Nirode Chaudhury was Indian Novelist
Nirode Chaudhury ( 24 April 1936-10 February 2001 ) was an Indian novelist, short story writer, literary critic, essayist, and journalist who wrote in the Assamese language. He has published 28 novels, 13 collection of short stories and eight books of non-fiction. His most popular novels include Stabdha Brindavan, Deh Deul, Devi, Banahansha, , Kalhira, Pani, Nam Rakhilo Basobi, Nakal Bagh, Kuwalir Akhar, Kachghar, Mon Prajapati. He is also know for his short Chameli Memsaab, that was made into a successful Assamese film. Dr Bhupeh Hazarika bagged the National award for best music for this film in the year 1975. The film was later remade into Bengali and Hindi.
Nirode Chaudhury also had an illustrious journalistic career. He writing in various newspapers, his dramatic reporting of the macabre crime committed by the former session Judge Upen Rajkhowa and his humanist and analytical reporting of Bangladesh war of liberation, is still talked about in Assam’s cultural and literary circles.
CHILDHOOD &EARLY YEARS
Nirode Chaudhury was born in Doom Dooma, a town committee city in Tinsukia district of upper Assam. He was the second of the six children of Chanaram Chaudhury and Savitri Devi. The family originally belong to the Hanekuchi village in Nalbari district of middle Assam. In search of better business opportunities Chanaram Chaudhury migrated to Doom Dooma, and set up a grocery shop. This small town where Nirode Chaudhury spent his early years, had a mystic presence in all his writings.
Set amidst the pulsating green, and steeped in the swirling smell of budding tea leaves Doom Dooma imbibes in itself the essence of Assam tea life. Nirode Chaudhury spent his childhood, roaming the gravel and coal topped roads of the gardens, soaking in the sights of the endless carped of delicate foliage, the tea garden workers and the English sahib and memsahib reminiscing their faraway home in the club houses. The feel and the images left an indelible imprint on his young mind, which would later become the backdrop for the innumerable stories he would weave.
After completing his sixth standard from Doom Dooma primary school, Nirode Chaudhury was sent by his father to his maternal uncle’s place in Guwahati. Here he enrolled himself in Cotton Collegiate school. His aunt besides being a housewife was an avid reader, who in a way introduced young Nirode to the world literature. He began to read the books and magazines with keen interest, and it was not long before, that he tried his hand in writing. He began to contribute regularly for the children’s magazine, “Pokhila” ( Butterfly) edited and published by legendary Assamese film maker and writer Joyti Prasad Agarwala
It so happened once, that Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, wrote to young Nirode where he appreciated his write ups but complained about his appalling handwriting. Nirode Chaudhury took this advice to his heart and worked on improving his handwriting. Later, the famous poet of Assam Nabakanta Barua remarked that “Is it Nirode’s handwriting or are they drops of pearls?”
Nirode Chaudhury completed his graduation from Cotton College in the year 1960. He enrolled himself for the post graduation program in Guwahati University. But without completing his MA degree he went back to Doom Dooma, and joined as teacher in Xunlal High School. He worked there for a year but returned to Guwahati and joined the Assam tribune group.
Nirode Chaudhury had a long and dedicated association with the Assam Tribune group where he worked in various capacities. Beginning with the library section, he moved on to the editorial department, simultaneously writing for the English newspaper Assam Tribune, the Assamese daily Dainik Asom and weekly paper Asom Bani. He later became the editor of Asom Bani.
NOVELS & SHORT STORIES
Nirode Chaudhury was a prolific writer who dominated the Assamese literary scene from late seventies to early nineties. His attractive prose and nuanced expression made him the favorite of many. The hallmark of his writings was his innate ability to keep the readers guessing on “what happens next”. Out of a simple theme he could weave out an engrossing tale. His deep understanding of human emotions, the confusion of the middle class, the clash of values helped him write tales with a reality touch. At times to a reader the borderline between fact and fiction in the story gets blurred. His racy style and his mastery over word play makes his stories stand out.
As a writer of romantic stories Nirode Chaudhury had few parallels. A good number of his stories were woman-centric. In those stories, he deftly brought to the fore the mental agony, angst, exploitation, hopes, aspiration of the fair sex. Though the medium of stories he explicitly displayed the dream of women and at times, how they get shattered.
In one of his most memorable romantic stories Chameli Memsaab, which first appeared in Monideep magazine in the form of a short story, Nirode Chaudhury very delicately brings out the blooming romance between two persons of entirely different background – an English gentleman and a tea garden worker. The story changes gears when instead of the routine ‘they remained happily married ever after’, he crafts the tragic end. The story was later made into a successful national award winning film with the same name that saw Dr. Bhupen Hazarika bag the Best Music Director’s award.
