One of India’s most celebrated Hindustani writers, Dhanpat Rai Srivastava better known by his pen name Munshi Premchand is being remembered today on his 141st birth anniversary. Born on the 31st of July in 1880 in Lamhi village near Varanasi, he is regarded as one of the foremost Hindi writers of the early twentieth century. Some of his most famous and classic works include his novels like Godaan, Karmabhoomi, Gaban, Mansarovar, Idgah and many more.
Beginning to write under the name “Nawab Rai” and later switching to “Premchand” with Munshi being an honorary prefix he published his first collection of five short stories in 1907 in a book called Soz-e Watan.
He started early education at the age of 7 in a madrasa in the Lalpur village where he learned Urdu and Persian languages. He later enrolled in a missionarGorakhpur where he learned to read and write English.
Later in 1900 aged 20, he got a government job as an assistant teacher at the Government District School, Bahraich with a monthly salary of 20 rupees.
He worked there for 21 years and got first got promoted to Assistant Master and later to Deputy Inspector of Schools when he finally decided to quit his government job in 1921 on the invocation of Mahatma Gandhi for the Non-Cooperation Movement.
He started to write in Urdu initially but in the later part of his career, we can find a mixture of Hindi and Urdu in his works. He became special because the common man could easily relate to his writing as most of his work was based on village life. His writing was simple as well as interesting at the same time.
His work was the reflection of a pure village and was also very effective, he became a hero just because of his work and also teaches us that good content and gaining the attention of the audience is more necessary in this field and is a simple formula to be a good writer.
His works featured realism and described the problems of the poor and the urban middle-class. His stories depicted a rationalistic outlook and used literature for the purpose of arousing public awareness about national and social issues.
He had a common trope of topics related to corruption, child widowhood, prostitution, the feudal system, poverty, colonialism and the Indian freedom movement.
Munshi Premachand- a novelist, story writer and dramatist, he has been referred to as the “Upanyas Samrat” (“Emperor among Novelists”) by his contemporaries. He breathed his last in 1936 and to his credit, he has more than a dozen novels, around 300 short stories, several essays and translations of a number of foreign literary works into Hindi and Urdu.