Teen Kanya | Tagore Stories on Film

DVD Recommendation and Film Review

Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya

Around a hundred films have been made in different languages on Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s literary work. The sad part is that a lot of films are either lost or their prints are in a rundown state; in addition there is low awareness around these cinematic gems amongst the movie-goers today. Thankfully, NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) is working towards the restoration of these films. On the occasion of Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, NFDC in association with the Government of India has launched a collectors’ edition, DVD box set of films based on his work.  The audio-video is digitally restored and the six DVDs are packed in an attractive box set with an informative booklet on Gurudev’s work. Priced at only Rs. 399, it is available at all leading music/video stores and online stores such as Flipkart (which also has a discount).

Teen Kanya - The Postmaster; Reliance Big Entertainment

The pack contains five movies and two documentaries made by filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Tapan Shah, Hemen Gupta and Kumar Shahani. The films are in Bengali or Hindi and come with English subtitles. I confess that I was equally ignorant of these treasures but now I am a proud owner of this commemorative set; and plan to watch a lot more movies based on Tagore’s stories and the filmmakers featured.

The first film I watched from the set is Satyajit Ray’s ‘Teen Kanya’ (Three Daughters)…

Released in 1961, this Bengali film has three of Tagore’s stories presented as three different short films in one. Interestingly, Ray made this film as a tribute to mark Tagore’s birth centenary. In all three stories, female characters are in focus and the director beautifully portrays their emotions on-screen.

The first story, The Post Master, is about a young orphan girl of about 8-10 years, Ratan (Chandana Banerjee), who works as a maid in the village postmaster’s house. Her new master is a young man from Calcutta, Nandalal (Anil Chatterjee) who misses the hustle-bustle of city life and his family back home. Unlike her previous masters, Nandalal is kind to Ratan and starts teaching her Bengali so that she can read and write like his own sister in Calcutta. The film has very few dialogues and silence works well for the simple narrative. The final sequence is heart-breaking and enhances the beauty of this simple story.

Teen Kanya - Samapti; Reliance Big Entertainment

Monihara (The Lost Jewels) is the second story in the film and is a psychological thriller. Manimalika (Kanika Majumdar) is married to a rich man Phanibhusan (Kali Banerjee) and stays in a large mansion in a village. Bored at home, her only companions are her pieces of jewelry. She loves her jewels more than anything and her obsession with them becomes visible when her husband faces financial crisis. This part of the film reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Rebecca with the narrative style and the whole set up, including stuffed birds!

Samapti (The Conclusion), the third piece in the film is a love story. Mrinmoyee (Aparna Dasgupta) is a carefree young girl, who as per her mother does nothing what good girls of marriageable age should do. She spends her time playing with kids, chasing squirrels and enjoying the swing next to the river. She catches the attention of Amulya (Soumitra Chatterjee), a young man who is returning to his village after taking his exams in Calcutta. His mother has already found a suitable match for him but he convinces her to arrange an alliance with Mrinmoyee. The film captures the innocence of a young married couple who are different from each other and one of them does not even understand the meaning of marriage or love.

Teen Kanya - Samapti; Reliance Big Entertainment

Teen Kanya presents three different films in one and all are masterpieces in their own genre. My favourite is The Postmaster followed by Samapti and then Monihara. Other films in the set include Khudito Pashan aka Hungry Stones (1960, Bengali) directed by Tapan Sinha; Kabuliwala (1961, Hindi) directed by Hemen Gupta; Ghare Baire aka Home and the World (1984, Bengali) directed by Satyajit Ray and Char Adhyay aka Four Chapters (1997, Hindi) directed by Kumar Shahani. There are two documentaries in the set also including Natir Puja (1932, Silent) directed by Tagore himself and Rabindranath Tagore (1961, English), a dramatized documentary on Gurudev’s life, directed by Ray again. Click here to read more about all these films and get hold of your own set soon.

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11 comments on “Teen Kanya | Tagore Stories on Film

  1. Had read The Postmaster when i was in school.. It’s one of my favorite stories simple because of the sheer simplicity of the words. The very last line when he describes her “clinging to the last ray of hope”. The words have stuck by me all these years! Would suggest you to watch ‘Charulata’ it is one of Ray’s best known adaptations of Tagore’s stories!

    • Charulata is a classic, a definition of how an adaptation should be. An ideal film for the students of cinema to read as a text.

