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Priyanka Chopra to produce film on Rabindranath Tagore's first love

Tagore's unrequited love story will be the subject of the next film from the actress' Purple Pebble Pictures stable.

Shriram Iyengar

After films in Marathi, Bhojpuri, Sikkimese, Goan and Punjabi, Priyanka Chopra's Purple Pebble Pictures is set to make a Bengali film. The actress has proved a prolific producer, having picked up projects like the triple National award winning Ventilator (2016), Sarvann, soon to release Pahuna (Sikkimese), and Little Joe (Konkani-Marathi). Now, the production house plans to take up a Bengali-Marathi bilingual film, which will also be dubbed in Hindi, based on the unrequited love story between Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and his first teacher, Annapurna Turkhud. The film is likely to go on the floors in October.

The story revolves around the early incidents in the life of young Rabindranath Tagore. In 1878, a 17 year old Rabindranath Tagore was sent to Bombay to learn the manners and the language of the English before his trip to Britain. It is here that he met Annapurna Turkhud, who was to be his mentor and teacher. Having returned from England, Annapurna was a courageous young woman, whose ideas influenced the young poet. He even gave her a pen name, Nalini, and made her the object of several of his poems. However, this relationship was not looked upon too kindly by Tagore's father, who brought it to an end. In 1880, Annapurna Turkhud married a Scotsman, Harold Littledale, and moved overseas.

National award winning director Ujjwal Chatterjee will helm the project, which was written by his wife, Sagarika. In a report, Ujjwal Chatterjee was quoted as saying, "It was a platonic love story and the film will narrate it from the point of view of a young student, who visits modern-day Santiniketan and sees a picture of Annapurna captioned ‘Nalini’." The director added, "Casting is in progress and the film is expected to go on the floors by October."

The production is leaving no stone unturned in the background work on the script. Chopra even sent out a personal request to the Vice-chancellor of Viswa Bharati University to vet the script. Swapan Dutt, VC of Viswa Bharati University was quoted by a report saying, "We have received the letter from Madhu Chopra. We have asked for the details of the script and it will be given to a committee. It is important to see if the script has adhered to the historical facts." Dutta also added, "If someone works independently, it is his or her responsibility to ensure factual accuracy of the content. However, if someone approaches us in writing for help, we have to be very careful. Tagore is everyone's wealth and no one's property. We are all stakeholders."

While a number of Tagore's stories have been adapted in Indian cinema, filmmakers have consciously stayed away from his life. The late Rituparno Ghosh had attempted to recreate some events from the great poet's life in his last documentary, Jibonsmriti (2013). Producer Madhu Chopra said of the film, "Priyanka wants good stories to reach audiences. Nalini has great potential and is an entertaining subject. We’re happy to be associated with it."