Munshi Premchand: An Acclaimed Hindi Fiction Writer and his many Achievements

10 unknown facts about literary genius Munshi Premchand

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Munshi Premchand's Statue in Varanasi
Munshi Premchand's Statue in Varanasi. Wikimedia
  • Premchand’s work was based on social evils of society like exploitation, greed, submission, poverty and caste system among others.
  • Premchand stressed on the fact that a writer’s natural gifts can be enhanced with education and curiosity about the world around him.
  • His noteworthy works are Godan, Seva Sadan, Nirmala, Gaban, Karmabhoomi, and Pratigya.

August 3, 2017: Premchand, a Realist Hindi-Urdu writer once said, “I write for only one sake: To present a human truth, or to show a new angle of looking at common things.” His work was based on social evils of society like exploitation, greed, submission, poverty and caste system among others.  He was born with the name Dhanpat Rai on 31 July 1880 in Lamhi, a village near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

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His stories had a moralistic overtone to it and might not appeal to the modern readers but teach about goodness and to follow the right path.  Literature for him was simply ‘the criticism of life’. He was of the belief that language is a means and not an end, and a writer is born, not made.

Premchand stressed on the fact that a writer’s natural gifts can be enhanced with education and curiosity about the world around him. He said, “We will have to raise the standard of our literature so that it can serve the society more usefully… our literature will discuss and assess every aspect of life and we will no longer be satisfied with eating the leftovers of other languages and pieces of literature. We will ourselves increase the capital of our literature.”

His noteworthy works include Godan, Seva Sadan, Nirmala, Gaban, Karmabhoomi and Pratigya among others. Here are some unknown facts about the great author:

  • Premchand began writing under the pen name Nawab Rai (his uncle nicknamed him Nawab) and later shifted to the name Premchand. He was later known as Munshi Premchand, the prefix Munshi was given as the honorary title to him by his readers.
  • He got married at a very young age of 15 to Shivarani Devi when he was a class 9 student.
  • Premchand started his career as a sales boy in a book shop so that he could read more and more books. Then he became a home tutor and after that, he joined government school as an assistant teacher, on a monthly salary of 20 rupees.
  • He resigned from the school, became a staunch supporter of Mahatma Gandhi and started a press in Varanasi known as Saraswati Press.
  • His works include 14 novels, 300 short stories, several essays and translated a number of foreign literary works into Hindi.
  • His first collection of short stories, Soz-e Watan (The Dirge of the Nation), written in 1908 was deemed controversial, got banned by the imperial government and on top of it, all the copies of the book were burnt. 
  • Premchand was elected as the first president of the All-India Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) and also wrote a non-fiction piece for them. His speech, called Sahitya ka Uddeshya (The Aim of Literature), was heard by an attentive audience comprising both young and established writers from across the country. It also talked about what concerns or should concern, all writers irrespective of language. 
  • There have been many movies made inspired by his works like Heera Moti -based on a short story Do Bailon ki Kahani, Oka Ori Kath (South Indian film)- based on Kafan and  Shatranj ke Khiladi by Satyajit Ray is based on the novel of the same name. His other novels like Godan and Gaban have been turned into movies too.

  • Gulzar turned Munshi Premchand’s Godan into a 26-episode serial for Doordarshan called Tehreer. 
  • Premchand died from a gastric ulcer on 8 October 1936. At that time he was composing the novel Mangalasutra, but could not complete it.  His one son, Amit Rai, became a noted Hindi writer, and the other, Sripath Rai, a talented painter.

–by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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