Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

I was reluctantly catching up on news and there was Girish Karnad beaming up at the camera, after his remark became part of the legions of  breaking news, when he said Rabindranath Tagore’s plays were mediocre.

Forgive me, but how does that become breaking news (by now we should be immune to this) and why the uproar?

The journalist asked him how he could say such a thing about a Nobel Laureate. Karnad said Tagore won that award for his poetry and he didn’t question the brilliance of his poetry. The journalist refused to allow this to sink in and in a voice that seemed to be pleading to Karnad’s better side, told Karnad that Tagore had penned the National Anthem of India and was it not disrespectful to say such a thing about Tagore.

Wait! Did Karnad abuse Tagore when he said his plays were mediocre?

Courtesy: from google images search

The response to art is subjective. If Tagore was alive he would have probably shrugged his shoulders and carried on with his poems, sketches, his plays. Why is the country taking it so personally?

Why is it that we cannot question or disagree or not want to fall at the feet of individuals like Mahatma Gandhi or Tagore in this case? Why should we put them in a glass showcase and place a placard outside that says ‘Revere or else…’.

I haven’t read a lot of Tagore and have a vague memory of his sketches at NGMA, which I quite liked. But I have the freedom to not like his plays, don’t I?  If I am particularly well-read and come from the theatre space where I have the opportunity to place Tagore’s plays among an array of plays by other playwrights, and out of the perspective i gain, rate it as mediocre would that be too presumptuous? You don’t have to buy my argument or back slap me for this astute observation…you know one man’s poison is another man’s wine or something like that, don’t you?

As if this was not ridiculous enough a Bengali theatre personality was interviewed and he said that one has to understand Tagore’s philosophy before one can appreciate his plays. Fair enough. He proceeded to say ‘If Tagore is first rate, Karnad is second rate. If Karnad is third rate, Tagore is second rate.’ Figure that one out!

Here’s a tongue-in-cheek piece on the controversy that i found on DNA –
Here’s what you have to understand about Bengal’s fascination for Tagore — he’s the coolest son of the soil we’ve produced. He was tall, good looking and did not have a noticeable potbelly. This is rare.”  Read on –