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'Jeevan Smriti' at the London Film Festival: Celebrating Tagore and Rituparno Ghosh

The 57th BFI London Film Festival gets underway 9 October with Paul Greengrass' Tom Hanks-starrer 'Captain Phillips'.

The festival will screen a slew of films under a number of categories including ‘Cult’, ‘Journey’, ‘Experimenta’ and ‘Love’, which also features the late, great Rituparno Ghosh’s ‘Jeevan Smriti’ (screening 18th and 20th October).

With a cast including Raima Sen, Samardashi Dutta, Sanjoy Nag and Anirban Ghosh, ‘Jeevan Smriti’ was made in 2012 for the Government of India Ministry of Culture.  The film explores the life of Rabindranath Tagore in the style of a docu-drama, emphasising the inspiration and personal link Ghosh felt with Tagore. 

The legendary Rabindranath Tagore was a poet and artist who not only influenced but re-moulded both Bengali literature and music.  What is perhaps less known, is that it was in fact Tagore who bestowed Gandhi with the title of ‘Mahatma’, or Great Soul.

Some of his classical work include ‘Gitanjali’ and ‘Chokher Bali’ - the former was remade into a film by Ghosh with Aishwariya Rai Bachchan playing the lead.

Speaking about portraying the lesser known aspects of Tagore's personal life, Ghosh told the Times of India: "What comes through is what a lonely man Tagore was — from childhood to old age. There is no one in his life to share even his success with him. It's the journey of a lonely traveller. What I haven't captured in the documentary is what a fun-loving, humorous man he could be. I show him as a profound thinker, a guru — but then this was perhaps necessary for an audience which is not at all familiar with Rabindranath."

Being one of the very few openly homosexual people in the Indian film industry, Ghosh is an icon for the LGBT community - not only through his strength and honesty, but also through the films he acted in, exploring the taboo of homosexuality.

Ghosh passed away from a heart attack on the 30th of May 2013.  ‘Jeevan Smriti’ was his final completed film.

Jeevan Smriti at the London Film Festival:
Screen on the green: October 18th 2013; 9pm
BFI Southbank, NFT1: October 20th 2013; 8.45pm

- Aashi Gahlot

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