Tagore's 'Gora' set for telecast on Doordarshan's national channel

Bollywood Trade Editorial | 5 Nov 2012
 
The true definition of a classic is its timelessness. A work of literature written a century earlier is a classic if it is as relevant today as it was when it was first conceived.
 
Perhaps that is what differentiates first Asian Nobel Laureate and eminent author Rabindranath Tagore from his contemporaries: almost everything he wrote in his lifetime is as relevant to the India of today as it was to the India of the colonial era.

Tagore’s second novel ‘Gora’ arguably one of his best - deals with the debate between Modernity and Tradition with arguments both for and against traditionally accepted norms.
 
Commissioned by Doordarshan, this novel made into a Hindi television serial will be telecast on the national network DD 1. To be telecast in 26 episodes, the series will be shown every Monday and Tuesday at 9.30 pm. from 29 October.

Produced by the renowned filmmaker, curator, distributor, exhibitor and producer Gargi Sen, the series has been directed by Somnath Sen who is known for his work in cinema. It has been filmed by B Chaki and scripted by Sreejaya Radhakrishnan, while the music has been composed by Dabbu and Sanjoy using Tagore's prolific music of that period as reference and also sourced from Tagore's own inspiration, the Baul music of Bengal. Suchismita Dasgupta, the stylist, has created the period of the 1880s in which the story is set.
 
The director has used for his cast several highly talented and extremely disciplined former students of his own from the Film and Television Institute of India, They include Gaurav Dwivedi in the role of Gora, Prabhat Raghunandan as his best friend Binoy, Swati Sen as his love interest, and artistes like Chandrahas Tiwari and Anuya Bhagwat. The cast is embellished with the presence of the versatile Joyshree Arora as Gora’s mother.
 
The novel was written over two years 1907 to 1909 and Tagore set it in the decade of the 1880s after the brutal reprisal by the British of the 1857 Uprising. Opposed to nationalism and fundamentalism of every kind, Tagore provides in ‘Gora’ a fascinating account of that time as well as the search for true liberation and universalism.

The series tells the story of Gourmohan, Gora to his friends, who is a staunch orthodox Hindu - believing that change in 'his' Hindu society can only come once Indians throw off the yoke of British rule. In this quest, Gora gives up everything: friendship, relationships, and love to single mindedly pursue his idea of the ideal society.
 
Many questions raised by Gurudev in this novel are relevant today, a hundred years later: questions such as what and who comprise a nation and the role of lower castes, the dispossessed and women in nation building. He also examines the contemporaneous disconnect between urban educated and rural peasants.
 
The educated classes keep discussing issues of societal ills and ways to eradicate them, but the peasants are still engaged in a fight for daily survival. The economic divide is increasing despite progress.
 
Director General Doordarshan Tripurari Sharan says, “Gora is an epic of India in transition at a crucial period of modern history, when the social conscience and intellectual awareness of the new intelligentsia were in the throes of a great churning. In the true tradition of a classic, this work of Tagore has foregrounded several strands of the debate between tradition and modernity in ways that enable this debate to be as relevant and important today as it was in those heady years of Indian nationalism.”
 
By bringing this serial on to its prime time telecast, DD is endeavouring to build on its efforts to accord primacy to socially relevant and meaningful content which informs and educates while attempting to entertain its audiences. Through Gora, as with several others of its programmes, DD seeks to underline how it is putting out content with a difference.
 
Says Somnath Sen, “A director’s job is to translate the written word to the screen. And I use the word, translate deliberately. The director takes the text in one language guided by its grammar, syntax, idioms and translates it into an entirely different language with its own syntax, grammar, idioms. My challenge, then, was to take one of the most celebrated texts, by a Nobel Laureate no less, and try to translate it. And it was a heavy burden.”

He adds, “Recreating Bengal of the late 19th century had its own pitfalls. It was not just recreating geography (actually that we the easiest part- many parts of North Kolkata still exist as they did 130 years ago when this story is based) but also such a society in flux.”

Adds Gargi Sen, “The novel explores human freedom in a society divided by class, caste, gender-subjugation, a society oppressed under exploitative colonial rule. Tagore questions the notion of freedom and says freedom is impossible without human liberation, and human freedom can only be achieved by moving out of all boundaries of caste, class and gender. I had read the novel in my teens but I felt that it was incredibly relevant for a lot of the times that I lived through. It was around a decade earlier that I began work on trying to translate Gora into film.
 
Interestingly, Tagore has in this novel exemplified what he had himself once said, “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. Do not limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”
 
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