Feminist Characters from Tagore’s Stories That Resonate Even Today

Shruti Sonal

Shruti is a freelance journalist and poet, who writes about the intersection between gender, politics and art.

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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Simple, hard-hitting and one of Netflix’s finest Hindi cinema, SONI

In the backdrop of the movie there are two female police officers from two completely different classes, struggling to find their power and identity in a male dominated profession; at the forefront of the movie there are two women battling everyday hypocrisy, sexism and misogyny thrown their way at every step.

In the current scenario, a movie like Soni is a breath of fresh air, and shifts our focus to realistic cinema while raising some relevant questions. It does an important task of depicting everyday misogyny and male entitlement throughout the reel with the help of ingenious but thought-provoking scenes.

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