One of the most revered Indian writers of the 20th century, Munshi Premchand has greatly contributed in the field of writing. He was famous for his modern Hindustani literature and showcased the era of colonial India with his writings rooted in realism. His name is celebrated even today as a definer of iconic Hindi and Urdu fiction storytelling.
It will be Munshi Premchand’s 142nd birth anniversary on July 31 this year.
His real name was Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, but his pen name 'Premchand' transcended time and found him glory. He initially used the pen name of Nawab Rai but changed it when he was censured by the British government for the “seditious” content of his short story collection Soz-e-Vatan in 1909.
He had an illustrious career as a novel writer, story writer and dramatist, and has been referred to as the "Upanyas Samrat" or the "Emperor among Novelists" by the writing community. Premchand prolifically wrote over a dozen novels, around 300 short stories, several essays, letters and translations to Hindi.
On his 141st birth anniversary, here’s a guide to some of his popular novels.
1) Sevasadan (1918)
It was originally written in Urdu under the title Bazaar-e-Husn but was first published in Hindi from Calcutta as Seva Sadan in 1919. It was Premchand's first major novel. It is a tale of an unhappy housewife who becomes a courtesan and goes on a journey of reformation.
Karmabhoomi is set against the backdrop of Uttar Pradesh in the 1930s. It was a time of extreme exploitation of the illiterate and poor masses by the rich privileged upper class. His sympathy for the masses comes across in his writing.
3. Gaban (1931)
This novel tries to highlight the falling moral values among lower middle class Indian youth in the era of British India, and the extreme measures that a person can go to create the illusion of elitism.
4. Godaan (1936)
One of the most famous Hindi novels by Premchand, Godaan reflects themes of socio-economic deprivation and exploitation of the lower classes. It is a realistic depiction of rural India.
5. Nirmala (1928)
Premchand attacks the age old Indian exploitation of dowry through this novel. A novel which was way ahead of its time, it is about the suffering of a young girl married off to an elderly man. It gives a reflection of the unfair treatment pf women in society.