Watched Ghare Baire with A today. It isn't one of Ray's most acclaimed films or amongst Tagore's best works but works just fine for me. Must've seen it some 10 times & each time i'm more amazed than before how Tagore could even begin to envisage, let alone draw a man like Nikhil in that era. At the risk of scathing comments, i must say that nobody in india possessed the imagination (which comes from true enlightenment) that the Bongs did. That is why Rammohan Roy, Tagore, Shyama Prosad Mujherjee and Vivekananda are greater heroes for me than Bankim Chandra or Sardar Patel or Nehru. There is a funny comment i've often heard from several women over the years:"Yaar bengali men dont know how to stand up to their women!" Earlier i'd argue that our men believed, much before it became fashionable or common to do so, that women were no less than them for staying indoors and bearing children.
Noble is the single word that comes to mind when describing Nikhil. There's such a telling scene when mastermoshai (his old school master) exhorts him to take strict action against Sandip before it is too late and asks why he indulges Sandip so much. Nikhil's reply is a bemused, "But i did not think he had changed so much. I think his desperation stems from a series of failures he has faced in life. Truly speaking, i feel bad that despite so many outstanding qualities, Sandip couldn't get anywhere in life." These are the words he speaks about his old school mate, a rank opportunist, an immoral, pleasure seeking, insolent rogue of the worst kind who ultimately Nikhil's wife Bimala. This is Nikhil's problem - his essential charity, his ability to distance passion from facts and take a neutral standpoint. Qualities which cost him dear.
This film is also memorable because it clearly demonstrates the difference between Tagore's version of the Swadeshi Andolan and Congress stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi. Nikhil is the voice of reason, of prudence and true patriotism; a voice which rightly says that swadeshi is for the rich, not the poor who are dying of hunger anyway. It is easy to rouse passions and motivate a mob during times of crisis (Lord Curzon's partition of Bengal, opposing the Nano plant or the Sardar Sarovar dam). Sandip and many like him continue to do so even today in the name of serving others and patriotism. But, the truth is that patriotism is a label like everything else and often meaningless.
I'm going to start buying Ray's films now. It's strange that i don't have many of them. Let me see if i can find 'mahanogor' or 'agantuk' next.
The act of healing others is a sacred one - with great power comes great responsibility. The thing with doctors and lovers is that both possess this singular power. You vest both with your boundless faith and are sometimes rewarded, sometimes not. The smarties advise that proper background checks are imperative and reveal much about a person. Where does innate faith exist then, if nothing can be taken at face value? Why believe in God too?