Phanishwar Nath ‘Renu’ is regarded as one of the most significant signature in the realm of modern Hindi Literature. After the legendary Hindi author Premchand, his works are reckoned as the next brilliant examples of Hindi literature. His novel Maila Anchal, for which he was honored with Padma Shri, is regarded as the next best Hindi work after Premchand’s Godaan. The showman of Bollywood Raj Kapoor starrer classic movie “Teesri Kasam” was based on his short story “Maare Gaye Gulfam”.
The renowned Hindi author Phanishwar Nath’s real name was Fanindranath Mukhopadhaya and he was born to a Bengali Brahmin family. He later added the pen-name “Renu” to his name. He was born on March 4, 1921 in a village called Aurahi Hingna, which is near Forbesganj in the Araria district of Bihar.
He did his early school education from Araria and Forbesganj. Then he did his Matriculation from Biratnagar Adarsh Vidyalaya, Biratnagar, Nepal, the Nepal border being just 12 kms from Forbesganj. While studying in Nepal, he stayed with the prominent Koirala family of Nepal. In 1942, he completed his IA from the Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalaya.
Participation in Freedom struggle
He then dedicated himself to the 1942- Quit India movement of freedom struggle of India. After the independence of India in 1947, and by 1950 he began participating in the revolutionary movement in Nepal against the rule of the Ranas. The movement resulted in making Nepal a democratic nation.
In 1954, his first novel in Hindi was published. “Maila Anchal”, or, the dirty linen; brought about a revolution in Hindi literature. The novel was set in rural Bihar and the characters were taken from the backward and deprived section of society. This path-breaking novel, written in his unique writing style, brought in the era of the “regional story-telling” in the Hindi literature. The novel also brought him one of the highest civilian honor of India, the Padma Shri which was conferred on him in 1970. It is another matter that he returned the award in 1975 to protest against the Emergency that was imposed upon India.
In 1966, the Raj Kapoor starrer film “Teesri Kasam” was based on his story Maare Gaye Gulfam, and he also wrote the screenplay and dialogues. It was directed by the renowned director Basu Bhattacharya and produced by film lyricist Shailendra.
Even as recently as in November 2017, a Bollywood film “Panchlait” was made, which was based on his short story Panchlight. A TV film has already been made earlier on this story.
He was much respected by his contemporary authors and his friendship with the poet Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana “Agyey” is legendary. He was also closely associated with Bengali novelist Satinath Bhaduri.
His Literary Contributions
Phanishwar Nath ‘Renu’ was well versed with Bengali and Nepali languages. He brought to the fore the voice of rural India into the mainstream Hindi literature. Renu wrote a number of novels in Hindi, and some of his prominent ones were, Maila Anchal, Parti Parikatha, Deerghtapa, Paltu Babu Road, Kitne Chaurahe etc. He also wrote several biographical memoirs and non-fiction books.
He will be remembered as the most influential writer of the post-Premchand era in Hindi literature.
His first wife was Padma. Later, he married Latika in 1951 whom he met in Patna while he was in hospital in which she worked as a nurse. His son Padma Parag Renu had become a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Bihar from Forbesganj constituency, while the younger son Dakhineshwar Renu runs an NGO called Renu Samaj Seva Sansthan.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah
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