Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, popularly known by his pseudonym Premchand, was a boon to Indian literature. Born in Lamhi, a small village near Varanasi, on July 31, 1880, Premchand is considered one of India’s greatest literary figures for his immortal stories and novels.
Besides his iconic stories and novels, Premchand also left behind a rich legacy of his plays, essays, translations and children’s literature.
The legendary writer’s work reflects the realities of colonial India and delves into the roots of the social ills of the time. His writings presented the prevailing socio-economic realities in a country that was slowly emerging from the shackles of colonialism as a fledgling nation.
Her literary work highlighted several issues ranging from widow remarriage, dowry, untouchability, labor exploitation, prostitution, and the feudal system, among others.
On Premchand’s 142nd birthday, here’s a look at some of his most popular novels.
Highlighting class struggle and the exploitation of the oppressed by landlords in a feudal society, Godaan is a spectacular literary creation that shows the socio-economic realities of pre-independent India. A film adaptation of the novel was also released in 1963, with actors like Raaj Kumar, Mehmood and Shashikala playing the lead roles.
Seva Sadan (1918)
Originally written in Urdu under the nickname Bazaar-e-Husn, the novel was published in Hindi in 1919. It was Premchand’s first major novel. The story featured a housewife who embarks on a journey of reform against social stigma.
One of the best examples of Premchand’s writing, Gaban tells the story of a man named Ramnath who ends up stealing some jewelry from his wife. The novel presents the struggle of young people in pre-independent India in the most authentic light.
The novel deals a striking blow to the dowry exploitation that women endure even now. The story revolves around a young woman married to an elderly man and highlights the unfair treatment of women.
Karmabhoomi is based on the state of Uttar Pradesh in the 1930s and shows the exploitation of the poor by the privileged class. Premchand successfully portrayed the class struggle in the early 1930s, when exploitation of the poor prevailed across the country, regardless of class and religion.