Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, alternatively spelt as Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938), was a Bengali novelist and short story writer. He is arguably the most popular novelist in the Bengali language. His notable works include Devdas, Srikanta, Choritrohin, Grihadaha, etc. Most of his works deal with the lifestyle, tragedy and struggle of the village people and the contemporary social practices that prevailed in Bengal. He remains the most popular, translated, adapted, and plagiarized Indian author of all time.
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
|Born||15 September 1876|
Debanandapur, Hooghly district, Bengal Presidency, India
(now in West Bengal, India)
|Died||16 January 1938 (aged 61)|
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, India
(now Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
|Pen name||Anila Devi|
|Period||19th century-20th century|
|Literary movement||Bengali renaissance|
His father Motilal Chattopadhyay was an idler and dreamer who held irregular jobs. He could not finish novels and stories that he had started writing, but passed on his imagination and love of literature to Sarat Chandra. His, wife Bhuvanmohini, and their five children lived for many years in his father-in-law Kedarnath Gangopadhyay's house in Bhagalpur, Bihar.
Sarat Chandra was a daring, adventure-loving boy. Most of his schooling was in informal village schools called pathshalas. He was a good student and got a double promotion that enabled him to skip a grade. He passed his Entrance Examination (public examination at the end of Class X) but could not take his F.A. (First Arts) examination or attend college due to lack of funds.
Sarat Chandra started writing in his early teens. After finishing his formal studies, he spent much of his time interacting with friends, acting in plays, and in playing sports and games. Several of his famous novels and stories were written during this period.
In 1893, Sarat Chandra moved to Burma. Part of his novel, Srikanto, is based on his experiences in Burma. He got a temporary job in Burma Railway's audit office and later worked for many years in Burma's public works accounts office. While living in Rangoon, he married his first wife Shanti. He was deeply hurt when his wife and one-year-old son died from plague. He married his second wife Mokshada (later renamed Hironmoyee) also in Rangoon and taught her to read and write. She outlived him by 23 years.
In 1916, Sarat Chandra moved backed to India and settled in Howrah, near Kolkata. It is during this time that he improved his Sanskrit skills from "Kabyasri" Kishorimohan Mukherjee. He devoted himself to writing and established himself as one of India's major novelists and story writers. He was involved in India's freedom struggle and served as the president of Howrah district branch of Indian National Congress (1921–1936). University of Calcutta awarded him the prestigious Jagattarini medal. University of Dhaka awarded him an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.). On 2 Magh 1344 or 16 January 1938 he died, from cancer of the liver.
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 life as a novelist in Samtabere and in another house in Kolkata. His house in Samtabere is often called as Sarat Chandra Kuthi in the map of Samtabere or Samta, in the Howrah district of West Bengal.
The two storied Burmese style house was also home to Sarat Chandra's brother, Swami Vedananda, who was a disciple of Belur Math. His and his brother's samadhi can still be seen there. The trees like bamboo, galoncho and the guava trees planted by the renowned author are still tourist attractions.
The phenomenal popularity of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay has been attested by some of the most prominent writers as well as literary critics across India in their writings. Most of the authors in Assam and Odisha, at least before the Independence, read him admiringly in original Bengali; rest of India read him in translations in varying quality. Publishers were never tired of reprinting his works; he remains the most translated, the most adapted and the most plagiarized author. His novels also reached a number of people through the medium of film and he is still an important force in Indian cinema. O. N. V. Kurup writes "...Sarat Chandra's name is cherished as dearly as the names of eminent Malayalam novelists. His name has been a household word". Dr Mirajkar informs "the translations of Sarat Chandra created a stir amongst the readers and writers all over Maharashtra. He has become a known literary personality in Maharashtra in the rank of any popular Marathi writers including H. N. Apte, V. S. Khandekar, N. S. Phadke and G. T. Madkholkar". Jainendra Kumar, who considers that his contribution towards the creation and preservation of cultural India is second, perhaps, only to that of Gandhi, asks a rhetorical question summing up Sarat Chandra's position and presumably the role of translation and inter-literary relationship: "Sarat Chandra was a writer in Bengali; but where is that Indian language in which he did not become the most popular when he reached it?"