Commenting on his writing style professor Upendra Nath Sharma in ‘Modern Assamese Life and Culture’ (published by Assam Academy of cultural, November 1985, edited by Dr Birandranath Dutta and Dr Amarjyoti Choudhury ) makes the following observation about him “In Nirode Chaudhury we receive the sunset glow of the Ramdhenu Age. He seemed to represent the tradition of Romantic Realism so dominant in the field of Assamese short story. Some of his stories had a weak structure and possess more than one center. But he had created a self of stories that are unified whole. His stories are appealing and he knows the story tellers art. He knows how to arose the curiosity of the readers. His to digest his experience is great and he can easily shape them into stories. In his stories we meet the various tales of men and women – A labor girl whose sprit is crushed under the stress of poverty; a teacher harassed by mans hypocrisy and lust; a tea garden labor who becomes a kept to preserve the integrity of her mother. Chaudhury has thrown much light on various areas of middle class life. He does not introduce any revolutionary ideas and does not desire a complete change. He is deeply attracted to the beauty and colour of life. His innate sense of form can give shape to his stories in a natural manner. His Language is lucid and colourful. His great weakness is the absence of critical reality. But Chaudhury has been able to bridge the growing rift between the writer and his audience. His picture of tea garden life is best since Rasna Barua wrote Seuji Patar Kahani.”
Nirode Chaudhury’s body of work gave him gave immense popularity that was unheard of in Assamese literary field. Most of his books had turned into best sellers, going into multiple reprints. His stories that were a tapestry of delicate human emotion and a profound understanding of human situation and psyche found easy resonance with the masses.
Mahenda Borthakur the famous writer and dramatist of Assam had called him the “ Master of plotted stories” He argues that Chaudhury never relied on any “stunt” to draw the attention of his readers, rather his innate ability to make the ordinary into extraordinary, was the reason for his popularity. Mahendra Barthakur further quotes Ftank O Cornar to illustrate his style of writing “It doesn’t deal with a problems: It doesn’t have solution to offer; It just states the human situation”
Some of his popular novels include Stabdha Brindavan, Deh Deul, Devi, Banahansha, Kukuha, Kalhira, Pani, Nam Rakhilo Basobi, Nakal Bagh, Kuwalir Akhar, Kachghar, Mon Prajapati, Kasturi Mrigh,.Mur Galpa, Jatayu, Nasta Chandra.
The creative urge of Nirode Chaudhury was so pronounced that he didn’t confine himself just in the domain of story-telling. After completing his education, he joined the leading weekly of the State – Assam Bani, As a journalist he broke new grounds. His analytical reporting, human interest stories written in a crisp and compact style became a rage among the readers.
As a journalist he displayed the courage of a fearless writer who never deviated from the ethics governing the profession. His regular column on the Page 3 of Asom Bani endeared the readers. It turned to be one of the most popular pages of the weekly. His writings as a journalist were not just confined to one particular field. From politics to sports, from cinema to investigative pieces, from human interest stories to art and culture, his writings encompassed them all. As a sports journalist he was again a trendsetter. His reports on sports, especially Cricket Test matches, at a time when there was no television, became very popular.
As an investigative journalist he scaled new heights. A lot of brutal murder cases, conviction of criminals are now occurring with monotonous regularity. But very few journalists have been able to project them in the true light. The investigative reporting of Nirode Choudhury in the sensational murder cases committed by Upen Rajkhowa at Dhubri in the early 1970s took the readers by storm. The report, which appeared in the form of a series in Assam Bani, became so popular that the readers had to book their copies in advance. It also reflected on the circulation of Asam Bani, which went up.
His reporting from Dhaka after birth of Bangladesh was very well received. In those reports he painted a very vivid picture of the agony and ecstasy of the people at the birth of the new nation. Later he compiled his writing in book form and named it Buri Gangat jui.
It was cine journalism which seemed to appeal him the most. He can be easily regarded as the pioneer of cine journalism in the region. From a very nascent state he developed it to a specialized branch of journalism. He was the first who wrote cinema reports regularly and was instrumental in making the actors popular among the masses. Nirode Chaudhury became the role model of the subsequent cine-journalists of the State.
Four novels and one short story of Nirode Chaudhury were made into classic Assamese films. Chameli Memsaab a short story, was made into a film by the ace director Abdul Majid in the year 1975. The film was produced by “ Seuj Bulchobi Santha” The music of the film was composed by Dr Bhupen Hazarika, who recived his first National Award in music for this film. The film had George Baker, Binita Borgohai. Abdul Mjiad, Dr Haji Alam Bora in the lead.
