Vol. 5 Num 425 Sat. August 06, 2005  

64th Death Anniversary
Rabindranath Tagore A Tribute

Bolpurer Rabindranath
In the master's footsteps

The documentary film Bolpurer Rabindranath is a record of Shakoor Majid's trip to Shantiniketan in 1994. Shakoor had taken with him his camera Canon XL1S. Going there he discovered that the history of Shantiniketan went back to the time of Tagore's father, who built a rest house in the place with the name of Shantiniketan. The area has now developed enormously with a cultural impact. Sixty-three years after Tagore's death, the place is still pulsating with Tagore's spirit and his deep admiration for literature, music, dancing, fine arts and more. Bolpur and Bhubandanga, are basically the places of origin of Biswa Bharati, otherwise known as Shantiniketan.

"I tried to capture the last 40 years of Tagore's life which he spent at that place. I saw many elements of nature which had inspired his writings. Places like the River Moiurankhi and Shaontal Patti reverberate with life. Places in Bolpur and Bhubandanga are covered with shops and eating houses with signboards that had names taken from Tagore's writings, like Robiroshi, Shonchoita and Ghorebairey, says Shakoor.

Asked to talk about the trees, flowers and waterways that formed Shantiniketan, he said that nature was an integral part of the institute, where the sky was the ceiling, and bushes and shrubs the walls of the classrooms. Shakoor says that the place began with only five students, but after 100 years it now has more than 5,000 students, coming from various corners of the world, to study sculpture, music and other art forms. He went during puja holidays and so he missed the normal activities of the students such as their dancing and feasting during Paush Mela and Pahela Baisakh.

Shakoor fully understood Tagore's philosophy of combining nature with man. "Chemistry, physics and dance classes were taught in the open air so that these young people would grow with nature," says Shakoor. He studied how Tagore lived in Bolpur from 1901 to 1941. Since he lived in this place, the environment affected his writings and this is what the filmmaker tried to show in his film. He also traced how he had won the Nobel Prize and travelled to distant places in the West. After his trips overseas he changed the concept of his institute of Biswa Bharati in 1917.

Thus his original concept was globalised.

As for the stills in the film based on the different stages of the life of Tagore, these photographs were taken from different books, which are available in Dhaka. Mridulkanti Chakravarty of the Dhaka University (Music and Dramatics section), who was once himself a student of Shantiniketan, helped him trace down these relevant photos.

Shakoor got permission to shoot his film from 2 pm to sunset for a single day. He took more time to bring in the adjacent locality. He did not get the support of the Biswa Bharati as he was not allowed to film in the museum. Neither was he allowed to take his camera inside Uttorayan, where Tagore lived. Shakoor also lamented the fact that he could not get an architectural plan of Shantiniketan.

Shakoor is a playwright and director and his TV plays include Londoni Kannya, Nayari, Karimunessa, Cherag and Bairati. He has also done a film shot overseas called Shobuj Matir Maya. Apart from these he has done a documentary on the learning of Bangla by foreigners, called Shodamatir Ghran which was telecast by ntv.

Scenes from the documentary(Clockwise) Venue for classes under the open sky, the entrance of Kalabhaban, a gazebo where classes are held, main building of Bishwa Bharti and Tagore's statue in Shantiniketan