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Rediff News  All News  » Movies » Merchant Ivory will capture Tagore on film

Merchant Ivory will capture Tagore on film

August 25, 2004 12:41 IST

Ismail Merchant and James Ivory have their sights set on Rabindranath Tagore.

According to Kolkata's The Telegraph, the celebrated filmmaking duo's yet-untitled project is a drama based on the friendship between India's first Nobel Prize winner for literature, Tagore (1861 to 1941), and the French intellectual Nobel Laureate, Romain Rolland (1866 to 1944).

While details about the film are still sketchy, rumour has it that Tagore is to be played by Soumitra Chatterjee, the man once cast as Apurba Roy in Satyajit Ray's seminal Apur Sansar (1959).

The friendship between Tagore and Rolland can be said to spring from a number of shared beliefs.

The Indian poet, novelist and educator was an early advocate of independence. He was knighted in 1915, but surrendered it in protest against the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre.

Rolland, on the other hand, was a keen thinker who constantly insisted upon justice and looked towards the work of Indian philosophers for peace during and after the First World War.

When he wrote to Tagore in 1919, complimenting the latter on his definition of narrow nationalism, the seeds were sown for a relationship that would last a lifetime.

An interesting snippet of conversation between the two, recorded at a meeting in Geneva in 1930, was published seven years later. In it, Rolland wondered about religious tolerance in India, saying it was unlike anything known in the West. Tagore responded by saying, 'Perhaps that has also been our weakness, and it is due to an indiscriminate spirit of toleration that all forms of religious creeds and crudities have run riot in India, making it difficult for us to realise the true foundation of our spiritual faith.'

Prophetic words. The film ought to give us more food for thought.

rediff Entertainment Bureau