His works have been made into around fifty films in many Indian languages. Particularly, his novel Devdas has been made into sixteen versions, from Bengali, Hindi to Telugu. Parineeta has also been made twice. In 1957 Bardidi was made by director Ajoy Kar. Rajlakshmi O Srikanta and Indranath Srikanta O Annadadidi by Haridas Bhattacharya in 1958 and 1959 respectively, Majhli Didi (1967) by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Swami (1977), for which he was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Story, are other adaptations. Another famous film Chhoti Bahu (1971) is based on his novel Bindur Chhele. His Novel 'Datta' was adapted into a Bengali film as Datta (film) in 1976 starring Suchitra Sen and Soumitra Chatterjee in the lead roles. The film Sabyasachi (film) was released in 1977 based on his work Pather Dabi. The other movies based on his novel were Nishkriti, and 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 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.
Sarat Chandra wrote novels, novellas, and stories. He came to maturity at a time when the national movement was gaining momentum together with an awakening of social consciousness. His novel 'Pather Dabi' played an important role in the National Movement. Much of his writing bears the mark of the resultant turbulence of society. Sensitive and daring, his novels captivated the hearts and minds of innumerable readers both in Bengal and in the rest of India. His best known novels include Palli Samaj (1916), Charitrahin (1917), Devdas (1917), Nishkriti (1917), Datta (1918), Srikanta, Griha Daha (1920), Sesh Prashna (1929) and Sesher Parichay published posthumously (1939).
He wrote some essays including Narir Itihas (The History of Women) and Narir Mulya (The Value of Women). Narir Itihas, which was lost in a house fire, contained a history of women on the lines of Spencer's Descriptive Sociology. While the second, Narir Mulya gives a theory of women's rights in the context of Mill's and Spencer's arguments.
The following classification of his works is based on "Sarat Rachanabali" (collected works) website.
Novels and novellas
Sarat Chandra converted three of his works into plays.
Apne Paraye (English: Relatives and Others) is a 1980 Indian Bollywood film directed by Basu Chatterjee and produced by Mushir Alam. It stars Amol Palekar and Shabana Azmi in pivotal roles. It is based on the Bengali novel, Nishkriti by Sarat Chandra ChattopadhyayAshalata, who made her Hindi film debut with the film, was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.Bardidi
Bardidi is a Bengali drama film directed by Ajoy Kar based on a same name novel of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. This film was released in 1957 under the banner of Sarat Banichitra. In 1939 a film was released in the same name based on the same plot by Amar Mullick.Biraj Bahu
Biraj Bahu is a 1954 Hindi film produced by Hiten Choudhury and directed by Bimal Roy, and based on a Bengali novel by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay. The film stars Kamini Kaushal, Abhi Bhattacharya and Pran and has music by Salil Choudhury. The film won the All India Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film.Datta (film)
Datta is a Bengali romantic drama film directed by Ajoy Kar based on the novel with the same name written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. This film was released in 1976 under the banner of Chitralipi Films. The music director of the movie was Hemanta Mukherjee.Dena Paona
Dena Paona (Bengali: দেনা পাওনা) is a 1931 Bengali film directed by Premankur Atorthy, starring Amar Mullick, Durga Das Bannerjee, Jahar Ganguly, Nibhanani Devi and Bhanu Bandyopadhyay. Based on a novel by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay and produced by New Theatres, it is credited as the one of first Bengali talkies, and along with Alam Ara, was one of the first sound films produced in India. The film explored the ills of the dowry system and touched on the problems of female oppression in 19th century Bengal.Indranath Srikanta O Annadadidi
Indranath Srikanta O Annadadidi is a Bengali drama film directed by Haridas Bhattacharya and produced by Kanan Devi based on a part of the famous novel Srikanta of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. This film was released on 3 October 1959 under the banner of Sreemati Pictures.Kaanal Neer
Kaanal Neer (lit. Mirage) is a 1961 Indian Tamil-language drama film written and directed by P. S. Ramakrishna Rao. The film stars A. Nageswara Rao and P. Bhanumathi in the lead. An adaptation of the novel Badi Didi by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, it was simultaneously filmed in Telugu as Batasari.Khushboo (1975 film)