  2. NOBEL PRIZE FOR RABINDRANATH TAGORE IN 1913- SOME UNTOLD STORIES

    Rabindranath Tagore was the greatest of all great Bengali writers. But it is sad to note that the learned Bengali readers and writers kept many facts about Tagore’s winning of Nobel Prize in 1913 are kept secret. Some such facts are given below:

    A. Rabindranath Tagore was more than many Nobel Laureates. But his winning of the Nobel Prize was a political consolation for the Hindu terrorist movements launched in Bengal in the early days of the 20th century.

    B. Rabindranth Tagore was not the recommendation of the Nobel Committee. The Nobel Committee named somebody else. The name of Rabindranath Tagore was not even in the short list of the Nobel Committee.

    C. Rabindranth Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize neither as a Bengalee nor as an Indian. He was awarded the prize as an “Anglo-Indian”.

    D. Rabindranth Tagore never made any so-called prize receiving speech.

    E. Rabindranth Tagore only sent a two line prize acceptance message.

    F. The prize was accepted by the British Ambassador and it was delivered to the poet in Calcutta.

    G. It appears from the information, now available, that Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize in consideration of his successful attempt to intermingle the Western Christian-Hindu philosophy.

    I shall very much welcome exact and objective reply from the esteemed readers of this Group.

    I have been planning to publish a very small book on the subject: Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore in 1913: some untold stories. All the points raised in my message are based on facts. But I would like to get more information on the subject. Help from others will greatly help in the publication of the book with more information.

    However, for the information of all concerned, I would like to point out that Rabindranath was a Brahmo ( a reformed group of Brahmins of the so-called Hindu community of India).

    The word ‘Hindu’ never existed to identify any religion before the emergence of the British Raj in India. It was invented by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in collaboration with the British colonial rulers. This the Britishers did with a view to getting the united massive force together against the defeated Muslim rulers of the then India.

    As such, until the early last century, we find that 99% civil servants, lawyers, judges, engineers, doctors, professors etc. under the British Raj in India were from the Hindu community only. The fourth class employees like peons, messengers, bearers or guards are not included.

    Brahmos allowed the conversion of even the low caste Sudras. But in fact, all Brahmos were Hindus. This was well understood by the British Rulers of India.

    Rabindranath Tagore was not very vast in literary productions in the first decade of the last century. In fact, excepting the limited 250-copy English edition of Gitanjali, hardly there was any English version of Rabindranath Tagore’s other books. Not to speak of any Asian, until 1913 even any American was not awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

    Rabindranath Tagore was in the spiritual lineage of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna and others. In the lyrical lineage he was obviously reflecting D.L. Roy, Lalon Fakir, Atul Prasad Sen and others.

    Rabindranath Tagore was a pro-British wealthy successor to the vast property left by his grand father Dwarakanath Tagore. In the first decade of the 20th Century he was the leading-most Bengalee intellectual friend of the British Rulers in India.

    During the last decades of the 19th century and in the early 20th century there were popular uprisings, known as the ‘Terroist Movement’ in Bengal. Khudiram Bose was young recruit by such leaders of ‘Terroist Movement’ in Bengal. The British Rulers were very much disturbed by the widespread activities of the volunteers of ‘Terroist Movement’. They needed to pacify the Bengalees. Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore was an attempt in that direction.

    Rabindranath Tagore was not known to the West in the first decade of the 20thth century; hardly any body could have had access to his English edition of Gitanjali; this is obvious from the fact that Rabindranath Tagore was named in the short list of the Nobel Committee for the award of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. It was said that Rabindranath Tagore was knwn to the Swidish Academy as an ‘Anglo-Indian poet’ and not either as an Indian or as a Bengalee.

    In addition, Rabindranath Tagore did not visit Sweden or Norway before or after being awarded the Nobel Prize. The British Ambassador received the prize for and on behalf of Rabindranath Tagore and it was confidentially delivered to Rabindranath Tagore at his Jorasanko residence in Calcutta.
    Had there been no Khudiram Bose or ‘Terrorist Movement’, perhaps there would have been no Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore. Even hundreds of Gitanjali could never open the passage of Nobel Prize for Rabindranath Tagore for Literature in 1913.

    Of course, the high diplomatic circles and political decision makers in London did not like to take any risk and responsibilities and they decided, more or less during the same period, to shift the capital of the British Raj from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1911.

