Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore is the subject of a new documentary film
Thursday, September 26, 2013 • 7:09pm
Livingston Public Library will show a new film about Rabindranath Tagore on September 29, 2013
Livingston resident Partha Bhattacharya has created a film that is truly a labor of love. His documentary chronicles 80 years in the life of Rabindranath Tagore, and the enduring legacy of his monumental intellect. He was a prolific poet, author, composer, playwright, and lyricist, creator of dance dramas, essayist, artist, lecturer, philosopher, Nobel Prize winner, humanitarian and peacemaker. Known mostly for his poetry, Tagore wrote novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas, non-fiction and thousands of songs. He was a proponent of education as the way to improve life and was a pioneer in the education and emancipation of women. Additionally, Tagore introduce Bengali and Indian culture to the Western world.
Bhattacharya’s inspiration to make the film arose from the United Nations declaration, in October 2009, that the sesquicentennial birth anniversary of the poet be observed and celebrated throughout the world. UNESCO Deputy Secretary General Mr. Hans d'Orville kicked off the celebrations in Paris on May 12, 2010, stating that, "the Giant Tagore was with us when the organization was founded, he is with now and he would be with us in the future."
Seventy years after his death in 1941, Tagore is still recognized and celebrated throughout the world. Every year, many events pay tribute to him: his birth anniversary is celebrated by groups scattered across the globe; the annual Tagore Festival held in Urbana, Illinois; walking pilgrimages from Calcutta to Santiniketan; and recitals of his poetry, which are held on important anniversaries. He is deemed one of his nation's greatest cultural treasures, and he was declared "the greatest poet India has produced.”
Bhattacharya incorporates interviews with Tagore scholars from many universities around the world with comments about his influence from present-day notables. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, HRH Prince Charles, Jane Goodall, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Sister Nirmala, successor to Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity, Myanmar activist and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and many others add their comments. Equally important are reflections from Tagore’s contemporaries, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jane Addams, Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell. Tagore’s poetry and patriotic songs are performed throughout the film by various performers, including Sumona Bhattacharya, co-producer of the film. The performances give the viewer an idea of the lasting beauty of his words.
Ranindranath (Rabi) Tagore was born on May 7, 1861 at the Calcutta family mansion of the Tagore family. He began writing poems at an early age and his teacher even thought he was copying from his illustrious brothers, as the Tagore family teemed with talent. Rabi quit school and had an excellent home schooling in a vast range of subjects: mathematics; astronomy; history; geography; anatomy; music; wrestling and literature - Bengali, English, Sanskrit and Persian. Rabi became a published poet at the age of 13, and at age 18, he was admitted to University College, London but did not complete a degree. Within a few years, he composed twenty-one books of poems, essays, one novel, a few dance dramas and travel diaries.
By the age of fifty, Rabindranath composed at least 50 more books of literary work including poems, songs, dramas, dance dramas, short stories, political satires, essays, criticisms, literary reviews, and novels. He translated about a 100 poems into English and visited England as the guest of William Rothenstein, English portraitist, Royal College of Art. Rothenstein arranged for a reading of Tagore's poems, where William Butler Yeats read some of the poems to Ezra Pound, Henry Nevinson, Evelyn Underhill, Alice Meynell, Ernest Rhys, and others. Yeats wrote the foreword to Gitanjali, for which Rabindranath was awarded the 1913 Nobel Literature and became the first non-European to receive this prestigious honor.
In later years, Tagore visited many countries on lecture tours, cultural exchanges and peace missions. He toured the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Vietnam, Ceylon, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Germany, USSR, Poland, Italy, France, Argentina, Iran, Iraq, Bulgaria, Hungary, Holland, Belgium, Thailand, and Norway. While in the U.S., Tagore met with President Hoover, Helen Keller, Will and Ariel Durant, Robert Frost, Sinclair Lewis and many other men and women of letters. The poet visited Albert Einstein in Germany in 1930 and they discussed music, painting and on the nature of reality. During their visits, Prof. Amiya Chakravarty recoded by hand the Einstein-Tagore conversations, which were later published as the East-West dialogue and are available on the Internet. Also during this time Gitanjali was translated in 130 languages and Tagore's dance dramas were enacted in all major cities of the world.
Partha Bhattacharya has lived in Livingston since 1983. He earned a structural engineering from Calcutta University and his Masters in Engineering from Rutgers University. He is a registered and board certified professional engineer from New Jersey and New York. He created the film, not only to honor Rabi Tagore, but to transcend culture and race, and to become an important resource for schools and colleges around the world.
The film will be shown at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 29, 2013 at Livingston Public Library, 10 Robert Harp Drive, Livingston, NJ, and will be introduced by Bhattacharya. For directions to the Library, visit livingston.bccls.org or call 973-992-4600.
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