The 150th birth anniversary of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, which was celebrated the world over on 25 May 2011, is now being commemorated this week by the Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo in association with the Directorate of Film Festivals with a Tagore Film Festival held in Colombo.
The Festival, which kicked off earlier this week on 1 September at the NFC Cinema, will go on until 5 September. The event was inaugurated the Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation Dr. Sarath Amunugama and was presided over by the High Commissioner of India Ashok. K. Kantha.
Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music. Author of Gitanjali, he was the first non-European Nobel laureate. He is revered as both a poet and a seer for his lifelong pursuit to see and feel the hand of God in nature. This raised his poetry to sublime levels of mysticism. He gave a new identity to Indian literary ethos, casting a global spell with his ‘pen’ that has withstood the vagaries of time. Patriotism, courage, love and a vision for fellow human beings were at the heart of his most creative impulse, giving a great sustaining power to his thoughts and writings.
Tagore also composed 2,230 songs and was a prolific painter. His songs compose rabindrasangit (‘Tagore Song’), which is one with his literature, most of which - poems or parts of novels, stories, or plays alike - were lyricised. While eloquently speaking for Indian values, culture and sensibilities, he wrote with great universal humanism.
The voice of this ‘world poet’ was one of an entire era, of humanity at large and the timeless writings Tagore continues to be compellingly relevant across time, even after a century and a half of his birth.
‘Pather Panchali’, a 1955 Bengali drama film written and directed by Satyajit Ray, was the first film featured at the festival. The director’s directorial debut, the film narrates the story of an impoverished Bengalese family. It was the first movie from independent India to attract major international critical attention and went on to win ‘Best Human Document’ at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, establishing Satyajit Ray as a major international filmmaker. Today, ‘Pather Panchali’ is considered one of the greatest films ever made.
Chokher Bali, a Bengali film based on the novel Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore, directed by Rituparno Ghosh in 2003, was screened yesterday. However, Satyajit Ray’s works dominate the programme at the Tagore film festival, which will feature his film ‘Ghare Baire’ today and screen ‘Agantuk’ tomorrow.
The festival will fittingly end on 5 September with ‘Rabindranath Tagore’, a documentary in English and ‘Charulata’, a film once again directed by Satyajit Ray.