    A.B.M. Shamsud Doulah
    (Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh &
    formerly Assistant Professor of English in
    Jagannath College, Dhaka)
    P.O. 351, Dhaka-1000
    BANGLADESH

    Email: shamsuddoulah@yahoo.com

    • @Shamsuddoulah It’s a real pity, the singularity with which you and your ilk are capable of looking at every matter through a vicious, conspiratorial and communal lens, which simply attenuates your existing intellectual and moral myopia.
      Does it not strike your mind that the message which Tagore expounded and espoused was profoundly rooted in universal humanism and oneness, for which one neither has to be a Brahmo or Hindu or Muslim or Western Christian and at the same time all of these in their true founding essence. And above all one has to have the humanism of a man who has realised his place in the universe as a man among other men, individual yet permeating the hearts and minds of other men, in a universal harmony of collective existence.
      If someone were to meditate on this kernel of truth, he would effortlessly forego the need to delve into the unnecessary and at the best speculative political dimensions of his achievements.
      If I were to refute the pseudo intellectual tosh you have posted, it would perhaps take a fairly long amount of time and space which I cannot devote at present. But let me just put in order some of your glaring convoluted and illiterate notions of history.
      Anders Osterling, in his essay Tagore and the Nobel Prize, has related the story of Tagore’s nomination and consideration for the prize. According to you he was not even recommended, actually T Sturge Moore, the famous English poet and author, had personally nominated him and afterwards Tagore along with the other candidates was considered. The whole story is narrated in the aforementioned essay.
      Perhaps you have never really bothered to read the citation by the Nobel Prize Committee, while awarding the prize to Tagore. I have reproduced a part of it below
      The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913 was awarded to Rabindranath Tagore “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”.
      The Noble committee was always conscious of his Indian Bengali provenance, refer to the Osterling essay.The allusion to the western literary cannon is on account of this particular book being in English and absorbed by the prevalent English mainstream. The said committee had also perused the translations of some of his other works notably The Gardner and Sadhana. Anyways once you read the Osterling article all your doubts regarding Tagore being considered an Anglo Indian by the committee would be dispelled.
      Then again without sufficiently researching you remarked that Tagore never made a Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Well actually it came late on 26 May 1921, when he visited Stockholm and addressed the Royal Swedish Academy and thereby belatedly acknowledged and accepted the honour bestowed upon him.The speech is reproduced in the Third Volume of his Collected English Writings ( Appendix B Page 921).
      Now let us shift our focus on the communal and political balderdash you have managed to seam into the poets life and achievements.
      According to you the prize was some sort of consolation for the Hindu Extremist revolutionaries. What are you really trying to imply here? If a consolation prize, then awarded by whose connivance? The British establishment? Who were gunning for Thomas Hardy’s elevation to the status of a Nobel Laureate that year?
      Furthermore you have tried to berate and besmirch these revolutionaries at more than one place expressly as well as tacitly, and without appropriately contextualizing in Tagore’s life and works. Firstly, these were brave men and women who although belonging to one particular community fought for the independence and integrity of the whole of India. The fact that you and I could breathe the free air today is highly attributable to their timely and explosive courage. I can very well discern your intention behind branding them as terrorists ( connoting in the modern sense of the term) and thereby through some perverse intellectual machination have these self less, secular and morally upright founding fathers equated with the terrorising scum and detritus of another religion who perhaps are the numero uno cause of evils the world faces today.Do not worry they shall be eliminated by the very righteous forces ( and also some others) you have tried to foolishly castigate and your ridiculous deceptions would be of hardly any avail whatsoever.
      Also you found it fit to raise the subject of his Brahmo origins and portray that reformist arm of Hinduism as some sort of closed knit elitist group inimical to the cause of national integration. Actually it was a highly catholic sect and there was no taboo on the admission of a non hindu. Refer to the official histories of the sect.
      Then your criticism regarding the Hindu domination of social and political institutions. If the muslims had adequately heeded the advice of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan they too may have found place in the same hierarchies. If in case the colonial policies which had become highly inimical to the muslims post 1857 come in the way, they ought to have joined hands with the Hindus and fought for the independence of the undivided nation. But alas the intellectual and moral myopia which is my old accusation is also an old disease plaguing the muslims, whose religion was founded with an otherwise juxtaposed philosophy of life on earth. The muslims foolishly played into the hands of the ever divisive colonials( founding of the Muslim League in Dhaka in 1906, to oppose the Congress, inappropriately branded a hindu party by the colonials which the muslims readily brought) and perpetrated a new and more vicious and ultimately catastrophic enmity with the Hindus. Although I must also admit here that some of our leadership of that period for quick political gains also lost sight of the larger picture.
      But however I really do not understand that why should these things be really considered to ascertain the artistic and humanistic genius of Tagore and its due appreciation.
      As for the rest of your calumnies – Tagore being pro British and misplaced fact of the capital shifting fitted in the context of assessing and researching Tagore, I would not deign to stoop to the levels of refuting that and wasting anymore of my time.
      Please be careful about the book you are planning to publish, and research it and articulate your ideas properly and above all contextually. Blaming Hindus wildly and blazing with envy because Muslims have not been able to produce a like of Tagore, would not alleviate the heart wrenchingly piteous state of your country, nor the depredations of your co religionists for their global mischief and nuisance. Tagore was much above all this, in fact he was one of the pioneers who showed the way to bypass this inanity and pettiness. Do not folly by branding him with communal and political insinuations in your work, here I alone have refuted and laughed if a book comes out with a similar strain the world would be endowed with the opportunity to do the same.

