ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tagores and Indigenous Modernity in Bengal

Tagores before Tagore: A Screenplay by Sibaji Bandopadhyay, translated from Bengali by Maharghya Chakraborty,India: OUP, 2018; pp xxxiv + 192,695.


Contemporary public intellectuals have thrown down the gauntlet to their Bengali counterparts by challenging to liberate Rabindranath Tagore from the thralldom of provincial admiration. This has been an interesting development with the sesquicentennial birth anniversary of Tagore having kicked off a minor industry in his work and life in the English-speaking world of scholarship. In this context, Sibaji Bandopadhyay’s Tagores before Tagore engages in a parallel—if not more radical—act of deliverance. The work achieves—or nearly accomplishes—the removal of the Tagore family from the biography of Rabindranath Tagore that normally overwhelms the story of the clan. It gives to the Tagore family an independent salience in plotting out the distinctive modernity of 19th century urban Bengal.

The name of Sibaji Bandopadhyay is no stranger to anyone interested in Bengali literature and cultural thought. Recipient of many awards, Bandopadhyay has a distinguished career in teaching, and is revered as an original thinker and a creative presence in writing and performance. It is only lately that some of his work has started being translated in English, beginning with his pioneering work on children’s literature. Tagores before Tagore belongs to the oeuvre of his freshly translated works. It was published in Bengali in 2013 as a screenplay for a film project by Rituparno Ghosh, which was stalled by Ghosh’s untimely demise. But, the screenplay is interesting in its own right, for it showcases the writer’s unusual perspective.

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Updated On : 1st Mar, 2019
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