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Bangla literature through ages

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11th-Jul-2014       
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Mohammad Daniul Huq and Aminur Rahman :

(From the previous issue)
The efforts at writing Bangla plays in the first phase on the basis of contemporary period and society continued with vigour in the second phase. The plays in this phase were varied and tried to portray the social realities. Several of Munier Chowdhury's powerful plays, including some translated works, were published at this time. Munier Chowdhury's Dandakaranya (1966) was written on the subject of contemporary society. His play Chithi was a satire written on ordinary subjects to creater laughter. Although written on a historical subject, his Raktakta Prantar was a superb dramatisation of the contemporary anti-war psychology. Based on historical subjects, Sikander Abu Zafar's Sirajuddaula (1965) and Mahakavi Alaol (1966) were comments on life. Shawkat Osman also attempted to write plays on contemporary society. His Amlar Mamla, Taskar Laskar, Kankar Mani and Etimkhana were all based on contemporary social topics.
Syed Waliullah was a distinguished name in Bangla dramatic literature. He was the first playwright to introduce the style and techniques of elegance and technique in Bangla plays. His Bahipir and Tarabgabhabga (1964) were additions of differing genre in Bangla drama. Like him, Sayeed Ahmed also used modern philosophy and artistic theories to create Bangla plays. His Kalbela (1962) and Milepost could be compared with the standard of world class plays. In technique of form too these plays were innovative and experimental.
Alauddin Al-Azad's Mayabi Prahar (1969) is based on class struggle, while Moroccor Yadughar (1959) depicts the problems of modern life through symbolsm. Sikander Abu Zafar also successfully used symbolism in his plays as  in Shakunta Upakhyan (1968). Zia Haider's Shubhra Sundar Kalyani Ananda (1970) and Abdullah Al-Mamun's Shapath (1965) are also essentially symbolic plays. Other playwrights of this period include anis Chowdhury, Neelima Ibrahim, A.N.M. Bazlur Rashid, Ibrahim Khalil and Kalyan Mitra.
The essays in this phase mainly concentrated on research about the history of Bangla literature with emphasis on Muslim writers. Some important works of the time were Nazirul Islam Muhammad Sufian's Bangla Sahityer Natun Itihas, Abdul Latif Choudhury's Bangla Sahityer Itihas, Muhammad Enamul Huq's Muslim Bangla Sahitya, joint work of Muhammad Abdul Hai and Syed Ali Ahsan Bangla Sahityer Itibrtta, Kazi Deen Muhammad's Bangla Sahityer Itihas and Muhammad Mansuruddin's Bangla Sahitye Muslim Sadhana.
Other essays on society, literature and culture were written at this time, including the essays contained in Kazi Deen Muhammad's Sahitya-sambhar O Sahityashilpa, Ahmad Sharif's Bichita Chinta and Mazharul Islam's Sahitya Pathe. There have been many essays on thematic aspects of Bangla literature but few on its structural aspects. Syed Ali Ahsan, however, showed the way in his Kavitar Katha and Adhunik Kavita: Shabder Anusange. Other important essays in this respect were Syed Ali Ashraf's Kavya Parichay and Ranesh Dasgupta's Upanyaser Shilparup.
In this phase several writers wrote books on Bangla. A number of well-known works include Muhammad Shahidullah's Bangala Bhasar Itibirtta, Muhammad Abdul Hai's Dhvani Bijvan O Bangla Dhvanitattva, and Shibprosanna Lahiri's Sylheti Bhasatattver Bhumika. A number of books were also written on the contribution of Muslim writers in Bangla literature. Some of these books include Anisuzzaman's Muslim Manas O Bangla Sahitya, Kazi Abdul Mannan's Adhunik Bangla Sahitye Muslim Sadhana, Muhammad Mahfuzullah's Bangla Kavye Muslim Aitihya, Mustafa Nurul Islam's Muslim Bangla Sahitya and Ghulam Saqlain's Muslim Sahitya O Sahityik and Purba Pakistaner Sufi Sadhak.
