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.
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 (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 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.
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!
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.