It’s 1933. New Theatres at Tollygunge is up in flames. As Rabindranath Tagore watches the embers consume the studio, the highlights of his life zoom past him. He is numb as the flames eat their way through precious frames of his maiden film as a director – Natir Puja (or The dancing girl’s worship, as the original subtitle said) had been filmed only a year earlier. Images of him receiving the Nobel come back in waves. That was the same year, 1913, that marked the birth of Indian cinema. Fantasy? Not entirely.
A tribute like no other
Karl Bardosh, a New York University film school professor and a pioneer in cellphone filmmaking, will capture these frames in his soon-to-be-shot narrative spiritual fantasy feature film in 3D, Burnt Offerings. It aims to connect the two historic events that happened exactly 100 years ago.
Here’s more: the filmmaker’s first choice to play Tagore in 3D is Amitabh Bachchan.
The story of how Gitanjali: Song Offerings earned Tagore the Nobel will also be shown, as pictures of William Rothenstein and WB Yeats emerge from the fire consuming Tagore’s film, leading to flashback scenes in London and in India. Bardosh has already remade Natir Puja in 3D and is currently scouting locations in Kolkata and Santiniketan for the feature film. Segments from the dance-drama will be incorporated in the film.
A collage of portraits of Tagore by William Rothenstein
A historic endeavour
The film scholar is in Kolkata on an historic endeavour, remaking the only film Tagore ever directed. Incidentally, he had also acted in the film as well as composed the music. What is truly exciting is that the remake was filmed on the exact same sound stage at New Theatres Studio where Tagore had directed the original film 80 years ago.
Though a few filmmakers have over the past couple of years revealed their wish to cast Big B as Tagore, not much has come out of it. Bachchan himself has said on record it would be an honour to portray Gurudev. So will we get to hear Song Offerings in that rich baritone? Only time will tell.
Written with inputs from The Times of India