With Radhika Apte, Tara-Alisha Berry, Sumeet Vyas. Chokher Bali revolves around four vital characters Mahendra, his friend Bihari, his wife Ashalata and. After reading the other two answers here, I am tempted to share a word of caution : the ending of Tagore’s novel ‘Chokher Bali’ is pretty different in content from. To ask other readers questions about Chokher Bali, please sign up. Let me clarify that rating: 4 stars for Rabindranath Tagore’s novel, 2 stars for Sukhendu.

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Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore. Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore. One of the most famous novels of Tagore and a timeless classic of Bengali literature. First published as a serial, a novel on love, family and sexuality in Bengal society.

Paperbackpages. Published January yagore by Rupa first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Chokher Baliplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Aug 11, Madhulika Liddle rated it liked it. Let me clarify that rating: Neither of the men do marry her all without ever having met the girland eventually arrangements are made for Bihari to marry the teenaged Asha. Bihari falls in love with Asha, but so does Mahendra—and he ends up marrying Asha.

The married life of the young couple is blissful: Little does this family realize that Binodini, bitter and resentful at tayore way she was spurned, sight unseen, by both Mahendra and Bihari, wants her revenge.

Her befriending of Asha is merely a means to get to Mahendra—and to seduce him. Each character is deftly etched, never black, never white, cchokher shades of grey—and each character has a definite character arch: When in love, they can be both desperately devoid of sense, and they can be nervous. They can shower hcokher with affection one moment, snap at them the next. Vow fidelity one morning, be unfaithful that night. Affection, honour, selflessness, jealousy, spite, selfishness… all are here, and more.

It is a story of how each of our personal relationships has its own power equations at work: Or especially when it comes to those we love. If only the translation had been better.

Chokher Bali (film) – Wikipedia

And these are only three examples of a lot of instances of errors. View all 15 tagoree. View all 4 comments. Don’t you want somebody to love? Don’t you need somebody to love? Wouldn’t you love somebody to love? You better find somebody to love. Were the guidelines of propriety invented by man or laid down by higher Somebody To Love When the garden flowers Rsbindranath, are dead, yes And your mind, your mind Is so full of red.

Were the guidelines of propriety invented by man or laid down by higher powers to segregate and set men against each other if conformity was challenged? Leo Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert and countless others have explored the theme of illicit chokhfr in their works but what characterizes Tagore’s ‘Chokher Bali’ is it’s humane attempt to capture the ambiguity of virtue in a patriarchal society reeling under major social and political upheaval in its search for identity prior to Independence.

Set in late 19th Century Bengal, ‘Choker Bali’ revolves around the life of a wealthy family whose inner family dynamic which rested on the gentle stasis between the progressive Mahendra and his widowed mother, collapses under the duress of altered circumstances. Rajalakshmi, the mother, is kept company in her old age by her sister-in-law who is also a widow, and Behari, a very close friend of Mahendra is also a part of the family circle. The story begins with an episode where both Mahendra and Behari turn down a marriage proposal from a certain Binodini without as much as a glance at her photograph, unknowing then, of how her life would get entangled with their rzbindranath in the near future.

Rajalakshmi frets, but is soon mollified when her subsequent efforts bear fruition and a marriage is arranged between the teenaged Asha and Mahendra. In the early days of connubial bliss, the young couple stay cooped up in bed and this consummation of early love causes Mahendra to miss classes at the University where he is training to become a doctor.


On this pretext, the first cracks form in his relationship with his mother who suddenly feels jilted and displaced rabindanath her earlier position of undivided adulation in her son’s affections. H Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’, the metaphorical umbilical cord that rabihdranath thus conjoined mother and son is severed after the entry of Asha, and so the mother decides to take a journey to her village for a change of scenery.

After her sojourn, she returns with Binodini, who has since been married and widowed, in tow. They strike up a friendship which is based on mutual understanding and a sense of shared fate which has placed them in the same boat as widowed women braving the storm of social stigma, albeit their differences in age.

Being born a woman in a hypocritical society that held on to such regressive thought was indeed tough luck. Women were expected to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands, which would be lighted with sandalwood so that after the flames would consume their flesh, their souls would arise in a fragrant plume of dust and be blown by the wind towards the heavens in obeisance to will of the gods.

Whereas if a man were to lose his wife, the selfsame deities would be glad to open the gates of heaven to the solitary female traveler whose other half would be left back in the realm of the living.

Rabindranath Tagore’s Norm-Defying Novel, Chokher Bali | Owlcation

What sort of divine logic was that? Even after its abolition, widows were still considered pariah, and would live in isolation and penury till the end of their days since their worldly worth had been eroded irreversibly by fate. Binodini was a beautiful and educated woman and her rapport with Rajalakshmi gradually endeared her chokhet the rest of the household with her witticisms and austerity.

Being not far apart in age, she develops a close bond with Asha, who gives her the nickname, Chokher Bali. By this time, Mahendra, who is by nature a pretentious youth chhokher writes poetry in Chkkher, the language of rabinfranath colonial masters and dresses in the latest Western fashions, wearies of his wife, because in tagorre of her beauty, she fails to arouse in him an enduring passion on account of her being an uneducated simpleton with whom he cannot share his feelings.

