A still from Kabuliwala (1961)
A still from Kabuliwala (1961)

Rabindranath Tagore’s classic stories and novels have inspired cinema over the years. Some managed to successfully capture the essence without draining it of its juice, while others played on certain plots for commercial appeal. The polymath managed to defy time and appeal to GenNext because of his talent of pure verbal outpourings of universal human emotions. On the 159th birth anniversary of the Nobel Prize laureate, we take a moment to remember films based on his works that continue to ignite our creative consciousness and inspire us to see the world from a fresh perspective.

Balidan (1927)

This was the first adaptation of Tagore's work onscreen. Balidan or Sacrifice is a silent film directed by Naval Gandhi starred Master Vithal, Sulochana (Ruby Myers), Zubeida, Sultana, Jal Khambata and Jani Babu. Based on Visarjan a 1890’s play, Balidan was set in the fictional kingdom of Tippera, and involved clashes between a progressive-minded King and a "tradition-bound priest".

Milan (1946)

It is the first Hindi feature film, inspired by Tagore's Bengali story Noukadubi (The Wreck). Starring Dilip Kumar, Mira Misra, Ranjana, Pahari Sanyal and Moni Chatterjee, the story revolves around a young law student who is forced into an arranged marriage despite being in love with someone else. Following the wedding the drama focuses on the bride's mistaken identity and the search for her husband.

Ghunghat (1960)

From Kabuliwala to Ghunghat – 8 Hindi films inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's works

Helmed by Ramanand Sagar, Ghunghat is also an adaptation of Noukadubi. This one featured Bharat Bhushan, Leela Chitnis, Pradeep Kumar, Bina Rai, Asha Parekh, Helen, Rajendranath, Rehman and Agha.

Kabuliwala (1961)

It is based on the story of the same name and starred Balraj Sahni, Usha Kiran, Sajjan, Sonu and Baby Farida. The story revolves around an Afghan dry-fruit vendor who sees his daughter in a young stranger. The narrative explores the bond between the two as the vendor yearns for his own child, he left behind to earn a livelihood.

Dak Ghar (1965)

The film was based on a play written in 1912 by Tagore. It concerns Amal, a child confined to his adoptive uncle's home by an incurable disease. Starring Sachin, Mukri, AK Hangal, Sudha and Satyen Kappu among others, the film also had cameos by Balraj Sahni and Sharmila Tagore.

Uphaar (1971)

The film featured Jaya Bachchan, Swarup Dutta and Kamini Kaushal.It is based on the short story named "Samapti" (The End). Jaya played the role of a childish Minoo, who gets tied into a marital relationship she lacks the maturity to understand or fulfill as a partner. The film was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 45th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

Lekin... (1991)

From Kabuliwala to Ghunghat – 8 Hindi films inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's works

The film is loosely based on the short story Kshudhit Pashaan Hungry Stones. Helmed by Gulzar, the mystery drama featured Vinod Khanna, Dimple Kapadia, Amjad Khan, Alok Nath, and Beena Banerjee, and a cameo by Hema Malini. Fun fact - the muhurat clap was given by Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar.

Bioscopewala (2018)

It is another adaptation of Kabuliwala, the film stars Danny Denzongpa and Geetanjali Thapa in lead roles. The profession of the protagonist was changed to a man who goes around showing films to children through his bioscope.

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