Total Pageviews

Monday, 17 September 2012

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay : Master Storyteller and most Popular Bengali novelist .

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay  

Picture and Signature of  Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
(15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938) is one of the most popular Bengali novelists and short story writers of early 20th century.

He was the master storyteller  who created many unique and beautiful characters among them two most famous Characters were 1) Srikanta (Novel Srikanta), 2) Sabyasanchi (Novel Pather Dabi)  3) Devdas (Novel Devdas) 4)  Lalu 5) Ramesh
(Palli Samaj: The Homecoming).

Cover of Bengali Book "Srikanta"

Srikanta, the narrator, is an aimless drifter, a passive spectator who cannot survive without the support of an individual stronger than himself. As a child, he idealizes the chaste Annada Didi—the epitome of selfless devotion to a worthless husband... As a young man he travels to Burma looking for new experiences and meets the rebellious Abhaya—who rejects her violent, bigamous husband to live openly with her lover—and learns to question the hypocritical social norms that bind a woman down but let a man off. He experiments with becoming a sanyasi, is bewitched for a while by the Vaishnavi, Kamal Lata, and wanders on till his directionless existence finally finds a focus—when he resigns himself to life with the notorious but stunning Pyari Baiji, breaking free of the social values he grew up with.

Cover of Translated Book of Srikanta


Through his dynamic and arresting characters, Saratchandra brings alive nineteenth-century Bengal, a prejudice-ridden society that needed to be radically changed. Srikanta set the precedent for socially conscious writing in modern Indian literature. Every Part of Srikanta`s Life-long Journey reflected all the inner philosophy of Life. 

Cover Page of Translated Pather Dabi


Pather Dabi caused an enormous furore following its serialisation in a Bengali monthly - Bangabani. The story of Sabyasachi, the charismatic leader of the military organisation, Pather Dabi, and the powerful woman characters around him - their inter-relationship, agony and ecstasy stirred public imagination.

Cover of Bengali Devdas Book


is a Bengali Romance novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Essentially, it is a retelling of the Krishna, Radha, and Meera myths, the relationships between its three protagonists - Devdas, Parvati, and Chandramukhi - paralleling the Hindu deities'.

Devdas is a young man from a wealthy Bengali Brahmin family in India in the early 1900s. Paro (Parvati) is a young woman from a middle class Bengali family belonging to the “merchant” caste. The two families lived in a village in Bengal, and Devdas and Paro were childhood friends.

Devdas goes away for thirteen years to live and study in a boarding school in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata). When, after finishing school, he returns to his village, Paro looks forward to their childhood love blossoming into their lifelong journey together in marriage. Of course, according to the prevailing social custom, Paro's parents would have to approach Devdas' parents and propose marriage of Paro to Devdas as Paro longed for.

When Paro's mother makes the proposal to Devdas' mother, the latter insults her, plainly saying that the marriage is not possible in view of her own higher caste and financial status. To demonstrate her own social status, Paro's mother then finds an even richer husband for Paro.

When Paro learns of her planned marriage, she stealthily meets Devdas at night, desperately believing that Devdas will quickly accept her hand in marriage. Devdas meekly seeks his parents' permission to marry Paro, but Devdas' father agrees with his wife.

In a weak-minded state, Devdas then flees to Calcutta, and from there, he writes a letter to Paro, saying that they were only friends. Within days, however, he realizes that he should have been bolder. He goes back to his village and tells Paro that he is ready to do anything needed to save their love.

By now, Paro's marriage plans are in an advanced stage, and she declines going back to Devdas and chides him for his cowardice and vacillation. She makes, however, one request to Devdas that he would return to her before he dies. Devdas vows to do so.

Devdas goes back to Calcutta and Paro is married off to the betrothed widower with children, who is still in love with his previous wife and is therefore not interested in an amatory relationship with Paro.

In Calcutta, Devdas' carousing friend, Chunnilal, introduces him to a courtesan named Chandramukhi. Devdas takes to heavy drinking at Chandramukhi's place, but the courtesan falls in love with him, and looks after him. His health deteriorates because of a combination of excessive drinking and despair of life—a drawn-out form of suicide. Within him, he frequently compares Paro and Chandramukhi, remaining ambivalent as to whom he really loves.

Sensing his fast-approaching death, Devdas returns to meet Paro to fulfill his vow. He dies at her doorstep on a dark, cold night. On hearing of the death of Devdas, Paro runs towards the door, but her family members prevent her from stepping out of the door.

