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A Tribute To Iconic Hindi Author Munshi Premchand On His 138th Birth Anniversary

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| July 31 , 2018 , 11:39 IST

Munshi Premchand was born on July 31, was an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindi-Urdu literature. He began writing under the pen name "Nawab Rai" but switched to Premchand, Munshi being an honorary prefix. A novel writer and dramatist, he has been referred to as the Upanyas Samrat by writers.

His works include more than dozen novels, around 250 short stories, several essays and translations of a number of foreign literary works into Hindi in a lifespan of just 56 years.

Premchand was known to address various social issues of society in the hundreds of novels and plays that he penned down throughout his life. His work captures the imagination of people till date and his signature working-class characters remain evergreen.

Through his stories, Premchand took his readers through the social upheavals of 20th century India. His characters were usually strong and resilient. His women characters were bold, strong and with a mind of their own. But at the same time, Premchand had an ideal woman in his mind, a woman who is docile, obedient and chaste. He was quite critical of the urban and Westernised career woman. He was equally judgemental of men, portraying many as irresponsible, selfish and egoistic.

The emperor of novels was a progressive thinker. He chaired the very first meeting of the Progressive Writers Association in India in 1935, a movement that was to deeply influence Hindi cinema.

In his speech, he said, "Our literary taste is undergoing rapid transformation. It is coming to grips with realities of life, it interests itself with society or man as a social unit. It is not satisfied now with writing to satisfy only our sense of wonder, it concerns itself with the problems of our life and such themes as have a social value. The literature which does not arouse in us a critical spirit or satisfies our spiritual needs, which is not 'force-giving' and dynamic, which does not awaken our sense of beauty, which does not make us face the grim realities of life in a spirit of determination, has no use for us today. It cannot even be termed literature."

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This was a statement of immense clarity and power that went on to influence poets and writers like Prithviraj Kapoor, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Kaifi Azmi, Bhisham Sahni among others. Each of these writers as individuals brought to Hindi cinema his own vision of progressiveness and courageously pointed out the flaws in Indian society.

When the newfangled art was looked down upon, the writer arrived in the city in 1934 in Bombay to try his luck to write for films. His first film was Mazdoor, which was on the life and struggles of unionized workers. He also wrote the story of films Heera Moti, Godaan, Shatranj Ke Khilari and Sadgati.

However, his influence did not die out. Later filmmakers from Hrishikesh Mukherjee to Satyajit Ray turned to him for inspiration.