Feminist Characters from Tagore’s Stories That Resonate Even Today

Like most Indians, I had grown up hearing about Tagore, reading Where The Mind is Without Fear” in our textbooks but never really delving into the vast body of his literature. While I had memorized his name as the first Indian recipient of the Nobel Prize, I could not say the same about his stories.

On the other hand, disillusioned by the lack of innovative and progressive shows on mainstream Indian television, I too had turned towards bingeing on western shows. That’s when I discovered “Stories by Rabindranath Tagore” on Netflix. Directed by Anurag Basu and first aired on EPIC Channel, the show is based on stories written by Tagore a century ago. As I binge watched it, it shone through for its relevance and ideas far ahead of its time.

What struck me the most was the portrayal of the female characters- so different from what I had seen before. They couldn’t be fit into black or white categories of the “sanskari bahu” or the vamp, neither could they be understood using an upright moral compass. They rebelled, they questioned, they desired and most importantly, they challenged the status quo of the society they lived in without fearing the consequences.

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India decriminalised homosexuality last year, why is Bollywood still homophobic?

The year started with a pleasant surprise for the LGBT community and support groups when a Bollywood movie centered around two queer women hit the theatres in February 2019. While no one can deny that Sonam Kapoor’s Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga in itself was path-breaking cinema, the movie in its effort to sanitize the narrative to make it acceptable to Indian audiences lost the essence of lesbian love. It fails dismally to portray how two women who love each other behave in each others’ company. In the film, the two lovers are only seen exchanging a few hugs and some forehead pecks, in fact, they are called out for doing just that.

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