    • Also a small rejoinder on your coining of the term Hindu, it was Hinduism which was coined at about 1830-1840, the term hindu is much older. By all your credentials you seem a pretty educated person,yet you hardly defer from supplanting ludicrous statements. Here is the reproduction of a portion from the Wikipedia article to dispel your notions.

      The word Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, first mentioned in the Rig Veda[3], was the historic local appellation for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent[4].
      The Brihaspati Agama says:

      हिमालयं समारभ्य यावदिंदुसरोवरम् ।
      तं देवनिर्मितं देशं हिंदुस्थानं प्रचक्ष्यते ।।
      The land created by the gods which stretched from the Himalayas to the Indu (i.e. Southern) ocean is called Hindusthan, with the हिंदु (Hindu) mentioned in word हिंदुस्थानं (Hindusthan)[5][6].

      The usage of the word Hindu was further popularized for Arabs and further west by the Arabic term al-Hind referring to the land of the people who live across river Indus[7] and the Persian term Hindū referring to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustān emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the “land of Hindus”.[8]
      Originally, Hindu was a secular term which was used to describe all inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent (or Hindustan) irrespective of their religious affiliation. It occurs sporadically in some 16th-18th century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata, usually to contrast Hindus with Yavanas or Mlecchas.[9] It appears in South Indian and Kashmiri texts from at least 1323 CE,[10] and increasingly so during British rule. It was only towards the end of the 18th century that the European merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of Indian religions as Hindus. Eventually, it came to define a precisely religious identity that includes any person of Indian origin who neither practiced Abrahamic religions nor non-Vedic Indian religions, such as Jainism, Sikhism or Buddhism, thereby encompassing a wide range of religious beliefs and practices related to Sanātana Dharma.[11]
      The term Hinduism was formed around 1830 to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmans in contrast to other religions. It was soon appropriated by the Hindus in India themselves as they tried to establish a national, social and cultural identity opposed to European colonialism in India.

  3. @Shamsuddoulah It’s a real pity, the singularity with which you and your ilk are capable of looking at every matter through a vicious, conspiratorial and communal lens, which simply attenuates your existing intellectual and moral myopia.

    Does it not strike your mind that the message which Tagore expounded and espoused was profoundly rooted in universal humanism and oneness, for which one neither has to be a Brahmo or Hindu or Muslim or Western Christian and at the same time all of these in their true founding essence. And above all one has to have the humanism of a man who has realised his place in the universe as a man among other men, individual yet permeating the hearts and minds of other men, in a universal harmony of collective existence.

    If someone were to meditate on this kernel of truth, he would effortlessly forego the need to delve into the unnecessary and at the best speculative political dimensions of his achievements.

    If I were to refute the pseudo intellectual tosh you have posted, it would perhaps take a fairly long amount of time and space which I cannot devote at present. But let me just put in order some of your glaring convoluted and illiterate notions of history.

    Anders Osterling, in his essay Tagore and the Nobel Prize, has related the story of Tagore’s nomination and consideration for the prize. According to you he was not even recommended, actually T Sturge Moore, the famous English poet and author, had personally nominated him and afterwards Tagore along with the other candidates was considered. The whole story is narrated in the aforementioned essay.

