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On 21st August,2018 Google Doodle celebrates the 107th birthday of Ismat Chughtai, the ‘Grande Dame’ of Urdu Literature

Chughtai, along with other progressive writers like Saadat Hassan Manto, is fondly remembered for her depiction of the underlying emotional subtleties of the human struggle against social-cultural establishments

HER LIFE:

  • Born on August 21, 1911 in Badayun ( Uttar Pradesh ), Chughtai was the ninth of ten children.
  • She began writing at an early age, inspired by her elder brother, Mirza Azim Beg Chughtai, who was known for his humorous works.
  • The grande dame of Urdu fiction narrowly avoided an arranged marriage at the age of 15, and convinced her parents to let her pursue a bachelor’s degree at Isabella Thoburn College. 
  • She later went on to study teaching at the Aligarh Muslim University, becoming the first Indian-Muslim woman to obtain both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor’s in education degree. 
  • Chughtai was one of the most notable beacons of the Progressive Writer’s Association — an umbrella organisation of left-leaning writers with Marxist undercurrents which included writers like Manto and Faiz Ahmad ‘Faiz’.
  • She died in 1991 at the age of  76

HER WORKS:

  1. One of Chughtai’s most popular short story, Lihaaf (The Quilt) in 1942 , is considered to be representative work of her literary oeuvre and depicts the sensitivities of female homosexuality in the face of a social landscape which is hostile to the idea of same-sex relationship. Deepa Mehta’s 1996 film, Fire, is said to be a cinematic adaptation of Lihaaf. 
  2. Chughtai was often criticised for her graphic portrayals of relationships which were often deemed as ‘obscene’ and had to stand trial.  Also, her short stories like ‘Kafir’ and ‘Dheet’ were considered blasphemous and triggered outrage in conservative circles for the alleged insult to the Quran.
  3. She wrote for three Bombay Talkies productions that were directed by her husband Shaheed Latif – ‘Ziddi’ (1948), ‘Arzoo’ (1950) and ‘Sone Ki Chidiya’ (1958). She also wrote the dialogue for Shyam Benegal’s ‘Junoon’ in 1978, and even played a role
  4. Her other famous literary works include ‘Gainda’ and ‘Vocation‘ among others. 
  5.  Her dialogues were written in ‘begamati zuban’ – a form of Urdu spoken amongst women in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh – which was termed as uncouth
  6. Chughtai’s enduring legacy has revitalised Urdu and brought a new culture into existence.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS:

  1. She was awarded PAdma Shri in 1976
  2. Makhdoom Literary Award ( Andhra Pradesh Urdu Akademi Award) 1979
  3. Iqbal Samman (Rajasthan Urdu Akademi) in 1990
  4. Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1982

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