Born as Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, Munshi Premchand is considered as one of the most celebrated Indian writers. He has authored several short stories, essays and was often known as “Upanyas Samrat” (Emperor among Novelists) among his colleagues. Born on July 31, 1880, Premchand’s writing, in many ways, introduced realism in Hindi literature and held a mirror to the prevalent socio-economic times.
On his birth anniversary, here are some of his most celebrated works.
Much like other Premchand novels, Godan (The Gift of a Cow) highlights the plights of the working class, primarily the deplorable working conditions of the villagers during the British era. In 1963, the novel was adapted into a film starring Rajkumar, Mehmood and Shashikala.
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Shatranj ke Khiladi
This 1924 short story traces the life of the last independent ruler, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, and ends with the British taking over the Nawab’s kingdom of Awadh in 1856. Satyajit Ray adapted it into a film in 1977.
This 1931 novel presents a compelling portrait of the lower middle class, their failing moral values and their aspirations to belong among the rich and the elite, spiralling into a complete downfall in the process.
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Translated as The Vow, in this novel, Premchand focuses on the issue of widow remarriage. It is not only an engaging read but also an important text to understand the societal politics of that time.