This is a play aims to capture Rabindranath Tagore as a human being, not as a Nobel laureate, not as a larger –than-life super human, someone who has his passions, his emotions, his tears and his eternal fondness for his friend–death.
Manav Kaul's Colour Blind throws light on the elements of childhood, death, infinity and Tagore's relationship with Victoria Ocampo (played by Kalki Koechlin). Kaul had earlier said in an interview: “I’ve seen so much of Tagore on stage. I wanted to do something where I understand Tagore as a friend, in a very human way.”
There are some very interesting dialogues, but the one which I think captures Tagore best, was when Tagore (Satyajeet) tells Death (Swanand Kirkire): “Ek kavi ki mrityu aadmi kaise ho sakta hai? (How could the death of a poet be a man?” And so, obliging his wish, in the last scene of the play Death actually comes as a beautiful seductress.
It is indeed a very bold effort by the playwright to showcase in an explicitly way the sexual nature of the relationship of Tagore and Ocampo. The director has given direct reference to the muse’s elaborately sighted treatise on her private “encounters” with Tagore. The treatise is also a proof of how desperately then 63-year-old Tagore longed and desired for Ocampo.
The story is also about his youth when he was forever searching for a song, and his childhood (termed as his “servocracy” period), when he was alone and had nobody to play with.
Colour Blind isn’t a biography, it is a poetic, impulsive and intends to discover the ordinariness behind the extraordinariness, the emptiness, vulnerability and pain of human being who becomes the legendary “Gurudev” to the world.
Satyajeet and Kalki held their own with their seamless transformations into Tagore and Ocampo and then the two characters in modern times discussing Tagore, the mortal who is hopelessly in love.
The play is in four languages: English, Hindi, Bengali and French and the narrative moves from one language to another without much effort.
An added attraction was Rabindrasangeet in Swanand’s voice, in his own distinctive style.
All in all, a very honest and bold effort by Kaul in capturing the mortal in flesh and blood hidden deep inside the legendary “Gurudev”.