80 Years of ” Natir Pooja ” , A Rabindranath Tagore Film


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 15 , 2012           11.58 P.M.

” Natir Pooja ” . Does this name ring any familiar bell ?

I know the answer . It will be emphatic NO .

” Natir Pooja “ is a Bengali film . Does it make matter easier now ?

I know the answer even this time . It will again be a NO .

” Natir Pooja “ was produced by B. N. Sircar of New Theatres . What ?

Answer will be unanimous . The film evokes no familiarity .

” Natir Pooja “ was filmed at floor number 1 of NT Studio , Kolkata ? Now !

Even a student of cinema will now scratch his head .

” Natir Pooja “ was released in Chitra Talkies , Kolkata on March 14 , 1932 .

Now even the connoisseurs will look the other way .

Well , now let me untangle the mystery .

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” Natir Pooja “ completed 80th year on March 14 , 2012 . It was released on March 14 , 1932 and it is the only feature film directed by legendary Rabindranath Tagore in 1931 . It was based on a dramatised version of Rabindranath Tagore’s long poem Poojarini . It is 2500 year old story of  a Nati [ danseuse ] , who sacrificed herself because of her devotion of Buddha .

Tagore wrote this all – woman play at the behest of his daughter – in – law . It was first performed in Uttarayan , Shantiniketan on the occasion of Tagore’s 70th birthday . Later on a ticketed performance was staged in New Empire of Kolkata for the aid of Vishwa Bharati . B. N. Sircar of New Theatres saw it there and requested Tagore to make it into a film .

English: Rabindranath Tagore Русский: Тагор, Р...

Rabindranath Tagore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tagore , apart from directing the film , also played role of Upala .

Rabindranath Tagore as an Actor in Natir Pooja

Rabindranath Tagore as an Actor in Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Various Scenes of Natir Pooja

Synopsis of Natir Pooja

Synopsis of Natir Pooja

Nitin Bose was the cinematographer of the film . In his later years same Nitin Bose migrated to Mumbai and made many path – breaking films including Dilip Kumar‘s Technicolor ” Ganga Jumna ” .

It is unfortunate and sad that the prints of the film , the only one ever directed by Rabindranath Tagore , were destroyed in a fire that engulfed New Theatres .

I happened to see an article about ” Natir Pooja “ in Screen and was tempted to share it with the students of my acting academy .

It is well-known that Rabindranath Tagore was India’s first Nobel Laureate and the first Asian to get Nobel Prize for literature . It is in common knowledge that he was a poet , story – writer , song – writer , novelist , dramatist , musician , painter and educationist . But it is not in common knowledge that he directed a feature film in Bengali and also acted in it .

I , on behalf of all the students and staff of Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , remember the 8oth anniversary of the film ” Natir Pooja ” , a directorial venture of Rabindranath Tagore .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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80 – Year – Old ” New Theatres “


EVENING…………………………..6.00

Yesterday when I was writing about 80 years of  ” ALAM ARA “ , first Hindi talkie , rather Indian talkie , I came across an article in Screen which states that B. N. Sircar’s legendary film production company ” New Theatres “ also completed 80 years on February 10 , 1931 . It was one month and four days before the epoch making ” ALAM ARA “ , that this legendary production company was launched . ” New Theatres ,   Calcutta [ now Kolkata ] was founded by producer B. N. Sircar a.k.a. Birendranath Sircar, the recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award of 1970.

Logo of New Theatres , Calcutta

Logo of New Theatres , Calcutta

The logo of ” New Theatres ” has an elephant in a circle with a quote from  Upnishads . It was like the famous logo of Hollywood’s production company MGM where a lion used to roar in the same kind of circle . Moto of New Theatres was – Jivatang Jyotiretu Chhayam means [ Light infusing shadows with life ]

Like Ardeshir Irani’s Imperial Movietone , New Theatres of Calautta [ now Kolkata ] produced ” Dena Paona,  the first Bengali talkie. It was released in 1931,  and was directed by Premankur Atarthi . Famous musician Raichand Boral composed music for this movie.

Scene from Dena Paona, 1931 - first Bengali Talkie

Scene from Dena Paona, 1931 - first Bengali Talkie

After first Bangla talkie, ” Dena Paona “ , ” New Theatres ” produced another path breaking film ” Devdas “ in 1935.  P.C. Barua directed and acted in ” Devdas , based on Saratchandra Chatterjee‘s novel ” Devdas and this film became phenomenally successful in the industry.

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935.

Pramathesh Barua and Jamuna Barua in Debdas, 1935.

In 1935, playback singing was first used in India in the New Theartes production Bengali film ” Bhagya Chakraby Nitin Bose. The singers were K C Dey, Parul Ghosh and Suprabha Sarkar. ” Dhoop Chhaon Hindi remake of this film, was the first Hindi film to use playback singing. It was another feather in New Theaters’ cap .

Kanan Devi was the first popular star actress, who appeared in many films produced by ”  New Theatres “ . Also there was a group of talented actors with New Theatres like K.L. Saigal, K. C. Dey, Prithviraj Kapoor, Chhabi Biswas, Bikash Roy, Pahari Sanyal, Basanta Choudhury.

Top directors like Premankur Atarthi, P.C. Barua, Debaki Bose and Nitin Bose worked in New Theatres films. The Famous musicians who worked there include R. C. Boral, Pankaj Mullick and Timir Baran.

New Theatres used to make commendable films till 1955. From 1931 to 1955 , it was a 24 year long and illustrious journey . During this period New Theatres produced 150 path breaking films. Many of them are considered classics today . Name of some of the films , which are considered milestone , are given below :

Of the above mentioned films , I have seen two classics ; Pramathesh Barua directed ” Mukti “ [ 1937 ] and ” Devdas” .  Bimal Roy directed ” Udayer Pathe “ [ 1944 ] was later made in Hindi as ” Naya Zamana  ” starring Dharmendra and Hema Malini. I have seen the Hindi version.

Among all the illustrious directors , who worked in ” New Theatres ” , I was fortunate enough to meet Phani Majumdar and was able to take his blessings. Phani da made his debut with ” Street Singer “ , a Kundan Lal Sehgal starrer. It had famous Sehgal song – BABUL MORA NAIHAR CHHUTO HI JAY .  Later on he directed successful films like ” Aarti “ [ first film of Rajshri banner ] , ” Akashdeep ” and ” Oonche Log ” . I was fortunate enough to meet his actress wife Monice Desai also. Phani da died in 1994, when I was starting my acting training career.

After 55 years ” New Theatres ” , the legendary banner , is again producing a new film.

Ami Aadu (Upcoming Film, 2011) – Directed by Somnath Gupta

[I have taken some portions of this blog from the internet sites like Wikipedia and reproduced it here . Some facts are taken from Screen weekly. I express my gratitude .]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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