When I first took up the project of Kadambari, I felt a huge sense of responsibility. Kadambari is an iconic character and her dramatic story has been talked about, misrepresented, fabricated and even sensationalised in many literary pieces. Nonetheless, one can’t deny the fact that it is a dramatic life which has been popularised by her intimate association with Rabindranath Tagore and the manner in which she ended her life. To bring about that drama one has to explore the larger sociological backdrop in which she came as a nine-year-old bride to Jorasanko Thakurbari. Her coming of age, her extremely interesting relationship with Rabindranath, the family dynamics of Thakurbari, the influence of her multi-talented husband Jyotirindranath and finally the dramatic events in her life leading to one of the greatest personal tragedies in Bengal’s history. What I intended in my screenplay was to bring out this human drama in the given sociological context.
Kadambari Devi: Konkona Sensharma
Konkona is an enigma to me. Ever since I first saw her in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer I wondered about her acting skills. Then one by one over the last decade she has delivered some phenomenal performances. From the film festival crowds abroad to the audience in Bengal, she has conquered the hearts of all and sundry with her acting. For Kadambari, I needed someone with an amalgam of intelligence and vulnerability for which I could not think of anyone apart from her.
Rabindranath Tagore: Parambrata Chattopadhyay
The choice of Rabindranath was very tricky. It is a huge responsibility to portray such an icon on screen. Apart from being a brilliant actor, Param has a natural flair and erudition which is a must for this role. Over the years he has really matured as an actor. So, casting Param as Rabindranath makes me feel secure.
Jyotirindranath Tagore: Koushik Sen
My association with Koushikda goes back to when I worked with him in Dwando. I am an avid follower of his theatre work and I personally respect him a lot as a person. He is an artiste in the truest sense. His acting prowess has fascinated me for years. So for Jyotirindranath — who was no less talented than Rabindranath — an actor of the calibre of Koushikda can bring out the different shades, which is a director’s delight.
Satyendranath Tagore: Srikanto Acharya
Satyendranath was the first ICS officer and a true libertarian. His contribution to Bengal society and the freedom that he allowed his wife Gyanodanandini broke traditions in the conservative rituals of Thakurbari. Srikantoda has that progressive look in him and his voice and diction bring out the confidence which defines Satyendranath. I had a tough time convincing him to act and I am glad he is doing the role.
Gyanodanandini Devi: Titas Bhowmik
In the annals of the history of Bengali women, Gyanodanandini would be one of the most important personalities. She was one of the early modernists in the truest sense. So I needed someone with sophistication and panache to portray the character with zest. It was in Koushikda’s play Notir Pujo that I had watched Titas first. Ever since, her powerful portrayal was etched in my mind.
Debendranath Tagore: Sanjoy Nag
Sanjoy has a serenity in his eyes which I have hardly seen in anyone. Somehow when I was writing the screenplay of Kadambari, his eyes hovered in my mind... so Sanjoy was an obvious choice to portray the stoic personality of Debendranath with the calmness which characterises him.