Bi Feiyu is big Tagore fan, Bollywood buff

Kolkata: Describing Rabindranath Tagore as somebody still very influential in the neighbouring country, one of China`s best known novelist Bi Feiyu says he grew up reading poems by the Nobel laureate and watching Bollywood films.

"I was a huge fan of Tagore when I was young. I have read a lot of his poems. His stories and novels reflect his pure and unbridled love for mankind. His works cross all barriers of language, geography or culture," says the winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize 2010 for his book "Three Sisters".

During his first visit to India to attend the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Feiyu told PTI here that "Tagore is still very influential in China. Almost all young people are interested in literature and know his name".

Tagore was the first thinker of modern India to be invited by the thinking elite of China, along with the likes of John Dewey and Bertrand Russell, as the Chinese grappled with the question of their place in the twentieth century.

Increasing the Sino-Indian cultural intercourse, the bard had forged an indelible bond with China with his regular visits across the border. During his 63rd birthday in 1941, the Chinese had conferred him the title "Zhu Zhendan".
Famous Chinese poet Xu Zhimo too had a long-standing friendship with Tagore.

Paying tribute to "Gurudev", the 47-year-old author and screenwriter Feiyu made it a point to visit Jorasanko, Tagore`s ancestral home in north Kolkata, during his India trip. .

Having co-written the script for Zhang Yimou`s 1996 film "Shanghai Triad", he admits that he too is a Bollywood buff like other Indians. "I watched a lot of Indian films in my youth, I knew then that India is a great film country. The things that fascinated me most were the singing and dancing," he says.

The author recalls that reading Tagore literature years ago had made him visualise India as a very beautiful nation. "I came here with the image that India is a very beautiful country where there are trees and flowers everywhere. The sound of the rivers and the birds and the enchanting beauty of the open sky is what I think when I think of India," he says.

The two-time winner of the prestigious Lu Xun Prize for literature regrets that not many of Tagore works have been translated into Chinese. "We expect more translations in the near future as Tagore`s popularity has not decreased in China. This will give me more opportunity to read his other works as well," he hopes.

Often described as China`s best male writer on the female psyche, Feiyu produces well-drawn characters with indulgent metaphors. His book "Three Sisters" recounts the story of three women -all siblings struggling to survive the aftermath of China`s cultural revolution, a complex moral tale that also illuminates the country`s rise from sleeping tiger to global power.