Stories By Rabindranath Tagore

In school days I used to read a lot of anthologies- collections of short stories. I would always search in the school library to take a book home for the summer holidays. Saki, O.Henry, Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Ruskin Bond- the list went on increasing gradually. If I couldn’t find a suitable book there, I would scavenge through the dusty book piles in our neighbour aunty’s residence. Even Sony di would promptly share with me her favorite reads and we would discuss the stories for hours. It was from her that I first read the short stories by Rabindranath Tagore in 8th grade. Kabuliwalah and The Postmaster found their roots in my teenage curious little mind ever since.

I watched the Aishwariya Rai starrer ‘Chokher Bali’ directed by Rituparno Ghosh during the college days. It raised several questions in my impressionable fertile mind about marriage, society, rules and desires. I couldn't really understand then why Binodini did what she did with Ashalata whom she had considered a naive yet loyal friend. I couldn't understand why the husband wanted to leave his virtuous wife, and why desire turned and twisted Binodini’s life in such a way. It was only in 2016 that I finally read the book, and realized how progressive Tagore's ideas were, not only way ahead of his times but also apt for today's generations. Widow remarriage still remains a taboo. The society hasn't changed much for women since then.

A Scene from Epic's series

Rereading some of the stories in later stages of life made me see things in a new light, notice plots and characters that had gone unnoticed earlier. Different aspects appealed to me now.

Women form a very strong, passionate, central characters for his stories, with a mind of their own. They voice their opinions and thoughts. They are not restrained by the ways of their husbands, in-laws and society. They have a self certain rebellious streak, that shows itself when they are oppressed. They make their own decisions, are not mere mute spectators to obey anyone unquestioningly. Rabindranath Tagore was a true feminist and it showed in his writings.

Recently there was an adaptation of the Nobel laureate's stories by acclaimed Indian director Anurag Basu on Epic channel, India’s first Infotainment. The first season of the series was aired in 2015. Radhika Apte and Amrita Puri starred in the stories of Chokher Bali and Charulata respectively. It garnered lots of appreciation from the audiences as the universal themes of Tagore’s humane stories were brought alive on screen by Basu’s keen eye for details. It was Epic’s widely appreciated show. I remember watching the episodes back to back on Sundays in 2016. I rarely watch TV, but such few gems make me switch on the otherwise idiot box. Few episodes are now available on Youtube and Netflix.

Kabuliwalah (Youtube)

Once again I enjoyed the retelling of Chokher Bali. Radhika Apte played the role of Binodini very well. The best thing in the series was the acting, the old world charm of the Bengal then, the heritage buildings of Calcutta and the slow and steady progress of the story, just as it happens in the books.

Manbhanjan” - I had loved this tale. It's a story of a woman, Giribala, whose husband, Gopinath, falls out of love with her, enchanted by a stage actress, Latika. He visits the theatre actress every night after spending the evening watching the play. Giribala goes to the theatre one evening out of curiosity to see who Latika is, and to devise ways to save her marriage. She is enamoured by the lights, the colors and the costumes there. The world of drama, the art itself pulls her in. Gopinath and Latika elope eventually to live in a hill station. Months pass. Giribala, who once considered marriage as the purpose of her life, immerses herself in art. When Gopinath and Latika return to find out more about the actress who has taken Latika’s place in the theatre group and is getting praises and accolades, they are in for a surprise. She is none other than Giribala, the one who plays Radha with as much delicate poise as she plays Mira.

Atithi (Youtube)

Atithi’ is a story that makes me think of every meeting and parting in my life. People are passe. They don't stay. When they leave we are left with only a deep heartache, and several memories, without a hint if their whereabouts. It's an endearing tale about the teenage carefree days, and the first essence of growing attachment with a person.

Mrinal Ki Chithi” is deep. A woman's rebel against the bigoted, unfair, unkind mindset of her in-laws. A woman's resolve to live life on her own principles and not to succumb to the ways of the family she belongs to. Mrinal tries to help a young orphan girl Bindu, who is distantly related to the family. Bindu is ill treated by the members, and is finally married off to a mentally unstable suitor. Mrinal realises that the family and the society is equally responsible for Bindu’s fate, and society is unforgiving to women of her era. She escapes from there and sends a letter to her husband putting her thoughts on paper, with a message of never to return.

Even when i rewatch the promos of the episodes, I cannot help being teary eyed. I love these stories.

I am participating in the #AToZChallenge with #BlogchatterA2Z and I am sharing posts themed around Art for this entire month of April. Share and connect with me on social media.
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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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