This 1906 novel of Tagore has long been a movie-maker’s delight. The story of a boat wreck affecting two wedding parties and leading to two brides being exchanged has fascinated a wide range of directors, from Nitin Bose to Ramanand Sagar and T. Prakash Rao.
Tagore’s short story about an Afghan moneylender and peddler of dry fruits in Calcutta and his tender relationship with a Bengali child had a strong emotional content and this was fully exploited by Tapan Sinha in his debut movie.
Perhaps the most felicitated Tagore film adaptation, Satyajit Ray’s Charulata needs no introduction. Ray’s decision to focus on the loneliness of a young housewife and the yearning she feels for romance, made this film as much Ray’s creation as Tagore’s.
The struggle for Independence, which often took violent turns especially among Bengal’s youth, deeply troubled Tagore. His last novel Char Adhyay is based on the role of armed insurrection and how it devastates the life and love of two brilliant people, Atin and Ela.
The novel Chaturanga is regarded among Tagore’s most tightly-structured novels, which uses a love story to explore a complex range of (often conflicting) ideas. Anchoring the story is Sachish and his relationships with two women (one of whom is his brother’s abandoned mistress) and his sidekick friend Sribilash.
Rituparno Ghosh took Tagore’s Chitrangada and used it to talk about queer identity and contemporary issues, like gender fluidity, gender affirmation surgery and child adoption for same-sex couples. It was, perhaps, a film ahead of its time.