalist movement after Lord Curzon’s partition of Bengal. Itexamines the life of Bimala, the wife of an early 20th century aristocrat in Bengal. Ray had suffered two massive heart attacks in 1983. Hence, his son, Sandip Ray had completed the project. Ghare Baire too was bestowed with national Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali at the 32nd National Film Awards in 1985. It was in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.

Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray – the dynamic combination of two Taurus men born 60 years apart is exemplary and admirable. Satyajit Ray, who is believed to have changed the face of Indian cinema forever, was a powerhouse of talent. He has many acknowledgements to his credits, including 32 National Film Awards and an honorary degree from Oxford University. He is also the only Indian filmmaker who was awarded an honorary Oscar for his contribution to the cinematic universe. Ray’s work has been described as full of humanism and universality and simplicity with deep underlying complexity. Tagore’s literature has complimented Ray’s language of cinema thoroughly and successfully.

On his 100th birth anniversary, 2nd of May, 2021 we remember with reverence the auteur that the world knows Bengal for – Satyajit Ray!

Author

Arko

An honest SCORPIO who is crazy about movies, and overly passionate about travel.
Believes in immortalizing the moment, either by way of the photograph or literal documentation of the journey.

22 thoughts on “Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray – A Unique Connection

  • May 3, 2021 at 2:32 pm
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    nice article…in 1961 Ray made a documentary film called “Rabindranath Tagore” based the on life and works of Tagore. He was highly influenced by Tagore. Both of them are inspirations and their works never age.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2021 at 9:10 pm
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    Ray sounds like an amazing dude. Great article and a really enjoyable read.

    Reply
  • May 3, 2021 at 11:19 pm
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    I haven’t heard of either of them, so I appreciate you sharing not only the information but the connection.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 12:10 am
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    This was such an interesting read. I’m always fascinated by reading about influential people in other cultures. It’s such a great learning experience.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 12:12 am
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    These men sound like they were very great, indeed. I was really fascinated with this read. I love how much detail you put into it.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 12:19 am
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    I am fan of Rabindranath poetry,Thanks for sharing with us .

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 2:13 pm
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    Wah I didnot know so many things about these two famous people. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 3:28 pm
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    I love the history in this article, such a fascinating life.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 7:28 pm
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    Thanks for sharing this informative information! I love gaining new information and I definitely love reading this!

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 8:49 pm
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    I am not familiar with either of these artists. There connection was really interesting and I appreciate the opportunity to learn about new people and other cultures. I really enjoyed this post.

    Reply
  • May 4, 2021 at 11:12 pm
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    You’ve definitely shared some really great information here. I learned a lot about this just by reading your article. 🙂

    Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 4:02 am
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    I am not familiar with the people you mentioned. It is nice to learn more about history.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 8:10 am
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    This is an interesting article.I’ve read books of Sathyajith Ray.One of the books I like is the book based on the film ‘Apur Sansar’.I’ve read a translation.Have watched the film as well.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 11:36 am
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    This is such an interesting and informative post. I learned so much and it inspires me

    Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 1:38 pm
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    Thank you for sharing this as this was such an interesting read. Learning about people of influence from other countries peaks my interest especially if they had a significant contribution to the society!

    Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 1:39 pm
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    This is very interesting! First time I heard about it. I’ll read more about this.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 7:37 pm
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    I haven’t heard of them before until now but they sounds amazing. Quite the interesting read and thanks for the share.

    Reply
  • May 5, 2021 at 9:57 pm
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    Very fascinating read. I have to admit I’d never heard of these two gents before, but this was certainly interesting. I love a bit of history!

    Reply
  • May 6, 2021 at 8:24 am
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    Thank you for posting this! Rabindranath Tagore was such an amazing poet, writer, playwright, composer and philosopher! I loved the modern spin he put on linguistic strictures.

    Reply
  • Pingback: 6 Places associated with Rabindranath Tagore in India | Kuntala's Travel Blog

  • May 7, 2021 at 12:15 pm
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    this is a special effort. And most of the info i guess is valuable to many of the readers.

    Reply
  • May 8, 2021 at 5:18 am
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    A fascinating story about connections between two storytellers who share a similar story.

    Reply

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