    Perhaps you have never really bothered to read the citation by the Nobel Prize Committee, while awarding the prize to Tagore. I have reproduced a part of it below

    The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913 was awarded to Rabindranath Tagore “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”.

    The Noble committee was always conscious of his Indian Bengali provenance, refer to the Osterling essay.The allusion to the western literary cannon is on account of this particular book being in English and absorbed by the prevalent English mainstream. The said committee had also perused the translations of some of his other works notably The Gardner and Sadhana. Anyways once you read the Osterling article all your doubts regarding Tagore being considered an Anglo Indian by the committee would be dispelled.

    Then again without sufficiently researching you remarked that Tagore never made a Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Well actually it came late on 26 May 1921, when he visited Stockholm and addressed the Royal Swedish Academy and thereby belatedly acknowledged and accepted the honour bestowed upon him.The speech is reproduced in the Third Volume of his Collected English Writings ( Appendix B Page 921).

    Now let us shift our focus on the communal and political balderdash you have managed to seam into the poets life and achievements.

    According to you the prize was some sort of consolation for the Hindu Extremist revolutionaries. What are you really trying to imply here? If a consolation prize, then awarded by whose connivance? The British establishment? Who were gunning for Thomas Hardy’s elevation to the status of a Nobel Laureate that year?

    Furthermore you have tried to berate and besmirch these revolutionaries at more than one place expressly as well as tacitly, and without appropriately contextualizing in Tagore’s life and works. Firstly, these were brave men and women who although belonging to one particular community fought for the independence and integrity of the whole of India. The fact that you and I could breathe the free air today is highly attributable to their timely and explosive courage. I can very well discern your intention behind branding them as terrorists ( connoting in the modern sense of the term) and thereby through some perverse intellectual machination have these self less, secular and morally upright founding fathers equated with the terrorising scum and detritus of another religion who perhaps are the numero uno cause of evils the world faces today.Do not worry they shall be eliminated by the very righteous forces ( and also some others) you have tried to foolishly castigate and your ridiculous deceptions would be of hardly any avail whatsoever.

    Also you found it fit to raise the subject of his Brahmo origins and portray that reformist arm of Hinduism as some sort of closed knit elitist group inimical to the cause of national integration. Actually it was a highly catholic sect and there was no taboo on the admission of a non hindu. Refer to the official histories of the sect.

    Then your criticism regarding the Hindu domination of social and political institutions. If the muslims had adequately heeded the advice of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan they too may have found place in the same hierarchies. If in case the colonial policies which had become highly inimical to the muslims post 1857 come in the way, they ought to have joined hands with the Hindus and fought for the independence of the undivided nation. But alas the intellectual and moral myopia which is my old accusation is also an old disease plaguing the muslims, whose religion was founded with an otherwise juxtaposed philosophy of life on earth. The muslims foolishly played into the hands of the ever divisive colonials( founding of the Muslim League in Dhaka in 1906, to oppose the Congress, inappropriately branded a hindu party by the colonials which the muslims readily brought) and perpetrated a new and more vicious and ultimately catastrophic enmity with the Hindus. Although I must also admit here that some of our leadership of that period for quick political gains also lost sight of the larger picture.
    But however I really do not understand that why should these things be really considered to ascertain the artistic and humanistic genius of Tagore and its due appreciation.

    As for the rest of your calumnies – Tagore being pro British and misplaced fact of the capital shifting fitted in the context of assessing and researching Tagore, I would not deign to stoop to the levels of refuting that and wasting anymore of my time.

    Please be careful about the book you are planning to publish, and research it and articulate your ideas properly and above all contextually. Blaming Hindus wildly and blazing with envy because Muslims have not been able to produce a like of Tagore, would not alleviate the heart wrenchingly piteous state of your country, nor the depredations of your co religionists for their global mischief and nuisance. Tagore was much above all this, in fact he was one of the pioneers who showed the way to bypass this inanity and pettiness. Do not folly by branding him with communal and political insinuations in your work, here I alone have refuted and laughed if a book comes out with a similar strain the world would be endowed with the opportunity to do the same.

  4. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to
    this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS
    feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates
    and will talk about this site with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

  5. Tagore’s written magnum opus.
    The movies are available to watch via https://www.flickstree.com.
    Flickstree is a unique startup that helps you find movies you’d love to watch with completely personalized movie suggestions to suit your likings.. Movies that you’d love and not what the world loves in general.
    Additionally, Flickstree also tells you where you can see these films online.

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