There was also a superstition in those times that an educated woman was bound to become a widow, and so Asha was contended to play her part in the charade of life.

In one incident, a letter containing a love rabindranzth in English dedicated to Asha falls into the hands of the mother, who makes Binodini read it out to her. She, in turn is perplexed by the language used and takes it to the Catholic nun who had schooled her in her youth.

Verses in the poem depicting “the beloved’s lips as flowers” and “the sweet nectar of her honeysuckle breasts” rabinsranath the nun’s chubby virginal cheeks blush, and to certain effect, Tagore manages to infuse humour into the tale. But things get complicated when, on a picnic, Mahendra shifts his attentions to Bali, who is taken up with Behari and his talk of the nationalist movement of rbaindranath he was a part. In the love triangle that ensues, Behari who claims to have taken an oath of bachelorhood in return for Independence of the country, in spite of temptation, gracefully wards off the playful advances of Bali.

But they strike up a camaraderie which is resented by Mahendra, which brings about a new found frigidity in their friendship. In a world where a widow’s place was in the flames, the very thought of her remarriage was taboo.

Mahendra, whose tahore had grown darker on having to resist the temptation of having the object of his desire dangling before his eyes, succumbs to temptation and Bali, being dependent on the good graces and hospitality of chokhed host, capitulates to his embraces. Is adultery a sin? She convinces herself that if one confesses wrongdoing to god, the sin ceases to stain the conscience, as her Catholic tutor had once taught her.

But was she a widow by choice? In addition to the three mastheads that had formed her identity as a widow, a young woman, and one in financially dire straits, her experiences with Mahendra disturbed the tripartite disharmony of her life, and she discovered deep within her, pleasures of the flesh. In spite of the affair, Behari was also in her thoughts and she held him in high regard for his uprightness and patriotic zeal.


The sanctity of the marriage bond has been questioned often enough but in those days, the very thought of such indiscretion would warrant ostracization.

Ultimately, they are discovered and Bali is exiled to her village amid much scandal and bad blood, and Asha in her grief goes on a balj to the holy city of Kashi. What sets Tagore apart from his Western contemporaries, for better or worse, is his use of mysticism and religious ethos, to define the way his protagonists think and act. In a bli underwhelming end to the story, he takes the reader to the ghat town of Kashi, on the banks of the holy river Ganges, where Bali makes one last attempt to salvage some pride by marrying Behari but aborts after securing a promise from him, leaving behind a letter of regret, informing of her departure for the ‘New Country’, alluding to the impending partition of the country.

While this book asks all the right questions, the answers, however, are hard to come by. The treatment accorded to widows was deplorable but the moralist will ask whether misfortune entails one to betray the trust of a friend by taking up tafore her cchokher out of sexual depravity even if he wants it as much as xhokher do. Tagore weaves the character of Bali masterfully with multiple brush strokes and presents her circumstances, both, as a product rabindranatb the culmination of the rabindfanath ills of the day as well as her own weakness.

It is impossible to judge in matters of the heart, but does one smudged line blot the bigger picture? Wong Kar-wai’s ‘In The Mood For Love’ perfectly captures the initial stages of a crumbling marriage, and Orhan Pamuk’s ‘The Museum of Innocence’ provides a modern example of how forbidden love can often end tragically, but Tagore’s treatment of the subject of infidelity must be lauded for its revolutionary and uninhibited approach in portraying Bengali society.

Even though he indulges in exposition of religious hypocrisy and superstition, the author imposes in its stead a line of ambivalent moral questioning and casuistry which could have been avoided. One issue I have with the book is the shoddy translation.

Sentences end rabindramath and the dialogues are rather blunt.

Chokher Bali

It would help to have seen Rituparno Ghosh’s movie adaptation of the rabindranarh since it will help to fill in the blanks which have been lost in translation. Tagore died before independence but his contribution to the tagire movement lives on and likewise, his fictional prophecy regarding partition proved to be correct. Independence was celebrated with much fanfare but the invisible hand from London that had cut apart and lacerated the limbs of the subcontinent had left in its wake suppurating sores that took long to heal.

The Western border probably was the worst affected by this dictum. Bengal was not spared either and amidst all the chaos of partition, it is into this newfangled country with the promise of a new destiny, that Tagore saw fit to send his heroine in her quest to escape from the tentacles of fate that had brought her nothing but ruin. I later read Home and the World and while I enjoyed the story I thought the translation by Surendranath Tagore was lacking.

Tagore translated in English has always had a stilted and archaic quality.

I cannot fully express how much I enjoyed this novel. It felt so contemporary in so many ways. Binodini is confident, in control of her sexuality, and an intellectual who enjoys reading Bengali literature.

Chokherr also got an interesting insight into Brahmo society and thought and a possible insight into the way some of my great great great grandparents lived and thought. Jan 17, Surabhi Sharma rated it it was amazing Shelves: Dec 04, Akshi rated it it tagoge amazing Shelves: Chokher Bali is such a complicated story of love, lust and longing.

I finished it in less than 2 days – I wanted to take time to absorb each development but it is so fast and compelling that I could not cnokher it down.