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Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

| Ang Biography, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay | March 2, 2015

Sarat Chandra
 

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (Bengali: শরৎ চন্দ্র চট্টোপাধ্যায়; 15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938) was a Bengali novelist and short story writer of early 20th century.

Personal life

Sarat Chandra was born in Debanandapur, Hooghly, Bengal Presidency, British Raj. His family was occasionally supported by other family members and Chattopadhyay’s lack of financial stability would influence his writing in years to come. He started his education at “Pyari Pandit”s” pathshala and then he took admission at Hooghly Branch High School. Although he began as a fine arts student, Chattopadhyay left his studies due to his persistent state of poverty. He received his early education while residing at his maternal uncle’s house in Bhagalpur. He spent 20 years of his life in Bhagalpur and a significant portion of his novels were either written in Bhagalpur or based on his experience in Bhagalpur.

His work represented rural Bengali society and he often wrote against social superstitions and oppression. For a short period he was a sannyasi, a Hindu ascetic who abandons the material and social worlds. His first published story was “Mandir”.

After the death of his parents, Chattopadhyay left his college education midway and went to Burma in 1903. There he found employment with a Government Office as clerk. He returned to India, but before his departure he submitted a short story for a prize competition under his uncle’s name, Surendranath Ganguli. It won first prize in 1904.

Vishnu Prabhakar wrote a biography about Chattopadhyay. Prabhakar traveled for fourteen years to collect material.

He died in Kolkata of liver cancer in 1938.

House of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

After returning from Burma, Chattopadhyay stayed for 11 years in Baje Shibpur, Howrah. Then he made a house in the village of Samtabere. He spent the later years of his lifetime as a novelist in Samtabere and in another house in Kolkata. His house in Samtaber is often called by and shown as Sarat Chandra Kuthi in the map of Samtaber or Samta, in the Howrah district of West Bengal.
 The Rupnarayan River then used to flow right outside the window of Sarat Chandra’s ground floor study. Now, the river has changed its route and has moved far away. The two storied Burmese style house was also home to Sarat Chandra’s brother, Swami Vedananda, who was a disciple of Belur Math. His along with his brother Swami Vedananda’s samadhi can still be seen there. Swami Vedananda was a disciple in Belur Math. The trees like that of bamboo, galoncho and the guava trees planted by the renowned author are still tourist attractions.
Parts of the house-like the mud-walled kitchen-collapsed and the house was damaged in the 1978 floods, the Zilla Parishad undertook its repair spending INR77000. After it was declared as a Heritage or Historical Site by the Clause 2 of the West Bengal Heritage Commission Act 2001 (Act IX of 2001) Act IX of 2001 in 2009 the whole house was renovated and the belongings of Sarat Chandra like his furniture, walking stick, shoes etc. were polished and are restored in showcases. The house’s boundary has been extended until the Samadhis, surrounding them which earlier used to lie on the road.

Sarat Mela

The fair is held on the Panitras High School grounds some distance from Sarat Chandra’s house but if it could be shifted to the open space where the Rupnarayan River once flowed right in front of the house people could link the two more easily. The Government of West Bengal does not provide funds, only private and public donations allow the villagers to hold the fair. However, sometime the number of people it draws is reduced due to unpleasant weather conditions like rainfall.

Works

Sarat Chandra primarily wrote novels, novellas, and stories. He converted three of his works into plays. The following classification of his works is based on “Sarat Rachanabali” (collected works) website

Novels and Novellas

  • Arakhsanya, 1916
  • Bamuner Meye
  • Bipradas, 1935
  • Birajbou, (Mrs. Biraj) 1914
  • Baikunther Will
  • Bordidi, (The Elder Sister) 1907
  • Chandranath
  • Choritrohin, (Shameless) 1917
  • Datta, 1917–19
  • Dena Paona, (Debts and Demands) 1923
  • Devdas, 1917 (written in 1901)
  • Grihodaho, 1919
  • Naba Bidhan
  • Nishkriti
  • Palli Shomaj, 1916
  • Panditmashai
  • Parineeta, 1914
  • Pather Dabi or Path Ke Davedar, (Demand for a Pathway) 1926
  • Shesh Prasna, (The Final Question) 1931
  • Shesher Parichoy (Incomplete)
  • Shubhoda
  • Srikanta, (Four parts, 1917, 1918, 1927, 1933)

Stories

  • Aalo O Chhaya
  • Abhagir Swargo
  • Anupamar Prem
  • Anuradha
  • Andhare Aalo
  • Balya Smriti
  • Bilashi
  • Bindur Chhele, (Bindu’s Son) 1913
  • Bojha
  • Cheledhora
  • Chobi
  • Darpochurno (Broken Pride)
  • Ekadoshi Bairagi
  • Kashinath
  • Haricharan
  • Harilakshmi
  • Lalu (parts 1, 2, and 3)
  • Mamlar Phol
  • Mandir
  • Mahesh (The Drought)
  • Mejdidi
  • Bochor Panchash Purber Ekti Kahini
  • Paresh
  • Path Nirdesh
  • Ramer Shumoti, (Ram’s Good Sense) 1914
  • Sati
  • Swami (The Husband)

Plays

  • Bijoya
  • Rama
  • Shoroshi

Essays

  • Narir Mulya
  • Swadesh O Sahitya
  • Taruner Bidroho

Other Works

  • Dehati Samaj, 1920
  • Sharoda (published posthumously)

Films

His works have been made into some fifty films in many Indian languages, particularly his novel Devdas made into sixteen versions, from Bengali, Hindi to Telugu, all verson get huge response. Parineeta also been made twice, Majhli Didi (1967) by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Swami (1977) for which he was awarded Filmfare Award for Best Story. Another famous film Chhoti Bahu (1971) is based on his novel Bindur Chhele.His Novel ‘Datta’ was adapted into a Bengali film (1976) starring Suchitra Sen and Soumitra Chatterjee in the lead roles.

There was another movie based on his novel called Nishkriti, Apne Paraye (1980) by Basu Chatterjee, starring Amol Palekar. The Telugu film Thodi Kodallu (1957) is also based on this novel. Gulzar’s 1975 film, Khushboo is majorly inspired by his work entitled Pandit Mashay. The 1961 Telugu film Vagdanam by Acharya Atreya is loosely based on his novel Datta. Also the 2011 film Aalo Chhaya is based on his short story, Aalo O Chhaya.

Awards and degrees

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay is known as Oporajoy Kothashilpi in Bangla literature

  • Kuntolin puraskar (For Mandir)
  • D.Litt. (Given by University of Dhaka, now in Bangladesh)

Textbooks

  • Golpo Songroho (Collected Stories), the national text book of B.A. (pass and subsidiary) course of Bangladesh, published by University of Dhaka in 1979 (reprint in 1986).
  • Bangla Sahitya (Bengali Literature), the national text book of intermediate (college) level of Bangladesh published in 1996 by all educational boards.

Article References:
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarat_Chandra_Chattopadhyay

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