Academic journal article Creative Forum

The Contrasting Film and Novel Text of Ghore Baire

Academic journal article Creative Forum

The Contrasting Film and Novel Text of Ghore Baire

Article excerpt

All cinema is an art form and as is commonly understood, they don't have to be faithful to the book. However, when they claim to be an adaptation of a book, and not inspired by a book, most critics feel that it is important for them to capture the essence of the characters in the book. This is the reason why Satyajit Ray's Ghare Baire has been criticized while Lord of The Rings is cited as a prime example of a film being faithful to the spirit of the book as well as the character depiction.

Thus there arises a fundamental question about filmmaking: is the director justified in "changing" the story of a writer when he/she makes a film out of it? This is a tricky question, which has no easy answers. In evaluating a film based on a book, a crucial factor is, does the film offer new challenging perspectives or are the changes just superficial for commercial purposes. This aspect can be examined by a discussion on Satyajit Ray's Ghore Baire (The Home and the World).

The film, released in 1984, raises questions on the gender role, sense of freedom and of course the Swadeshi Movement. It is photographed brilliantly by Govind Nihalni based on the original story Ghare Baire by Rabindranath Tagore.

The story is set in early 20th century India in the estate of the rich Bengali noble Nikhil (Victor Banerjee). He lives happily with his beautiful wife Bimala (Bimala Chatterjee) until the appearance of his friend and radical revolutionary, Sandip (Soumitra Chatterjee).

Sandip, a passionate and active man, is a contradiction to the peace--loving and somewhat passive Nikhil. He easily attracts the innocent and unsuspecting Bimala, creating a love triangle.

Although Nikhil figures out what is happening, he is a mature person and thus grants Bimala freedom to grow and choose what she wants in her life (as their marriage was arranged when she was a young girl). Meanwhile Bimala experiences the emotions of love for the first time in a manner which helps her understand that it is indeed her husband Nikhil who really loves her.

The novel has political connotations also. Sandip and Nikhil (also known as Nikhilesh) were two childhood friends, growing to adulthood. Sandip becomes a freedom fighter while Nikhil, the heir to a small kingdom, becomes a Raja (a feudal Zamindar, landlord). The two had not met each other, since their college days for sometime. However they meet soon after Nikhil's marriage. Sandeep is single and quite a philanderer. When he suddenly drops in on Nikhil, he demands rather nonchalantly that he wants to operate his people's movement of boycotting British articles sold in the market from Nikhil's palace. Sandeep also unilaterally declares Nikhil's wife the spiritual inspiration of the movement. The woman, known as Bimala is obviously flattered and thus begins a rather abstract relationship between Sandeep and the wife. Nikhil broods himself to distraction and, eventually, to death. Only after his death, does his widow realize that Sandeep has no interest in her and that he had merely used her for political and financial expediency.

When Ray made a film out of it, however, he decided to integrate the jealousy theme very subtly with the opposing ideologies of the two friends. Sandip was a hot-eyed "swadeshi" to whom the "movement" was more important than people. Nikhilesh was a thoughtful, gentle and philosophic, but small time, Zamindar/Raja, to whom the poverty of his subjects was more important than the Swadeshi Movement. Thus when Sandeep announces that he is going to "force" his subjects to stop selling British goods (their only livelihood), Nikhilesh opposes him, knowing that his wife and many others in his small kingdom support his friend rather than him.

It is in the depiction of the love theme that there is a major difference Satyajit Ray's film and Rabindrantah Tagore's novel. In the novel Tagore evoked passion subtly romance is like a fantasy in the mind of Bimala. …

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