‘Chameli Memsaab’ remains the only Assamese film till date, to be remade into Bengali and Hindi versions. The Bengali ‘Chameli Memsaab’ was directed bu Inder Sen, with George Baker, Rakhee Gulzar, and Anil Chatterjee in the lead. It was released in the year 1978.
Hindi ‘Chameli Memsaab’, directed by Ajit Lahiri was released in 1981. The main roles were played by Tom Alter, Mithun Chakraborty and Abha Dhulia.
‘Mon Prajapati’ another classic novel by Nirode Chaudhury was turned into a film by Dr Bhupen Hazarika. It was produced by “ Brahamaputra Films” and released in the year 1979. Beside directing the film Dr Bhupen Hazarika also composed the music. It had Bhobhes Barua, Gayatri Dutta and Mina Rajkhowa in the lead. Nirode Chaudhury had mention in his autobiography ‘Doom Dooma Doom Dooma’ that after listening to the story ‘Mon Prajapati’ from Bhupen Hazatika, renowned director Mrinal Sen, was eager to make it into a film. But due to some financial constrains the film never got made. Nevertheless the Bhupen Hazarika directed ‘Mon Prajapati’, was well received by the critics and masses alike.
The director duo Bijoy Choudhury and Piysh Kanti made another popular novel of Nirode Chaudhury, ‘Kachghar’ into film. It was produced by ‘Chitramala Mandiar’ and had Bijoy Shankar and the famous Bangladeshi actress Jayasree Rai in the lead. It was released in the year 1975. The music of the film was composed bu Jitu –Tapan and lyrics for the songs written by Dr Bhupen Hazarika.
The novel “Banahansha” was made into film by Abdul Majid. It was produced by “Seuj Bulchobi Santha’ and released in the year 1977. Bijoy Shankar, Bitupi Mahanta, Deepa Dutta played the lead roles. The music of the film was composed by Dr Bhupen Hazarika.
Set in the backdrop of Assam’s perennial flood problem the novel ‘Pani’ was made into a film by Prafulla Saikia. It was released in the year 1995. It had Bijoy Shankar, Brajen Bora, Bobeeta Sharma and Pranjal Saikia in the lead. The music was composed by Dr Bhupen Hazarika.
Nirode Chaudhury had eight books of Non Fiction to his credit.
His works Lata Suriya Lata, Meena Kumari, Indira Gandhi were biographical in nature. In Lata Suriya Lata he writes about Indians melody queen Lata Mangeskar. It was published in the year 1986. While receiving a copy of the book Lata Mangesker, has said it was one of the first and the finest books written about her life.
Nirode Chaudhury was a great admirer of actress Meena Kumari. He had met her on numerous occasions during his earlier years as a film journalist. Her evocative portrayal of on screen characters and her personal struggles prompted Nirode Chaudhury to write a book on her.
The book Radha Govinda Baruah, dealt with the life and times of Radha Govinda Baruah the founder of the Assam Tribune group.
In ‘Asomiya Bulsobir Itihas “Nirode Chaudhury attempts to write the history of Assamese cinema. The book is a compressive account of the first two films made in Assam, Joymoti and Indramalati both produced a directed by Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.
‘Bichitra’ published in 1964 and ‘Bohu Mukh Bohu rang’ published in the year 1967 are collection of news based articles of Nirode Chaudhury.
Nirode Chaudhury also wrote the Lyrics for the Assamese film ‘Angikar’. The music of the film was composed by Dr Bhupen Hazarika.
HIS VISUAL LANGUAGE
To complement the lucid, nuanced, and intellectually nourishing writing style, Nirode Chaudhury adopted a bold and experimental visual language for his book covers, posters, and even some independent articles. Even though some of the avant-garde illustrations for his works were done by himself, Chaudhury never shied away from collaborating with his contemporaries or even established artists like O.C. Ganguly and Purnendu Patri , to get the required results.
Nirode Chaudhury’s visual language can be referred to as an abstraction of his writing, complementing the author’s complex yet alluring writing style. From flat brush to abstract collage, Chaudhury never held himself back to explore and experiment with mediums in illustrations, at times even experimenting with his visual language, shifting from a minimalist approach to complex montage, to make a visual rendition or an expression of his writing. Chaudhury blended his artistic skills mostly with his short stories and at times he even flaunted his calligraphy skills to be incorporated with his stories.