Journal article Open Access

Film as a Dangerous Supplement: A Comparative Study of Tagore's Atithi (1895) and Tapan Sinha's Atithi (1965)

Subhadeep Pradhan

Focusing on two primary texts- Rabindranath Tagore’s short story Atithi (1895) and its Bengali film adaptation, also named Atithi (1965), by the Bengali film-maker Tapan Sinha- the present study serves two purposes. First, it identifies some independent elements in the film which were not there in the story and treats these elements found in the film as “supplements” (as conceived and understood by Jacques Derrida) to the story. They are not necessary to the plot, yet their mere presence enhances the appeal of the text and creates a more fulfilling system of meaning. Second, the study admits that the film, though based on the short story, stands apart by its own virtue. The short story is essentially lyrical because of its inherent poetic nature which is caused by its lack of dialogues and its emphasis on one particular themethe theme of freedom. Here the narrator’s voice reigns supreme, reflecting only the narrator’s worldview. The film, on the other hand, allows the free play of different perspectives of different characters by using dialogues. In this context, analysing the film using Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of heteroglossia and dialogism can create a significant discourse regarding the flexible nature of storytelling that the medium of film characterizes. The goal of this study is to suggest that the film adaptation of the short story is more fitting than the story itself to render the theme of freedom as reflected by Tagore. In the process, this paper shall also try to address the relevance of film adaptations of literary texts in the current time.

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