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Archive for April, 2011

Charulata……..

Words and I have strained relations now. I can no longer write as I could before. And someone told me…why should you write; feed a hungry mouth instead. Well, that may be seem cliched, but surprisingly I am on the lookout for such mouths to feed. My pen (nay keyboard) can take walk for sometime if it wants. But only after this blog.

I am dying to write about this. Was watching the Satyajit Ray classic Charulata. Loved it. Not because it is Ray’s. But because the theme of the story is so familiar.  They say it has chips off the block from Rabindranath Tagore’s life. His relationship with his sister-in-law Kadambari Devi that even now smacks of a nostalgic mystery.

The movie is a take from the bard’s first book ‘The Broken Nest’. What I particularly liked in the movie is the mellifluous “Ami Chini Go Maare O Go Videshini” song. The words that make the song says all about the book and the film: “I know you, I know you, O woman from the foreign land”…the woman from the foreign land, the one who does not belong to me, yet I love her very much….the theme that makes sweet relationships of the likes of Radha and Krishna. Vaishnavites call that Parakiya Ras.

Amal comes home to his elder brother, who runs a political weekly that delves on social issues of the pre-Independence era. Amal is a writer, who is yet to discover the beauty of the words in him. And Charulata befriends him, becomes his muse, his inspiration and a writer herself when her love for Amal gets silently yet lovingly spurned.

Together, Amal and Charu develop a bond that surpasses the social tangles they are in. It is platonic, passionate, erotic yet sans sensuality. The latent emotions in Charu play wreck on her, and she prefers his company to that of her husband’s, with whom she shares a good ties. The actor playing Charulata has brought in all the feelings that may lay dormant in such a female mind. Charulata, in her characteristic stoic yet charming way, goes about wooing words and Amal quietly, till the inevitable strikes. A marriage proposal comes for him, and she tries opposing it. He senses her passion for him, and leaves to save his brother’s nest from being broken.

The film (or the book) comes better across as a platter of hidden human emotions  rather than a story of three people. It has to be watched from the mental sphere, for the characters here aren’t two men and a woman, but the spectra of feelings that moves through the minds of the protagonists. Feelings that do not know the bounds of practicality, the rules of law and the norms of society. Feelings that sprout when stimulated, and splurge on moments when time moves on in fits and starts. When loneliness befriends hearts that long for love.

Charulatha shows in a nutshell what Kadambari may have felt for Tagore. She came to Jorasanko, the Tagore household, as Jyotindranath Tagore’s wife, aged 9. Young Rabi was just 7 then. He saw a female presence at home, almost his age. The poet in him wanted her company, first for childish games and then for trips to the surreal world from where he brought down words that became gems of poetry.  

Time played truant, and Kadambari grew with Rabi to be his muse and his inspiration like Charulata was to Amal in the film. When Rabi’s mother passed away, Kadambari, just 16, took reins of him as a mother would and nurtured the talent in him to translate thoughts into words. She helped him discover that his mind could sense beauty, at least parts of it.

Rabi called her Heacate, the Greek goddess of duality. Some of his writings are dedicated to ‘He’ as he called his Heacate. Rabi grew up to be a man of 24, and married Babhatarini, just 11, who later became Mrinalini. Kadambari, then 26, found herself uncomfortable in the presence of Rabi and Mrinalini, with her passion for the young bard’s poetry, his beautiful mind and him growing with each day. She had no kids to fall back to. None came to soothe her pain. Death did. She killed herself. And Jorasanko household hushed up her death to avoid a controversy. Spent Rs 52 as charges to stop the news from being aired in press and police records.

Many say Kadambari loved Rabi, though he didn’t either understand its intensity then or read it in a way different from what it was. But as Rabi grew to be the Nobel Laureate that he turned out to be in later years, he understood what his ‘He’ took him to be. Some of his poetry has glimpses of his affection for her, who was not an artists herself but became the ‘First Sorrow’ of an artist the likes of whom do not tread on earth often.

Charulata does catch glimpses of this love. Just glimpses. The real-life story would have been much more intense and painful. And hence, beautiful. For poets are not born out of nowhere. They pass through tests. Of time, and of love.

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