Chughtai, a Padma Shree awardee, wrote extensively on femininity, female sexuality, middle-class gentility and class conflict, threw challenges and unearthed the hypocrisies of the contemporary society.
On August 21, Google is celebrating the 107th birthday of Ismat Chughtai, an Indian Urdu language writer with a doodle. Chughtai, a Padma Shree awardee, was born in the year 1911, in Badayun of Uttar Pradesh. Being an alma mater of Aligarh Muslim University, she wrote extensively on femininity, female sexuality, social liberation, and class conflict, threw challenges and unearthed the hypocrisies of the contemporary society.
Ismat Chughtai is that fierce feminist voice of Indian Literature, who unapologetically wrote on the taboos close to the society in this part of the world, never seems to lose its relevance. Her works mostly belong to the genre of Literary Realism – where the author attempts to portray life as it is. The everyday life with its monotony, ways, truths and lies; without the filigree of romance or style.
Being a daughter of an Indian Civil Servant, she travelled throughout the country, before her family settled in Agra. Fasādī, a drama, marked the beginning of her long career spotted by controversies. Many of her writings like Angarey and Lihaaf, were banned in South Asia. While Angarey launched an attack on the hypocrisies of Islam and British colonialism, Lihaaf told a story of female homosexuality, set in the backdrop of a conservation Muslim household.
In fact, Angaray, which received much criticism from the contemporary society, also led to the formation of the All India Progressive Writers’ Association, which was adorned by the likes of Saadat Hasan Manto, Premchand, Ismat Chughtai and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. She also tried her luck in screenwriting, in 1948, with a commercially successful film named Ziddi which was based on one of her short stories. And later went ahead and tried her hands in directing movies like Arzoo and Faraib, along with her husband, which fared well amongst the audience.
Ismat Chughtai was awarded Padma Shree in 1976, for her contribution in the field of literature. Some of her most notable works are Terhi Lakeer, Angarey, Lihaaf, and Chui Mui, all of which are collections of her short stories. This literary stalwart breathed her last on October 24th, 1991 in Mumbai, India.