The love story between Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo -- the Argentine whose songs India's Nobel Laureate poet could hear from the sky and to whom he dedicated his life -- is the subject of a new movie by Argentine director Pablo Cesar.
"Thinking of Him" will be about Ocampo, the fiery feminist, writer and woman of the world, and the way her meeting with Tagore changed the lives of both.
"The Tagore-Victoria story is fantastic material for a film. I am glad that I have been able to interest Pablo Cesar. I liked his preliminary script and the title he has chosen for his movie," R. Viswanathan, the Indian ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, told IANS over e-mail.
Cesar had also made the first Indian-Argentine co-production "Unicornio".
Victoria was a writer, editor and culture activist, a free and wilful spirit who held Tagore under her spell when he stayed at her home during his visit to Argentina in 1924.
"Victoria was very excited when Tagore came to Buenos Aires in 1924. In her own words, it was one of the great events of his life. She wrote an article in La Nacion that she welcomed Tagore and hosted him for two months. There is talk of platonic love between the 63-year-old Tagore and the 34-year-old Victoria," Viswanathan recollected.
The Indian envoy in Buenos Aires has just finished reading "Victoria Ocampo - Writer, Feminist and Woman of the World", a 170-page summary of her autobiography. The full autobiography in Spanish runs into six volumes. The translated summary is by American Patricia Owen Steiner.
"Victoria wanted to be a writer in her youth. She read Tagore's 'Gitanjali' in 1914 and said 'it fell like celestial dew on my anguishing 24-year heart'. She described Tagore's poetry as 'magical mysticism', radiating 'happiness and serenity'," Viswanathan said.
"Gitanjali" was the book of poems for which Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
On his part, Tagore was "rejuvenated by Ocampo's flower-filled garden that overlooked the scenic bank of the immense Plata river", the ambassador quoted from the book. "Victoria was the muse of his Purabi poems in which he referred to her as Vijaya."
One of Tagore's most famous songs starts "I know you, foreigner" and goes on to say "I have seen you in the middle of the heart... I have heard your song when I listened to the sky, I have dedicated my life to you... I have come to you after roaming the world, I am a guest at your doorstep."
On her part, Victoria had a spiritual awakening from her encounter with Tagore. "She was overawed by his intellect and felt like a child before him. She mostly listened to him and did not dare to express herself.
"The Tagore-Ocampo encounter opened an intellectual, literary, cultural and spiritual bridge between India and Argentina. Since then there has been a strong Argentine tradition of spiritual and cultural interest in India," the ambassador said.
Writer and historian Ketaki Kushari Dyson, who has researched Ocampo's life extensively, says: "I realised that of all the gifted and attractive women with whom Tagore had come into direct contact in his long life, Ocampo was possibly the most distinguished."
After Tagore left Argentina, the poet and Ocampo met once more in 1930 in France. "The meeting was not pre-meditated. Ocampo's life had undergone significant upheavals which Tagore was not aware of," Dyson says.
Ocampo, who was also inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent struggle, in 1968 received an honorary doctorate from the Vishwa Bharati University set up by Tagore in Santiniketan, West Bengal.