Cartoon Sketch of Lalu


Sarat Chandra’s most famous protagonist Srikanta was drawn from his memory. Similarly, he has many characters strewn all over his oeuvre that are autobiographical; in other words, they owe their existence partly to real life and partly to the author’s powers of recollection. He wrote three stories titled ‘Lalu’. Of these, two are narrated here. These two tales are about two boys with the same name. Captured at different points in their lives, they could even be the same person, barring a few details here and there that indicate the possibility of it being otherwise. Be that as it may, the stories are amusing tales of wayward boys, as they are often wont to be. Eliciting loud guffaws, giggles and sometimes snickers, these two short tales are as distinctly typical of Sarat Chandra as are the melodramatic family dramas.

Cover of Translated Palli Samaj


Palli Samaj: The Homecoming(Ramesh)
The novel deals with the efforts of Ramesh, a young Roorkee-trained engineer, to bring some change in the caste-ridden village and to elevate the villagers to a better level of existence. It deals in depth with the corruption that infects the village, and Ramesh's efforts to remove it.

Sarat Chandra was born into poverty in Debanandapur, Hooghly, India. His family was occasionally supported by other family members and Sarat Chandra'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". He was particularly sensitive to the cause of women.


After the death of his parents Sarat Chandra left his college education midway and went to Burma in 1903. There he found employment with a Government Office as clerk. He did not remain at his job in Burma for long and decided to return to his homeland 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.

Sarat Chandra's biography is available in Hindi, written by a well-known author, Vishnu Prabhakar. Prabhakar traveled for fourteen years continuously to collect material for this book.

Though he was always known to be an intrepid champion of the marginalised when it comes to novels, personally he was always a shy and private person. There was an occasion when his name was already announced and he was supposed to meet his readers but he left and the curtain was raised on an empty stage.

He died in Kolkata of liver cancer in 1938.

Writing His Works



First Page of Novel Srikanta

Srikanta (Published in Four Part 1917-1933)
Bordidi (1907)
Dutta (1917)
Biraj Bou (Mrs. Biraj) 1914
Devdas 1917 (written in 1901)
Bamuner Meye (Daughter of Brahmin)
Dena Paona (Debts and Demands) 1923
Parineeta (1914)
Balya-Smriti (Memory of Childhood)
Agamikal (Tomorrow) (Unpublished)
Roma (Play)
Ramer Shumoti, (Ram Returning to Sanity)
Alo o Chaya (Light and Shadow)
Lalu ( Story of Childhood)
Essays: Rabindranath, Kabi Atulprosad,  Birthday Speech
Collection of Letters
Grihodaho (1919)
Bindur Chele (Son of Bindu) 1913
Anupomer Prem

Reading His works


Unpublished Works: Samaj Dharmer Mullya (Value of Religion of Society), Narir Lekha (Writing of a Woman)
Adhare Alo
Essays: Future of Bengali Literature , Literature and Principle
Ekadashi Bairagi
Narir Mullya
Unpublished Works :Khuder Gaurav, Satya and Mithya, Rashchakra, Sadhabar Ekadashi.
Baikunther Uil
Mamlar Phal
Story of Childhood : Cheledhara, Lallu, Kolkatar Natunda

Sitting on His Writing Chair

Essays: Smiritikatha, Mahatmaji, Deshbandhuke Avinandan,Juva-Sangha,Swaraj Sadhaney Nari (Women in Freedom Struggle), Guru-Shisya Sambad (News of Teacher and Pupil) , Bharatiya Uchha Sangeet (Classical Music of India)

Great Writer on his Relaxed Mood

Charitrahin (Characterless) 1917
Abhagir Swarga (Heaven of unfortunate)
Pather Dabi (Demand for a Pathway) 1926
Memory of Deoghar
Taruner Bidroha (Revolution of Young)


Poster of Devdas Movie

His works have been made into some fifty films in many Indian languages, particularly his novel Devdas made into eight versions, from Bengali, Hindi to Telugu, 

Poster of Movie Parineeta

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.

Movie based on his novel called Nishkriti, Apne Paraye (1980) by Basu Chatterjee, starring Amol Palekar

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. 

Aalo Chhaya is based on his short story, Aalo O Chhaya.

Also the 2011 film Aalo Chhaya is based on his short story, Aalo O Chhaya.

Awards of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Writer (Second from Left) on the Occasion of  honorary D.litt by the University of Dhaka in the year 1936.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay was given several awards for his contributions to Bengali literature. The first award won by him was Kuntalin Puraskar (1903). 

After having honorary D.litt by the University of Dhaka in the year 1936.

He was also given Jagattarini Gold Medal by Calcutta University in the year 1923 and was also given honorary D.litt by the University of Dhaka in the year 1936.

No comments:

Post a Comment