A couple of weeks ago, Kaberi and I were celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary. Nine years ago, a lot of things did not exist which we and hundreds of millions of people around the world take for granted today, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Skype. Combined with the falling cost of taking, editing and storing digital photos and videos, these sharing platforms have transformed the world we live in.
Last week, as part of an article about the Cinema Novo festival in Brugge, this 9-minute interview with us about Tagore and the dance film trilogy was published on Flemish cultural website cobra.be . On Sunday afternoon, Chandalika and Shyama were shown at the festival as part of its Focus on India. The films were invited to the festival thanks to…
The performances of Shyama in Egypt took place the week before the first anniversary of the popular revolution which made Tahrir Square the focus of international attention, deposed President Hosni Mubarak and launched the “Arab Spring” last year. It was an exciting time to be there.
There was an article about the performances of Shyama at the Cairo and Alexandria Opera Houses in the Egyptair in-flight magazine, Horus. The article was the same size as one about the performances of Aida at the Cairo Opera House at the end of January! The performances were also included in the magazine’s events calendar for January.
I know already that I will need more than one post to do justice to the experience of presenting Rabindranath Tagore’s last dance-drama, Shyama, on tour in Egypt. The tour by Kaberi and a team from Santiniketan was organised by the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture in Cairo, together with the Indian Embassy there, to celebrate Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary. It was sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations as part of a cultural exchange programme between Egypt and India, in association with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.
The song by Rabindranath Tagore in this film clip (Purano shei diner katha sung by Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay) is based on the tune for Auld Lang Syne. I thought I would celebrate the New Year by translating it. As you will see, Tagore’s tune and lyrics differ subtly from those of the traditional Scottish song sung…
We are now close to completing Chitrangada, the third and final feature film in our trilogy of authentic versions of Tagore’s dance-dramas. Thanks to making these films and translating Tagore’s texts for their subtitles, I have now had the opportunity to explore all three dance-dramas intensively and from a western perspective. This has made me realise that they are no less worthy of the international stage than classical western ballet or opera.
This morning, I woke to the sad news of the premature death of Steve Jobs. He is acknowledged in the end credits of all three films of our Tagore dance film trilogy. This is not because we had any direct contact with him. It is because we simply would not have made the films (or indeed any of our audiovisual and musical output) without the affordable creative tools resulting from his visionary role at Apple.
In advance of India’s Independence day today, India’s Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, unveiled a 10-minute version of the Indian national anthem, Jana Gana Mana on Friday. It includes all five verses written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1911, rather than just the first one.
A controversy has been brewing for the past two years in Tagore’s home town of Santiniketan about the 21km, 6ft-8ft (2m-2.6m) wall now being completed around the Visva Bharati campus. What would Tagore have made of the plans?