Cairo: A retrospective of Indian films based on Rabindranath Tagore`s novels and short stories have begun here as part of the on-going celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Asia`s first Nobel Laureate.
The festival, organised by the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture, Embassy of India, Cairo, in cooperation with the Cultural Development Fund of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, is being held April 15-19 at the Artistic Creativity Centre, Opera House Complex.
Five award winning films, directed by renowned Indian film directors such as Satyajit Ray, Tapan Sinha, Hemen Gupta and Kumar Shahani are being screened. A biographical documentary on Tagore as well as a rare silent film in which Tagore himself acted are also to be screened.
While the original languages of the films are Bengali and Hindi, they have been subtitled in English and especially in Arabic for the Egyptian audience. The films have been selected by the National Film Development Corporation of India (Indian Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
The festival began with the screening of Satyajit Ray`s ‘Ghare Baire’ and was graced by the Indian ambassador to Egypt R Swaminathan and the Director of Cultural Development Fund Mohamed Abou Seada.
The director of Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture welcomed the gathering, which consisted of several dignitaries and admirers of Tagore`s works.
The festival commenced with a panel discussion chaired by
renowned Egyptian film critic Dr Raffik al-Sabban. Another film critic, Khairiyah al-Bilshawi, also attended.
Al-Sabban gave a synopsis of the movies to be screened during the festival. He also dwelt on Tagore being a great poet who dealt with the issues of society including issues of women and the need for reforms in society.
’Ghare Baire (Home and the World)’, the movie of the inaugural evening was one such example of a woman`s freedom to express herself in the early 20th century in the backdrop of colonial rule, he said.
Another movie being screened at the festival, ‘Teen Kanya’ (Three Women) also dealt with women and their lives. The complexity of Tagore`s writing cannot be captured on cinema and accordingly al-Sabban explained why there are so few movies of his literary work as compared with films based on Naguib Mahfouz`s work. Very few movie makers could attempt to make such movies, he said.
Kairaiya Bishlawi said that Tagore was a real human being above everything else. He was in that sense a Bengali, an Indian and a person of the world, a comprehensive, whole human being.