6 Best Hindi Literary Creations of "The Upanyas Samrat", Munshi Premchand
Munshi Premchand is the Leo Tolstoy of Hindi Literature. Like Tolstoy, he penned down common man's struggle all through his life.
Although known as "The Upanyas Samrat" or "The King of Novels", Premchand wrote relentlessly in both Hindi and Urdu and produced more than three hundred stories, fourteen cult novels and numerous essays and translation work. This extraordinary author was born as 'Dhanpat Rai Srivastava' in a village near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in 1880 but he took pen names like 'Premchand' and 'Nawab Rai' while writing. Being a social activist in his real life, Premchand's creations offered a critical analysis of the society and introduced social realism in Hindi literature sphere.
Here's a list of Premchand's best literary works which all literature lovers must-read to understand the plight of common people of the country.
Published in 1936, Godan is regarded as the best creation of Premchand, depicting the story of farmers in India. It being the last novel from his pen, focuses on the hierarchical cultures of rural 'Bharat', exploitation of females, casteism and other issues as well. The story revolves around the impoverished condition of the peasantry in British India and becomes a masterpiece because of the author's craft of handling different protagonists within a single story as well as reflecting the harsh reality and false optimism. 'Hori' and 'Dhania' become the eternal symbols of class struggle in India. Godan has been translated into English with the title of 'The Gift of The Cow' and is a pathbreaking Hindi literature. Later the story has been adapted for television series and film also.
Nirmala (1928) is a novel with the theme of a child-bride who gets married to a person, almost twice of her age and who has a son, only one year younger than the bride herself. It showcases the futility and curse of the dowry system in Indian society. Like every other work of Premchand, the characters have their own flaws but realistic to the core. Nirmala is a deeply insightful work of Premchand where the protagonist has to face countless issues after marriage and through these, the author wants to attack the evilness of dowry.
This particular novel (1916) is one of its kind and essentially a must-read for intellectual minds as it is a testament to the Indian society. A courageous and unabashed account of the misery of women narrated through Suman, the protagonist. The backdrop is set in Varanasi where Suman, has an unhappy married life and gets a treatment like a prostitute. Later she becomes a courtesan and decides to transform the lives of other courtesans. Sevasadan unmasks the hypocrisy of the so-called reputed society, rips off the curtain and exposes the double faces. It speaks boldly on marriages, sexuality as well as women's treatment. Even it shows the reformists' derogatory attitude towards these women as they want to eliminate prostitution without realizing the real issue that led these ladies into such a profession. Such work is bound to be criticized by people who want to keep their mouth shut on sensitive issues. But it is undoubtedly another addition to the path-breaking Hindi literature for its clarity, sharpness, and relevance till today.
Karmabhoomi (1932) is an ode to the Gandhian principles of peace and nonviolence during the time of Civil Disobedience movement. This novel talks about the oppression of British colonial administration and utilizes metaphors to ask questions on morality and principles. Amarkant, the protagonist is an honest and idealistic person who lives a life of a nomad after getting the refusal from his father on the topic of getting married to his lover, Sakina, a Muslim girl. Amarkant, later on, roams here and there and reaches a village of untouchables (Harijan according to Gandhiji). He becomes a parent-angel for the villagers as he teaches the kids and helps poor villagers to get rid of the land tax. Karmabhoomi is a defining work of Premchand where he requests the reader to get a taste of real issues in rural areas of the country and understands to distinguish between the actual and superfluous aspects of religion.
Shatranj Ke Khiladi
The Chess Players or Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1924) is a magnum opus of Premchand's literary creations and is different from his other notable works. It is based in Awadh when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was the ruler. Two aristocrats, Mirza Sajjad Ali and Mir Roshan Ali are the main characters and both of them have a hobby of playing chess all through their days. They are so engrossed in the game that they do not pay attention to their families and the societies. They keep on playing the chess when Britishers depose the Nawab of Awadh. The story has a tragic end when these two chess-addicted fellows kill each other over a petty conflict in a game. The satirical, as well as the hilarious style of writing, makes this particular book worth to read. Iconic filmmaker Satyajit Ray has made a film on this story which has received critical acclamation. Sanjeev Kumar and Saeed Jaffrey played the roles of two aristocrats whereas Amjad Khan, the 'Gabbar Singh' of Indian cinema played the character of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.
Gaban was written in 1931 but it is relevant and one of the famous creatios of Premchand, in which, lust, craving, human greed and expectation to have a luxury life is portrayed flawlessly. Ramnath is a kind person but with weak morals. He practices corruption to fulfill his wife, Jalpa's insatiable greed of acquiring jewelry and lavish lifestyle. Ultimately he is trapped in the economic hardships as well as embarrassing situations and decides to run away from problems. In the end, his wife manages to get him back and resolve all the issues. This classic story narrates a deep-rooted conflict in the socioeconomic situation of British-India.
Besides these cult stories, 'Kafan', 'Bade Ghar Ki Beti', 'Idgah', 'Prema', 'Rangbhoomi', 'Namak Ka Daroga' are some of the most famous works of Premchand.
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