Archivist restores rare Rabindranath Tagore stills

Kolkata: Celebrating eighty years of the release of Rabindranath Tagore`s only film ‘Natir Pooja’, some rare stills from the movie and the original manuscript of the play on which it is based, were today put on display.

Archivist and documentary film-maker Arindam Saha Sardar has restored around 50 stills from the movie, released by New Theatres Studio on March 14, 1932, and put them on exhibition at Bengal Studio in Uttarpara, a few kms away from Kolkata.

"I have managed to procure them from various people who were in possession of the photographs. They were all damaged and lying in neglect. I have managed to restore them somehow," Saha told reporters.

‘Natir Pooja’ is the bard`s only brush with the medium of cinema. Not only had the Nobel laureate directed the film, which was shot like a stage play, he had also performed the role of Upala, the sole male character.

The only negatives of the film were lost in a fire at the New Theatres studio in Tollygunj in the 40s while the positives also got destroyed gradually due to neglect by 1955, Saha said.

Although the film has been lost in its original form, the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) managed to collect some footage to make a 20-minute-long film which was released last year to mark Tagore`s 150th birth anniversary celebrations.

Inspired by a tale from the Buddhist series in Pali sacred book ‘Abadan Shatak’, Natir Puja is the 2,500-year-old story of a nati (danseuse) who sacrifices herself for the sake of her belief in Buddhism.

The screenplay was written under Tagore`s guidance by his nephew Dinendranath Tagore.

Noted painter Nandalal Bose`s daughter Gauri had played the title role of `Nati` while other actors of the dance-drama were students from Shantiniketan.

The exhibition of these rare photographs from the film and the original manuscript of the play written by Tagore will run till June 24.


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