Bringing Gurudeb closer to Bangalore

As all of India fêted Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary onSunday, May 9, Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh instituted a panel to “rekindle public interest in Gurudeb’s rich cultural legacy”. Keeping up with the PM’s diktat, Bangalore too is doing its bit to further Tagore’s legacy as part of his ongoing birth anniversary celebrations.

Maam Entertainment is paying tribute to the poet by deliberating on the beauty and depth of Rabindra-sangeet through a series of concerts leading to the sesquicentenary. The first of these concerts, an evening of Rabindra Sangeet ‘Pronomi tomay, gahi boshe tabo gaan’, will be held on May16 at Yavanika auditorium.

“We’re really privileged that Tagore is an Indian whose contribution to art, music, drama and literature have received global appreciation and that we have received the opportunity to perpetuate this heritage,” says Arundhati Biswas of Maam Entertainment. “In Kolkata, some families grow up listening exclusively to Rabindrasangeet and practising it. This legacy has been passed down generations. By organising Rabindra Sandhya, a concert by Manomoy Bhattacharya and Jayati Chakraborty, we are attempting to showcase a largely overlooked aspect of our culture to the rest of India,” she adds.

Ask Swapan K Chakrabarti, general secretary of the Bengalee Association in the city, what Tagore’s 150th anniversary celebrations must focus on, and he says: “I think on this special occasion we must focus on Kabi Guru’s teachings and values, and highlight his humanitarian and philosophical achievements,” he says.

Contrary to popular opinion, Tagore hasn’t been shrugged off from the contemporary reading society as an author whose works are more or less meant to be confined within the dusty shelves of a library. Despite not enjoying as significant a literary following as more recent Bengali authors such as Amitav Ghosh, Tagore’s works still attract a retinue of loyal readers who speak highly of him.

Sahana Das, HOD of the Communicative English Department, Mount Carmel College adores Tagore; however, she feels that translations don’t do justice to his work. “Like Gandhi, Tagore has been over-worshipped. Hence the reaction, ‘Oh no, Tagore!’ whenever someone chances upon his work,” she says. “But one must get over all the preconceived worship and read him as if one is discovering him for the first time. He is as wonderful as he is touted to be, which is always pleasantly surprising,” she advises.
For Gitanjali Chitnis, a student of English literature who has been named after Tagore’s Gitanjali as her dad loves that particular collection of poems, Tagore’s poetry has relevance even today. “I would like to see more people reading him, and it would be great if more literary events were included in the 150th anniversary celebrations,” she says.


Published in DNA, May 12th 2010