Chokher Bali, the first story in the series of Stories by Rabindranath Tagore presented by Anurag Basu, takes one to a world gone by – of human relations and traditions, of hidden and disclosed emotions, of tragic and generated situations. Chokher Bali literally means sand in the eye, in a way suggesting,  a constant irritant.

It is the story of a young, talented and educated girl, Binodini, who is widowed at an early age, having to live within the many strict rules that are confined to a widow of that era, although her educated mind does will to protest. Upon knowing that the man who rejected her proposal just days before their marriage, Mahendra, is now happily enjoying his married life with this new wife, Ashalata, Binodini is anguished. Envious of Asha, Binodini decides to get the life that would have been originally hers if her marriage to Mahendra had taken place. Also in the picture is Bihari who looks up to Mahendra as his elder brother and who secretly likes Binodini. The havoc created in the lives of these four people, when Binodini manages to come between the married couple and whom does she ultimately ends up with, forms the rest of the story. Chokher Bali is the name given to each other, when Binodini befriends Ashalata in order to get close to Mahendra.

When the episode started with a beautiful Bengali song amidst rainy weather and led us to the dark waiting room, where Binodini and Bihari meet after six long years, the scene immediately brought back memories of Gulzar’s movie ‘Ijaazat’, where the estranged couple meet in the waiting room on a dark rainy night and the rest of the story in told in flashbacks. ‘Katra katra milti hai…’, the song started playing in my mind as Bihari and Binodini looked at each other as soon as the lamp is lit. Had to shush myself to concentrate. Of course, the actual story was different.

The narration and the introduction of the characters was lovely. Running to watch the train go by is a memory from my childhood. I’ve always travelled in trains, but yet, as a child watching the train whiz past by is a joy unexplained. Beautiful sets and landscapes, excellent camera work, wonderful acting and undoubtedly great direction makes Chokher Bali worth the wait and a treat to watch. Anurag Basu has succeeded in inspiring the actors by encouraging them to give their best and pour life into their characters. The result is their to see. The actors fit perfectly into their roles – Radhika Apte as Binodini, Bhanu Uday as Mahendra, Sumit Vyas as Bihari, Tara Alisha Berry as Ashalata and Beena Banerjee as Mahendra’s mother.

I have never read Tagore’s actual works, except for some rough translations and synopsis. Many times I wished I had learnt Bengali. Therefore this series is going to be a journey of discovery and realisation, of an era gone by, of the Bengali culture and of some mesmerising Rabindra Sangeet.

Translations can never convey the complete essence of an original work. Only an ardent Tagore fan can say to what extent has this series justified the great author’s works. But through this series, we are able to witness at least a glimpse of the marvels that are part of Tagore’s stories. Thank you, Mr.Anurag Basu for introducing the Stories by Tagore to the non-Bengali home.

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