What A Biopic Of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Can Look Like

What A Biopic Of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Can Look Like

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Thursday, July 20, 2023 01:06 PM IST
What A Biopic Of Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Can Look Like An impression of the poster of Jagadish Chandra Bose's biopic, if it ever comes to be
  • Such a film would have its share of dramatic, emotional, and cinematic moments.

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer will soon be out but the hype and rave reviews are already coming.

That makes one think: can a biopic on a similar scale be done on an Indian scientist?

How about the man who literally proved that even plants 'have feelings'—Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose

What might the main plot points of this biopic be? What would be the most dramatic and cinematic moments of this film?

Here's a wish list, all drawn from the life of Acharya Bose.

  • His transcendental experience when he goes to Gangotri – trekking towards the origin of Ganga.

  • His fight against unfair salary discrimination in college under British administration. Despite his family's financial struggles, he protested by working without pay. As a result, the administration was forced to negotiate with him.

  • His demonstration of the wireless propagation of electromagnetic waves to do very physical things including triggering a pistol – which definitely shows him to be the pioneer scientist in the field. (The biography by Prof. Kunal Ghosh, Unsung Genius, can be a good sourcebook here to guide the script and dramatization without compromising on the science).

  • His keen interest in plant life and how inanimate matter responds to stress. Using highly sensitive detection instruments to study plant movements. Constructing these instruments with the help of local artisans. Demonstrating his findings at the Royal Society, facing hostility and colonial prejudice from those who wanted to maintain strict divisions between physics and physiology.

  • One of his opponents, Augustus Waller, plagiarizing his work. A battle ensued, but ultimately, Bose emerged victorious. He showcased his triumph at the Linnaean Society in July 1902.

    (Interestingly, 44 years earlier, in July 1858, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace had presented their paper on the origin of species through natural selection. Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin's son and a distinguished botanist, had also taught Bose during his time in Cambridge).

  • His establishment of Bose Institute – the role played by Sister Nivedita and Josephine MacLeod, both disciples of Swami Vivekananda. The movie can highlight how Bose brought together science and art here by enshrining the work of Nandlal Bose in the building.

The movie can end with highlighting three things:

  • Bose insisting that the institute take no patents for its discoveries and inventions;

  • Bose institution discoveries saving lives – like through the work of Shambu Nath De with relation to cholera toxin;

  • and finally how the present-day science is validating Bose’s pioneering work on plant cognition.

Scientists like Daniel Chamovitz, Monica Gagliano, Prakash Tandon, Baluska Frantisek, and D.P. Sen Gupta held different views on plant cognition and awareness. However, they unanimously acknowledged the pioneering nature of Bose's work, recognizing that he was ahead of his time. Their views could be a part of the concluding montage.

The writer's own favourite dramatic moment in the film would be the way Bose's successful demonstration at Royal Institute was later opposed with vehemence by the scientific orthodoxy—the same group which later plagiarize his work—and his second successful demonstration at Linnaean Society.

Linnaean Society was where Darwin read the famous paper on evolution. According to Darwin, plants should possess cognitive abilities, which are evident in species like Mimosa pudica and Venus flytrap. He proposed the brain-root hypothesis, suggesting the presence of cognitive functions in plants.

Francis Darwin, who was one of Bose's teachers, witnessed Bose's groundbreaking demonstration that provided clear evidence for the physical basis of such cognitive abilities, which are more widespread in plants.

This connection to Darwin's ideas, along with Bose's personal spiritual transition from a monotheistic Brahmo to a Vedantic non-dualist, can be a significant underlying theme in the movie.

Mackenzie Brown's paper titled 'Jagadish Chandra Bose and Vedantic Science' could serve as a valuable resource in this regard.

That plants have cognitive abilities is as ground-breaking a discovery as any in the history of science. At a time when cinema is showcasing the story of the atomic bomb, one also wishes to one day see the story of the experiment which proved that even plants 'have feelings'.

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