During his Bueno Aires visit in 1924, when Tagore fell seriously ill, she took care of him. Rabindranath Tagore left Buenos Aires on January 3, 1925, after fully recovering from his illness. While Rabindranath was 63, Victoria was 34 back then.
India marked the 80th death anniversary of the great Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore on August 7, a date which is known in West Bengal and Bangladesh as ‘Baishe Srabon’, solemnly marking the day when the poet and playwright passed away. Tagore, the first non-European person to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, was known for reshaping the structural framework of Bengali literature and music, along with other Indian art forms with the advent of modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Argentinian film director Pablo Cesar’s film Thinking of Him, which is based on Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s relationship with Argentine writer Victoria Ocampo, was also released on May 6. The film has been co-produced by filmmaker Suraj Kumar.
‘Thinking of Him’ explores the relationship Rabindranath Tagore shared with famous writer Victoria Ocampo. After reading the French version of Gitanjali, Victoria became a big fan and was very fond of Tagore. It is said that during his Bueno Aires visit in 1924, when Tagore fell seriously ill, she took care of him. Rabindranath Tagore left Buenos Aires on January 3, 1925, after fully recovering from his illness. While Rabindranath was 63, Victoria was 34 back then.
Speaking about his experience of working in India, Pablo César said, “It was a unique experience to shoot in India. I have known India since 1994, although it is difficult to know all of India. But over the years I have understood many things about the idiosyncrasies and behavior of people from many places in India, a country that I personally admire.”
Thinking of him stars Victor Banerjee in the role of Tagore and the Argentine actor Eleonora Wexler in the part of Victoria. The film also stars Raima Sen and Héctor Bordoni in important character roles.
In an interview, Victor Banerjee shared his experience of working with an Argentine crew. He also shared his take on the mysterious yet beautiful relationship shared between Rabindranath Tagore and writer, Victoria Ocampo.
- How was it like to step into the shoes of Tagore?
It was fascinating and wonderful. The character entitled me to explore one of the greatest literary minds in the world. And the relationship between the two has been a subject of great curiosity for many people and I was aiming forward to enacting what the scriptwriter thought.
- Did you take any workshops or read any works of Tagore to prepare for the role?
No. I don’t attend workshops. But the homework I did included reading more about Ocampo because the story mainly revolves about her affection towards Tagore and the people of India. And I also did some research about the Argentine people who were more fascinated by Tagore’s philosophy than his poetry.
- The movie Thinking of Him was made in 2018, any specific reason why it took so long to be released in Indian theatres?
This is a question for the producer. He found it difficult to find proper distributors hence the delay.
- Can you share some memorable experiences while working in the film?
I was going through a personal problem at the time of shooting. When the crew in Argentina came to know about it, over 40 people kneeled down and prayed for me. It was not just a minute of silence, it was a genuine outpour of compassion and I’ll never forget the moment in my life.
- The platonic relationship between Tagore and Ocampo is quite a scandalous and clandestine topic. What’s your take on that?
I was fascinated by the fact that there was this man whose literary creations and works on romanticism were much talked about all over the world and here was a woman in Argentina, thousands of miles away. It was intriguing how Tagore dealt with the fact that Ocampo was infatuated with his mind and totally in love with an abstraction. It is said that Ocampo read the French translation of Gitanjali and started worshiping him as a guru after exploring his philosophical point of view.
Even Eleonora, who played the part of Ocampo, her eyes spoke of a devotion that is difficult to destroy. While doing the film, I felt that their relationship had nothing to do with any physicality or sensuality, it was just a deep devotion from within.
- Do you think that this film will sit well with the Indian audience, especially the Bengali community?
With the Bengalis, I’m pretty sure it won’t sit well because we don’t like any indifference with our idols like Rabindranath and Subhash Chandra Bose. It’s not actually a film for the public domain as it is targeted to a niche audience. I wish parents could encourage their children, especially those studying in Class 10th or more, to go and see it, as they need to learn about the complexity of the relationship shared between Ocampo and Tagore. They need to see that when two literary minds meet they can be fond of one another and have full respect for each other till the end.
The film, titled Thinking of Him, starring Victor Banerjee and Eleonora Wexler, released on May 6. Wexler will be seen in the role of Victoria Ocampo and the movie has been directed by Pablo Cesar. The film also stars Raima Sen and Hector Bordoni in supporting roles.