Some of the master storytellers from the world of literature are now the protagonists of a number of upcoming films that explore their real persona. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is set to play writer Saadat Hasan Manto in his biopic, Sonakshi Sinha is likely to play Amrita Pritam in a film on the Sahir Ludhianvi-Amrita love story.
And Victor Banerjee will be playing Rabindranath Tagore, in a film that explores his relationship with writer Victoria Ocampo. Poet, writer, playwright, composer and philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore was influenced by numerous women in his life, who inspired him to pen women characters that were way ahead of their times. His muses were strong, free-willed women, and his relationship with them has been much discussed and written about — be it his relationship with his sister-in-law and first muse Kadambari Devi, or with Victoria, the Argentine writer.
Director Pablo Cesar is making a movie titled Thinking of Him, an Indo-Argentine production, that focuses on Tagore’s meeting with Victoria, fondly addressed by him as Bijoya in his letters. The approximately 100 minute long film will have four to five songs.
In 1924, while on his way to Peru, Tagore had fallen ill, and spent two months recuperating in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where Victoria took care of him.
Talking about stepping into Tagore’s shoes, Victor, says, “I have to understand how much she really felt for him as a woman, and as an intellectual. There are two aspects to it — one is the sensual or the physical aspect, and the other is the mental or intellectual aspect. The girl who is playing Victoria in the film has beautiful eyes and they speak a lot even in silence. It is about a lady whom Tagore identifies with emotionally. They were very close to each other, especially after they parted.”
Talking about reinventing the literary great, he says, “The world will wonder how and why I am portraying this part, and they will interpret it differently. Then, Indians will want to see whether I can walk like Tagore or talk like Tagore. That does not bother me as I am portraying a part of him that doesn’t belong to us. This film is not about what you and I think of Tagore. It is about what she thought of Tagore and what Argentinians think of him.”
Though they only met twice, the letters exchanged, memoirs and autobiography of Victoria were the main research material for the film. “She was half his age when they met, but there was something beyond mere admiration in their relationship,” says Victor, adding, “It was Victoria who organised Tagore’s first art exhibition in Paris in 1930. She was not a frivolous woman. She had relationships with men of high intellectual calibre — physicists, scientists and philosophers. From Jorge Luis Borges to Albert Camus and Octavio Paz — all were more than acquaintances to her. Despite all the associations she had, including with Ernesto Sabato in the end, she never loved or worshipped any person more than Tagore.”
Tagore was more of a social reformer than a poet, believes Victor. “He wrote more on social reforms than he wrote on poetry. I personally think our national anthem is not patriotic enough. There is another poem by Dwijendralal Ray called Dhono Dhanne Pushpe Bhora, which is more soul-stirring as a national anthem.”...