Born On: May 19th, 1908
Born In: Dumka, Santal Paragona, Bihar
Died On: December 3rd, 1956
Career: Bengali Writer
Producing forty two novels and more than two hundred short stories, Manik Bandopadhyay or Manki Banerjee, is rightly named 'Manik' which means a jewel in Bengali. He is also known as the father of modern Bengali fiction. His notable works like 'Divaratrir Kavya' (A Poem of the Day and the Night), 'Padma Nadir Majhi' (The Boatman of Padma River), Putul Nacher Etikatha (The Tale of Puppet Dance), Chatushkone (Quadrilateral), Janani (Mother), Atasi mami (Aunt Atasi), Pragaitihasik (Pre-historical), Mihi O Mota Kahini (Stories of thin and thick), etc. are fondly remembered even till date and the number of readers increases even as we speak.
Born in a small town called Dumka, in Santal Paragona district of Bihar, Manik Bandopadhyay was the fifth of the fourteen children born to Harihar Bandopadhyay and Niroda Devi. He was named Prabodh Kumar Bandopadhyay at birth which he later gave up to write under the pen name of 'Manik'. Being born to a father who was a government official, young Manik had the chance to experience different lifestyles and meet different people of Bengal. These experiences were later reflected in his novels and short stories. On 28th May 1924, at a tender age of sixteen, he lost his mother and this unfortunate incident left a deep and permanent mark in the mind of Manik Bandopadhyay. It ultimately led him to become a recluse and he cut off ties with his immediate family. In 1926, Manik Bandopadhyay passed the entrance examination from Midnapore Zilla School with a first division and a distinction in optional and compulsory Mathematics. He then joined Welleslyvan Mission College at Bankura and came in contact with a professor named Jackson. This professor highly influenced Manik Bandhopadhyay to read the Bible and cultivate a broader outlook towards religion in general. In 1928, Bandopadhyay cleared the Indian School Certficate exam or the 12th board's exam with first division. It was not difficult for this illustrious student to gain admission in the prestigious Presidency College, Calcutta for a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. This degree, however, he couldn't complete on account of lack of funds. With degrees in the field of Mathematics, it was poverty that propelled Manik Bandopadhyay to write. He joined the Mymensingh Teacher's Training School as its headmaster. He married Kamala Devi in Dhaka, Bangladesh and had two sons and two daughters.
Manik Bandopadhyay was one of the most important and influential novelists in Bengali literature. He had his own unique way of presenting the rich and culturally vibrant rural life on Bengal. Unlike his contemporary authors, who only wrote about the scenic beauty and the simplicity of village life, Manik Bandopadhyay delved deep into the complicated human psyche and the truth of existence in the villages of India. His works also dealt with complicated human psychology and even today, the simplest of his novels leave the readers spell bound as they find themselves into an identifiable position with the characters. He edited the famous magazine 'Nabarun' for a few months in 1934 and worked as an assistant editor for the same in 1937-1938. He established a printing and publishing house in 1939 and worked as a Publicity Assistant for the Government of India in 1943. Manik Bandopadhyay tried to enhance his earnings through these various involvements but writing was his main source of income. It is said that he languished in poverty throughout his life. 'Atasi Mami' or Aunt Atasi in 1935 was the first story that he wrote for a magazine called, 'Bichitra'. He became an active Marxist after joining the Communist Party of India in 1944. However, it is said that he regretted this decision and thought of the Communist Party as an increasingly hollow and tyrannical organization.
Contribution To Literature
With a collection of thirty-four novels and approximately two hundred short stories in a span of twenty seven years, Manik bandopadhyay was a prolific writer throughout his lifetime. Over the years, his works have been published in many different magazines and journals which include 'Bichitra', 'Bangasree', 'Purbasha', 'Ananda Bazaar Patrika', 'Jugantor', 'Satyajug' and Swaraj etc. The novels he wrote established him as the most notable novelist in Bengali literature since Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore and Saratchandra Chatterji. These novels include 'Diba-Ratrir Kabya' (A Poem of the Day and the Night), 'Padma Nadir Majhi' (The Boatman of Padma River) and 'Putul Nacher Itikotha' (The Tale of Puppet Dance). His treatment of human sexuality in 'Chatushkone' (Quadrilateral), 1948 was path-breaking in that time and age.
Manik Bandopadhyay passed away in 1956, at the age of 48. He had struggled hard with poverty and epilepsy from an early age. On 3rd December 1956, this highly talented writer collapsed and fell into a coma. He was admitted to the Nilratan Government Hospital, Calcutta on 2nd December where he breathed his last the next day. Following his death, there was a gathering held on 7th December which was attended by a huge crowd of mourners.
'Putul Nacher Itikotha' (The Tale of Puppet Dance) which was written by Manik Bandopadhyay in 1936 and was published in 'Bharatbarsha'. A movie was also produced based on this novel in 1949. Almost four decades after Manik's death, West Bengal Government published a book on his lifetime contribution to Bengali literature.
1908: Born on 19th May
1924: Manik's mother passed away on the 28th of May
1934: Editor of 'Nabarun' for a few months
1935: Wrote his first short story, 'Atasi Mami'
1936: Wrote 'Putul Nacher Itikotha' (The Tale of Puppet Dance) which was later made into a movie.
1936-37: Co-edited 'Nabarun'.
1943: Publicity Assistant for the Government of India
1944: Joined the Communist party
1956: Passed away at an early age of 48