Friday, March 6, 2009

Premchand - The Forgotten Master of Hindi Literature !

The Jeffrey Archers, Sidney Sheldons and Dan Browns of the world might have successfully driven the lesser known masters of the Indian prose into oblivion, but a peek into some of those literary masterieces is enough to make us realise what we are missing!

I've recently completed reading Munshi Premchand's exemplary creation - Gaban (embezzlement). For those who haven't had the privilege of being acquainted with the works of the Master of Hindi / Urdu prose, this novel is but a peek into his sheer brilliance. The story revolves around Ramanath and his wife Jaalpa. Rama is the archetypical Indian husband who is too proud to admit his weaknesses to his wife. Jaalpa is the innocent but demanding wife whose biggest incentive to marry was to be loaded with exotic jewellery by her husband. The story unfolds into a saga of rising expectations and blundering lies, leading Rama to embezzle government money and then escape for the fear of being caught. Premchand's proficiency as a writer is exhibited as he traces the growth of each of the characters, their ambitions, motivations and priorities in life. Never has another author done such justice in identifying and illustrating the psyche of the rural Indian society and its members.

But do not be tricked into believing that Premchand's stories are "outdated" and "irrelevant". Even after almost 70 years of the passing of the genius, his stories and novels remain timeless and relevant. His understanding of human behaviour and the foundations of Indian society, as depicted in his short stories and novels, are assets which we must make use of and preserve.

It's nothing less than disturbing to see that the richness, depth and the wide latitude of emotions captured by Premchand has been replaced by superfluous and commercially-oriented Hindi literature available on stands today. Step into a Landmark or a Crossword and amongst the vast rows of well arranged and indexed Paul Coelho and Arvind Adiga novels, you'll find an isolated rack of regional literature. It won't be indexed and the books will be piled up unceremoniously on each other. Last when I saw, some great masterpieces by Saratchandra were buried under a pile of "Surakshit Sex Kaise Karein" !!

We preserve national treasures and monuments (or at least we try..) - this isn't different! How we do it, is a question that's for us to answer...


Gagan said...

So this is the first time you didn't force your blog on me... :P
1)This almost made me feel shameful !
2) Simply very well written
3) Convinced enough to grab a copy myself.
Happy reading :)

And write more ! Its a pleasure to read ! :)

gargeyi said...

Completely agree with gagan! Very well written blog and I am definitely going to pick a copy of the book for myself :)

Aham Brahmasmi... said...

Well I am waiting for you to blog on Theatrical leaning of cinema from movies like Dev D, Gulaal... the strong impactful compositions of terse "spoken" hindi!

mouna said...

came here somehow! i agree with u on this. we've got amazing literature that nobody knows about. sad.

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