Tales of Transformation

Author/Editor:
Lopamudra Banerjee

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Reputed authors say about this book:

This sleek book is a very sensitively executed effort at bringing Nobel Laureate Gurudeb Tagore’s two dance dramas, Chitrangada, and Chandalika to a global audience, by Lopamudra Banerjee, a poet, the lyrical intensity of whose writings, has always left me spellbound. These enchanting tales of transformation, embodying the essence of womanhood, not only captivate, but carry within themselves the heady aroma of flowers, which engulfs you completely by the time you finish reading them. Like two splinters of golden sun rays they are sure to illumine and scintillate the literary world.

~ Dr. Santosh Bakaya [Author of ‘Ballad of Bapu’, ‘Where are the lilacs?’, ‘Under the Apple Boughs’, ‘Flights from my Terrace’ and ‘A Skyful of Balloons’]

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Lopamudra Banerjee’s translations of two of Rabindranath Tagore’s classic dance dramas — Chitrangada and Chandaalika — point to her deep engagement as much with feminist narratives as they do with translating Tagore. In rendering these two important musical plays with strong female protagonists into English, Banerjee uses her poetic sensibilities to charming effect. Her translations of these two works also reflect her keen understanding of Tagore’s text and its power to transform.

~ Bhaswati Ghosh [Poet, award-winning translator of ‘My Days With Ramkinkar Baij’, Editor-at-large, Café Dissensus journal]

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Introduction

“Since childhood, I have been fed on a rich diet of Tagore books. Tagore songs and dance dramas performed in my very young days have had a huge impact on my psyche, like any other true Bengali. This slim volume is my humble homage to the richness of Tagore’s dance drama in the form of English translation, adding a bit to the already rich repertoire of Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore books in English.

‘Chitrangada’ and ‘Chandalika’, two dance dramas written by Rabindranath Tagore, were composed during the end of nineteenth century and early twentieth century respectively, and the rich melodies of Tagore’s poetry are abundantly present in both these dance dramas. ‘Chitrangada’, based on the love life of Arjun, the third Pandava of Mahabharata and the princess of Manipur, was composed by Tagore in 1892. ‘Chandalika’, on the other hand, based on a Buddhist legend, was published in 1938 and staged in Kolkata as a Tagore dance drama for the first time during the same year. During the British colonial regime, this genre of dance drama, fusing the elements of story, plot, characterization, Tagore’s lyrical poetry, songs and abhinaya (acting) was a very unique concept and Tagore makes the best use of this genre.

Both the dance dramas are subtly woven tales of transformation of the female protagonists, Chandalika and Chitrangada. The spirit of feminism and the spirit of inquiry shines through both of these female protagonists originally created by Tagore. Being a poet myself and having a strong leaning towards feminine subjectivity, it has been my ardent desire to present these two distinctive Tagore dance dramas to the global readers through English translation. My quest in this translation is to exemplify how Tagore was way ahead of his times in demonstrating the spirit of womanhood and defying the societal perceptions of gender and caste by creating these characters and tales.

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Lopamudra Banerjee

Dallas, Texas, USA
About the Author/Editor

Lopa Banerjee is an Indian-Bengali poet, author and editor living in Texas, USA who has nine books on Amazon (including anthologies) to her credit. She has a Masters’ in English with a thesis in Creative Nonfiction writing from the University of Nebraska, and also a Masters’ in English from the University of Calcutta. She is the author of the Journey Awards 2015 winning memoir Thwarted Escape, and the critically acclaimed poetry collection Woman And Her Muse. She has translated Nobel laureate Tagore’s selected works of fiction as The Broken Home And Other Stories and two dramas of Tagore, Tales of Transformation (English translation of Tagore’s Chitrangada and Chandalika). Among her latest works are a poetry film/short film in collaboration with two other poets (upcoming) and an anthology on gender violence titled Muffled Moans Unleashed (as co-editor). A recipient of the Woman Achiever Award 2018 instituted by International Women’s Short Film Festival, The Reuel International Prize for poetry (2017) and for translation (2016), she wears many hats. She is also a featured poet/artist performing poetry/spoken words in Texas (at Power 214 Radio station, Dark Moon Poetry, Houston PoetryFest, I Want To Hear You Sistah among others). She is the Consultant Editor at Blue Pencil Publishers, New Delhi, India and an online writing consultant/workshop mentor at Dimensions, Kolkata.