I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever.
This mystical thought is by one of world’s most loved artist, poet and writer: Rabindranath Tagore. The man has inspired voluminous books and essays, not to mention the performances on his writings across the globe. But not many would know that the muse to many was much inspired by a woman almost half his age, so much so that he dedicated a collection of poetry to her. The volume of poetry, Purabi, was dedicated by him to Vijaya (the Bengali name given to Victoria Ocampo) in 1925.
A different image
The image that Tagore evokes is like an impenetrable and larger than life sculpture of poise, calm, beauty, intellect and romance. But a play by Aranya attempts to seep into that and rediscover him through his life events, relationships and writings.
“It is not an encyclopedic look at Tagore’s life, but tries to explore the poet’s discovery of himself in his relationship with Ocampo — and death, in an abstract manner,” says Manav Kaul, director and co-writer of Colour Blind. Eventually in the play, the grand image of Tagore is replaced with images of a lonely child, a vulnerable poet, a misunderstood patriot and an ageing lover, and he emerges in flesh and blood.
The female muse
Tagore and Argentine poet Victoria spent two months together in 1924 on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The actual nature of their relationship has given rise to much speculation and critical study over the decades.
Actress Kalki Koechlin who plays Ocampo says, “I have done a lot of research on her. I know all about their two months together and also about her growth as a writer, a feminist and a quiet revolutionary in the literature world of Argentina. Kalki is also one of the three writers of the play. “She was a natural choice, as Kalki knows French and Spanish,” adds Manav.
Many faces of a writer
“Colour Blind is a play about Tagore’s life told through the eyes of his characters and the eyes of his researchers. It is a fictional interpretation rather than a factual rendition of the man,” she explains. Ajitesh Gupta, who plays one of the Tagores in the play, says he considered him as an average writer earlier. “But things changed after I read him, and about him, while researching for the play,” he says. “Whatever Tagore wrote was so honest; his writings are inspired by the people in his life and his surroundings,” Ajitesh adds.
Though an important part of Tagore’s creativity, Rabindra sangeet does not play a major character in the play. “But still, when listening to his original music, one is struck by the contemporary character of his creativity. I am sure even after 100 years Rabindra sangeet will be as contemporary as it was 100 years ago,” says Ajitesh. The team agrees that the best part of the play was the research. “It was a really long process of research... about four months of reading books. It feels great to be so informed before doing a play, rather than just picking up lines and learning them without knowing the context,” concludes Kalki.