Oct 22, 2012
India's national broadcaster Doordarshan has launched a TV series based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novel ‘Gora’ that carries an anti-caste and pro-humanist message. The series is produced by Gargi Sen, documentary film maker and founder of Magic Lantern Foundation, an NGO that works on culture and rights.
October 22, 2012: ‘Gora’, a 26-episode TV series, based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novel of the same name premiered at the India International Center (IIC), New Delhi, on October 19th. The series is directed by Somnath Sen, director and founder of Lemon Tree films and produced by his sister Gargi Sen, documentary film maker, curator, and founder of Magic Lantern Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works with culture and rights.
The series tells the story of Gourmohan, ‘Gora’ to his friends, a staunch young orthodox Hindu who believes that change in Hindu society can come only once Indians throw off the yoke of British imperialism. He upholds tradition not as he sees any intrinsic value in it but as he believes in upholding the laws of society. The series portrays Tagore’s dialogue between tradition and modernity with arguments on both sides. Throughout, a strong pro-humanist message emerges, reflecting Tagore’s own opposition to fundamentalism and his belief in the unity of humanity.
The humanistic arguments extend to not just caste, but also religious division, nationalism and patriarchy. The series portrays the interplay of these factors in colonial Bengal of the 1880s, just after the suppression of the Revolt of 1857. Tagore’s attack of the portrayal of women as either goddesses or mothers and his attempt to bring them into the mainstream is reflected through the strong female characters he creates. Anandamoyi, Gora’s mother, poignantly tells him that the day she gave birth to him, she knew that no one was born with any caste and her belief in the caste system vanished. Lolita and Sucharita, the other two female characters, are both reform-minded and forward-thinking individuals.
Despite being set in colonial times, the novel’s relevance to contemporary India was a strong motivating factor for Gargi Sen for making the series. When asked whether the essence of the novel was lost in translation from Bengali to Hindi, director Somnath Sen replied saying that he believed that when a work is translated into another language, its soul moves from one work to the other.
Tripurari Sharan, Director General of DoorDarshan, was also present. He stated the importance of DD sticking to what it was good at and making socially relevant content if it had to win back its original audiences.
Gargi Sen, when asked whether there was any message she wished the audience to take back from the series, replied saying, “Messages are for advertisers. We’re artists. Cinema should touch your heart and make you question the self.”
The show will be aired on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 30 pm on DD National from October the 29th.