The interest in Puthi literature grew at this time as researchers delved into the medieval past of Bangla literature. Alaol's Padmavati was edited by Muhammad Shahidullah, Syed Ali Ahsan and Abdul Karim Sahityavixarad. Ahmad Sharif edited over 15 puthis including Daulat Uzir Bahram Khan's Laily-Majnu (1958), Alaol's Tohfa (1958), Muhammad Khan's Satyakali-Bibad-Sambad Ba Yug Sambad (1959) and Jainuddin's Rasulbijay (1964). Daulat Kazi's Satimayna O Lorchandrani (1969) was edited by Mazharul Islam and Muhammad Abdul Hafiz, and Nawajis Khan's Gule Bakawali (1970) was edited by Razia Sultana.
Despite the antipathy of the Pakistani rulers towards Rabindranath, the period saw a growing interest in Rabindranath reflected in the number of books written on him. Among these books are Mofazzal Haider Chaudhuri's Rabi Parikrama, Anwar Pasha's Rabindra Chhotagalpa Samiksa, Jogeshchandra Singh's Dhyani Rabindranath, Anisuzzaman edited Rabindranath, Syed Akram Husain's Rabindranather Upanyas: Deshkal O shilparup, Ahmad Kabir's Rabindrakavya: Upama O Pratik and Humayun Azad's Rabindranath: Rastra O Samajchinta.
The liberation war of 1971 and the independence of Bangladesh marks the third phase of the literature of this region.
The fiction of this phase records the saga of the liberation war, the hellish face of the war, the dream of a free and egalitarian Bangladesh and thereafter the realisation of independence. Syed Shamsul Huq's novels of this phase depict the complex and multifaceted conflicts. His novel Duratva (1981) very faithfully portrays, through the autobiographical account of Zainal, a college teacher, the intricate socio-political realities of post-1975 Bangladesh. His two other novels, Mahashunye Paran Master 1982) and Ayna Bibir Pala (1982), also depict the changes and erosion in rural life.
Hasnat Abdul Hai's novel Timi (1981) depicts the instability and socio-political scenario of the years immediately following independence. It portrays quite faithfully how the people of the coastal union Kazalpur win in their struggle against evil forces. Almost an identical picture is portrayed in his novel Prabhu (1986). Bashir al-Helal's Shesh Panpatra (1986) is also a fine portrayal of conflicts and questions of existence in post-indepence rural Bangladesh.
The struggle of the char people for survival in the coastal region has been truly reflected in Selina Husain's Jalochchhvas (1972) and Pokamakader Gharbasati (1986). Two other books of the type are Abu Bakr Siddique's Jal Raksas (1985) and Kharadaha (1987). A more optimistic view of rural life is found in Haripada Dutta's Ishane Agnidaha (1986) and Andhakupe Janmotsav (1987).
A large section of the patriotic middle class who took part in the liberation war got frustrated at the country's economic, social and political conditions. The post-1971 novels painted pictures of the post-independence instability and despondency. Sarder Jayenuddin's Shrimati Ka O Kha Ebam Shriman Taleb Ali (1973) depicts the overwhelming corrosion in the life of the middle class in the post-liberation days. Humayun Ahmed's Nandita Narake (1972) and Shabkhanil Karagar (1973) depict the static state of the life of the middle class and their frustrations and loneliness. The picture of the alienated hedonist is found in Syed Shamsul Huq's Khelaram Khele Ya (1973). The multifarious problems in the life of the middle class are also depicted in Rashid Karim's Prem Ekti Lal Golap (1978) and Sadharan Loker Kahini (1981). Rizia Rahman's Rakter Aksar (1978), on the other hand, paints the dark picture of an urban slum of sex workers. Her Ekti Fuler Janya (1986) presents a freedom fighter's face wearing the scars of defeat. Some other similar books are Shawkat Ali's Apeksa (1985), Bashir Al-Helal's Kalo Ilish (1979), Hasnat Abdul Hai's Amar Atatayi (1980), and Selina Husain's Magnachaitanye Shish (1979). Razia Khan's novel He Mahajiban (1983) narrates the biography of a liberated woman.                                     
   (to be continued)

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