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Celebration of 80 years of Munshi Premchand’s novel Godaan

To celebrate 80 years of legendary writer Munshi Premchand’s novel Godaan, Jamia Millia Islamia is organising screening of a film based on the novel on Wednesday, August 10.

Film Godaan is an adaptation of the novel with screen play and direction by noted writer, poet, lyricist and director Gulzar and will be screened at 2.30 PM at the university’s Dr. M.A. Ansari Auditorium which has a seating capacity of 500.

Prof. Sabiha A. Zaidi, Director of Jamia’s Premchand Archives and Literary Centre which is organizing the event said that Prof. M. Asaduddin, a renowned literature & Dean, Faculty of Humanities & Languages of the university will introduce the film. The entry to the screening will be on first-cum-first serve basis.

Godaan is the last complete novel of Munshi Premchand, whose real name was Dhanpat Rai, jointly published first in Hindi by Saraswati Press, Benaras and Hindi Granth Ratnakar Karyalaya, Bombay in 1936 and later after his death in Urdu in 1939 by Maktaba Jamia Limited, publishing wing of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI).

The Urdu version of Godaan was translated by renowned Urdu poet Munshi Iqbal Verma Sehar Hathgami. Two decades later, in 1957 it was translated into English by Jai Ratan and P. Lal and again in 1968 by Gordon C. Roadarmel which came to be considered a classic in itself. The novel has been translated in most major languages of India and in French, German and Russian languages.

There has been a debate regarding most of Premchand’s publications and so was with Godaan. However, the available corpus of letters have been useful in demolishing even the minimal controversy regarding the year of publication of Godaan and it is clearly established as May 1936. A letter of Munshi Premchand written on March 19, 1935 to Hasamuddin Gauri makes it clear that Premchand had made up his mind that the Urdu version of his novel would be published from Jamia Maktaba.

The popularity of the novel rests on its characters which were representative of millions of India’s poor and oppressed people; and in Premchand’s elaboration of the problems of growing deceit and high-handedness of the Zamindars. The struggle for existence of the common man in dismal situation with pressing norms of dignity prescribed by the affluent social and religious authorities and the natural responses of the oppressed to situations beyond their control lend a universal appeal to this novel.

Premchand’s stories have been prescribed in schools and college syllabi and studied at all levels both in formal curricula as well as informally across India and beyond. His stories have also been widely taken up for theatrical adaptations. The multifarious medium of cinema has been applied to this very popular novel twice. It was first produced as a Hindi film starring Rajkumar, Mehmood and Shashikala in 1963 and later in 2004, it was produced by Doordarshan as part of a 26-episode TV series ‘Tahreer-e-Premchand’ with screenplay and direction by the distinguished writer Gulzar.

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