The Bengali Original – Chokerbaliwas written by Tagore. Its Translation is titled Binodini in English. Apparently, Binodini was what Tagore intially thought of naming his Bengali book – not sure how it ended up being called Chokerbali. I watched the movie Chokerbali – starring Aishwarya Rai. But, as in most cases, the book is way better.
“The book is a classic exposition of an extramarital affair” – begins the review written behing the book – rightly so. Characters are not painfully preachy and impractically righteous – they have shades of grey. This was enough for me to take an instant liking to this book. Characters’ actions are so much closer to people in real life – they err, they seduce, play with others’ minds, later call it “playful”, they change their minds, plot, avenge, justify their mistakes to themselves, take pride in others’ failures and their own successes – makes an aaassom reading. Lots of interesting conversations scattered thru out the book.
A young, newly wed couple – self-centered Mahendra and naïve, girl-like Ashalata live happily. Bihari is Mahendra’s loyal childhood friend. First, Mahendra refuses to marry Asha. Then, Mahendra’s mother coaxes Bihari to marry her. But, Mahendra takes a liking to her when they go to see her and marries her.
Binodini, the protagonist, after whom the book is named, is a young widow. Previously both Mahendra and Bihari refuse Binodini’s hand in wedding even without seeing her. With the introduction of beautiful, vivacious, Binodini, there is an upheaval in the Mahendra household. Binodini befriends Ashalata and thru her, plays with Mahendra’s mind. Mahendra gets attactred to Binodini. But slowly, Binodini takes a liking to Bihari.
It ends up like Binodini loves Bihari, Bihari loves Asha – but does not acknowledge it – even to himself, Asha loves and is devoted to Mahendra and Mahendra loves Binodini.
What unfolds is beautiful. Definitely worth a read. Tagore’s Words impart so much life to each character – they come out of the book and start living around you. He expresses very complex human emotions effortlessly.