Rabindranath Tagore

1961, India. Documentary, 54 min, B/W


The documentary details the life and work of the celebrated Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.” Rabindranath Tagore was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, born in Calcutta. He was educated at home. At seventeen he was sent to England for formal schooling, which he did not complete. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honor as a protest against British policies in India.

The documentary was made to celebrate Tagore’s birth centenary in May 1961. Ray was conscious that he was making an official portrait of India’s celebrated poet and hence the film does not include any controversial aspects of Tagore’s life. However, it is far from being a propaganda film.

The film comprises dramatized episodes from the poet’s life and archived images and documents.


The dramatized sequences of boy Rabi (Rabindranath Tagore) and young Tagore in his twenties are moving and lyrical. Ray has been reported to have said, “Ten or twelve minutes of it are among the most moving and powerful things that I have produced”.


  • President’s Gold Medal, New Delhi, 1961
  • Golden Seal, Locarno, 1961
  • Special Mention, Montevideo, 1962


Producer:Films Division, Govt. of India
Script. commentary & Direction:Satyajit Ray
Cinematography:Soumendu Roy
Editing:Dulal Dutta
Art Direction:Bansi Chandragupta
Music:Jyotirindra Moitra


Raya Chatterjee, Sovanlal Ganguli, Smaran Ghosal, Purnendu Mukherjee, Kallol Bose, Subir Bose, Phani Nan, Norman Ellis

Young Rabindranath at Jorasanko ©Teknica
Young Rabindranath at Jorasanko ©Teknica
Young Rabindranath ©Teknica
Young Rabindranath ©Teknica
Rabindranath Tagore, Author of both Ghare Baire and Charulata
Tagore, Bengal mystic and poet
A sketch of Tagore by Ray ©Ray Family
A sketch of Tagore by Ray ©Ray Family