Khushboo (English: Aroma, Hindi: खुशबू, Urdu: خوشبو) is a 1975 Hindi drama film, produced by Prasan Kapoor under the Tirupati Pictures banner, presented by Jeetendra and directed by Gulzar. It stars Jeetendra, Hema Malini and music composed by R. D. Burman. The film is based on the Bengali novel Panditmashai, by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, which was earlier filmed in Bengali in 1951 by Naresh Mitra. It was prolific year for Gulzar, with two more releases in the same year, Mausam and Aandhi. The haunting song "O Majhi Re" sung by Kishore Kumar, was famous both for lyrics and melody. A couple of other songs like "Do Naino Mein Aansoo Bhare Hain" and "Bechara Dil Kya Kare" were also very popular. It was praised as a beautiful film with good acting by Sharmila Tagore, Hema Malini, Asrani and Jeetendra.Majhli Didi
Majhli Didi is a 1967 Bollywood film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, based on the Bengali language story, Mejdidi (Middle Sister) by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, which was earlier filmed in Bengali in 1950 as Mejdidi. Majhli Didi stars Meena Kumari and Dharmendra.Though the film didn't perform well at the Indian box office, it remains one of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's highly rated films. At the 16th Filmfare Awards, it won Best Screenplay Awards for Nabendu Ghosh and Best Art Direction, B&W for Ajit Banerjee. It was India's entry to the 41st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.Mana Desam
Mana Desam (English:Our Country) is a 1949 Telugu Patriotic film, produced by Raja Saheb of Mirzapur under the Sobhanachala Pictures banner, presented by Krishnaveni and directed by L. V. Prasad. It stars Chittor V. Nagaiah, C. H. Narayana Rao and C. Krishnaveni in the lead roles, with music composed by Ghantasala. The film is the debut of veteran actor N. T. Rama Rao in the film industry. The film is based on the Bengali novel Vipradas by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, and is set against the backdrop of the Indian freedom struggle.Parineeta (1942 film)
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's 1914 novel Parineeta (Bengali: পরিণীতা Porinita) was adapted into a 1942 Bengali film by Pashupati Chatterjee. The English title for the film is The Fiancée.Parineeta (1969 film)
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's 1914 novel Parineeta (Bengali: পরিণীতা Porinita) was adapted into a 1969 film by Ajoy Kar. The English title for the film is The Fiancee.Rajlakshmi O Srikanta
Rajlakshmi O Srikanta is a Bengali drama film directed by Haridas Bhattacharya and produced by Kanan Devi based on the novel Srikanta of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. This film was released in 1958 under the banner of Srimati Pictures. Music direction of the film was done by Jnan Prakash GhoshSabyasachi (film)
Sabyasachi is a Bengali patriotic drama film directed by Pijush Bose and produced by Asim Sarkar based on the novel Pather Dabi written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. This film was released on 21 January 1977 under the banner of Usha Films.Samta, India
Samta (pronounced [ʃaːmtaː]) is a village and a gram panchayat in the Howrah district of the Indian state of West Bengal, on the banks of the Rupnarayan River.Sarat Chandra Kuthi
Sarat Chandra Kuthi was the house of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and is located in Samtaber (Samta), Howrah in the Indian state of West Bengal. Sarat Chandra was born into poverty in Debanandapur, Hooghly, West Bengal in India but he spent the early years of his lifetime as a novelist in this house. His house in Samta is known as "Sarat Chandra Kuthi" in the locality.Swami (1977 film)
Swami is a 1977 Hindi Indian romance drama film directed by Basu Chatterjee and produced by Jaya Chakravarty. The film stars Shabana Azmi, Vikram, Girish Karnad and Utpal Dutt. Hema Malini and Dharmendra made guest appearances together in the film. The film's music is by Rajesh Roshan. The film was shot in location in Dahisar and the Dahisar River Banks. The movie is based on the 1949 Bengali movie Swami.Thodi Kodallu
Thodi Kodallu (English: Co-Sisters) is a 1957 Telugu drama film produced by D. Madhusudhana Rao under Annapurna Pictures and directed by Adurthi Subba Rao. It stars Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Savitri in the lead roles, and music composed by Master Venu. The film is based on Sharat Chandra Chatterjee's Bengali novel Nishkruti, which was simultaneously remade as the Tamil movie Engal Veettu Mahalakshmi (1957); both movies were made simultaneously by the same banner and director, and some of the scenes and artists are the same in both versions. The film won the Certificate of merit for Best Feature Film in Telugu.Vagdanam
Vagdanam (English: Promise; Telugu: వాగ్దానం) is a 1961 Telugu, drama film, produced by K. Satyanarayana and D. Srirama Murthy under the Kavita Chitra banner and directed by famous writer Acharya Atreya. It stars Akkineni Nageshwara Rao, Krishna Kumari in the lead roles and music composed by Pendyala Nageshwara Rao. The film is based on the novel Datta, written by Saratchandra Chatterjee. The film was recorded as a flop at the box office.