(Last Updated on : 06/09/2014)
Amrita Pritam, born on 31st August 1919, is considered as the first renowned poet, essayist and novelist of Punjabi literature
. The work of this popular Indian poet and writer is equally loved by the people of both India and Pakistan. Amrita Pritam, who was the first women prominent poet of Punjabi literature, migrated to India from Lahore after India and Pakistan partition in the year 1947. She was the only child of a poet and school teacher, Kartar Singh Hitkari. Her mother died when she was very young. After that they moved to Lahore and they stayed there until partition. She started writing at a very early age. When she was 16 years old, her first collection of poems titled 'Amrit Lehran' was published. She started off as a romantic poet but soon changed her gears and actively participated in the Progressive Writers' Movement. Amrita Pritam also worked at the Lahore Radio Station for some time before shifting to India.
Literary Life of Amrita Pritam
Amrita Pritam began her career as a romantic poet. She is widely remembered for her emotional poem 'Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu' (Today I invoke Waris Shah - 'Ode to Waris Shah'). It was an expression of her agony over the violent massacres that took place during the partition of former British India. One of the most noted works of Amrita Pritam was 'Pinjar' (The Skeleton). This novel portrays the violence against women and loss of humanity. This novel has been wonderfully transformed into an award winning film with the same name in the year 2003. After her divorce in the year 1960, her work became visibly feminist. In fact, most of her work depicted the unhappy experiences of her marriage life. Her various works including her autobiography 'Black Rose and Revenue Stamp' have been translated into other languages like English, Japanese, Danish, French, Urdu and many more. A number of her works have been made into films like 'Dharti Sagar te Sippiyan' as 'Kadambar' (1965) and 'Unah Di Kahani' as 'Daaku' (Dacoit, 1976). For several years, Amrita Pritam also edited a monthly Punjabi literary magazine titled 'Nagmani'. Later on, she also wrote introductions for various books based on Osho and it includes 'Ek Omkar Satnam'. She also produced several works on the theme of spirituality and it includes books like 'Agyat Ka Nimantran' (Call of the Unknown) and 'Kaal Chetna' (Time Consciousness). Amrita Pritam also published several autobiographies namely 'Kala Gulab' (Black Rose), 'Rasidi Ticket' (The Revenue Stamp) and "Aksharon kay Saayee" (Shadows of Words).
Feminism and humanism are the main themes used by Amrita Pritam in her write-ups. Her style of writing is deeply influenced by the folk-poetry of Punjab and her work for a decade or more for the broadcasting media had given her a command over the common man's language. Through her work she always tried to portray the realism of society. She presented her views with extreme clarity and boldness. Feminism and various aspects of feministic ideas got reflected through her novels. In Punjabi literature
, she is popularly known as the most significant voice of the women. Work of Amrita Pritam included poetic quality. Like for instance there are moments of ecstasy, great joy fraught with great-sadness; there are moments of lonely soliloquies and almost spiritual despair and despondency in her works. Amrita Pritam had a flourishing career for more than six decades. In her career, she penned down 28 novels, five short stories, 18 compilations of prose and 16 prose volumes. The most popular short stories written by Amrita Pritam are "Kahaniyan jo Kahaniyan Nahi", "Stench of Kerosene" and "Kahaniyon ke Angan mein".
The admired novels of Amrita Pritam are given below -
* Kore Kagaz, Unchas Din
* Doctor Dev
* Rang ka Patta
* Sagar aur Seepian
* Terahwan Suraj
* Dilli ki Galiyan
The anthologies of poems by Amrita Pritam are as follows -
* Amrit Lehran (Immortal Waves) (1936)
* Jiunda Jiwan (The Exuberant Life) (1939)
* Trel Dhote Phul (1942)
* Gitan Valia (1942)
* Badlam De Laali (1943)
* Lok Peera (The People's Anguish) (1944)
* Pathar Geetey (The Pebbles) (1946)
* Punjabi Di Aawaaz (1952)
* Sunehray (Messages) (1955)
* Ashoka Cheti (1957)
* Kasturi (1957)
* Nagmani (1964)
* Ik Si Anita (1964)
* Chak Nambar Chatti (1964)
* Uninja Din (1979)
* Kagaz Te Kanvas (1981)
* Chuni Huyee Kavitayen
Awards Received by Amrita Pritam
Amrita Pritam, throughout her career, received several prestigious awards. She is the first woman in Punjabi literature to win the esteemed Sahitya Akademi Award
for her composition 'Sunehray'. In the year 1982, she also received the Jnanpith Award
, which is one of the highest literary awards of India, for 'Kagaz Te Canvas' (The Paper and the Canvas). Then again, in the year 1969, she was awarded the Padma Shri Award
and after that in the year 2004, she received the second highest civilian award of India that is the Padma Vibhushan Award
. She also received the "Sahitya Akademi Fellowship" for lifetime achievement by the Sahitya Akademi (India's Academy of Letters).
Amrita Pritam remained extremely popular even after her migration from Pakistan. This prominent writer and poet of India tried to portray the sufferings of the people of both the countries after the partition through her writings. In the year 2007, renowned lyricist Gulzar released "Amrita recited by Gulzar
", an audio album of the poems of Amrita Pritam recited by him. Her work reflects a headstrong, revolutionary and rebellious approach that inspires the readers to break-off the contradictions of life. Amrita Pritam died on 31st of October, 2005 in Delhi
at the age of 86 years.