For academic works, I had the opportunity to visit across the country (before my retirement on superannuation) and one of the names commonly I have heard mostly in the districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana whenever discussion on story and novels were cropped up was the great writer Sri Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (Chatterjee), alternatively written as Sarat Chandra Chatterjee. He was born on 15 September 1876, now in Hooghly district of present West Bengal and passed away on 16 January 1938 in Calcutta/Kolkata. Sri Chatterjee was a novelist and short story writer. Most of his works highlighted the lifestyle, tragedy, suffering and struggle of the people of then Bengal also on the contemporary social practices that prevailed in Bengal. Based on his novels many films were produced in different languages and among these one very popular is Devdas. Based on Devdas in Hindi 17 times different movies were produced by the film makers because the novel is very favourite to them for making films. In 1937 Assamese film based on Devdas was produced and the film was directed by Sri Pramathesh Chandra Barua. It is pertinent to mention that Sri Barua was born on 24 October 1903 in Assam, (Brahmaputra valley) and passed away at comparatively early age, that is, on 29 November 1951. He was a brilliant actor, director, and screenwriter. Prior to Devdas Assamese film, Sri Barua produced Devdas in Bengali in 1935 and in 1936 in Hindi. Also based on Devdas in 1953 a film under the title of Devadasu was produced in Telugu and Tamil languages (the later on changed name to Devadas).
Sarat Chandra ji had to struggle in his life although he studied at a village school but was forced to drop out of college due to his economic issue. He spent most of his childhood with his mother at her family’s home in Bhagalpur, Bihar (in Bengali called Mamabari/maternal uncles’ house).
After coming to Bhagalpur, Sarat Chandra ji was admitted to the scholarship class of ME school and by staying in Bhagalpur he wrote many stories. At the age of 27, he went to Rangoon (now Yangon, Myanmar) and joined as a clerk in a government office and published his first short story Mandir that won the Kuntolin Puraskar. He stayed in Rangoon for 13 years and after that he returned to Bengal, and started writing. He was a favourite among the readers for his publications in Jamuna and Bichitra. Among Sarat Chandra ji’s many popular novels, few are mentioned here – Devdas (written in 1901 but published in 1917), Parineeta (1914), Biraj Bou (1914), Palli-Samaj (1916), Srikanta (in four parts; 1917, 1918, 1927, 1933), Charitraheen (1917), Grihadaha (1919), Pather-Dabi (1926), Shesh Prashno (1931), Bipradas (1935) etc. I wish to mention here among his other stories Mejdidi has greatly touched me. Based on the story in Hindi and Bengali films have been produced under the title of Majhli Didi and Mejdidi respectively.
On this auspicious occasion of his birthday, great salute to respected Sri Sarat Chandra Chatterjee.
Dr Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad