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Novelist Manik Bandyopadhyay

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Syed Azizul Huq :
Manik Bandyopadhyay (1908-1956), novelist and short story writer, was born in the town of Dumka in Santal Pargana, Bihar, on 29 May in 1908, where his father, Harihar Bandyopadhyay, was stationed at the time.
 Harihar’s ancestral home was Malabadiya, a village near Bikrampur, in Dhaka. His given name was Prabodh Kumar; Manik was his nickname.
Because of his father's frequent transfers, Manik Bandyopadhyay had a checkered schooling in a number of institutions at Dumka, Ara, Sasaram, Kolkata, Brahmanbaria, Barasat, Tangail and Midnapore. He eventually passed the Entrance examination from Midnapore Zila School in 1926. After completing his Intermediate in Science from Wesleyan Mission College, Bankura, in 1928, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Science programme in Presidency College. However, he was unable to complete his studies and started working.
He established and ran the Udayachal Printing and Publishing House along with his brother from 1934 till 1940. At the same time, he worked as Assistant Editor of the Bangashri magazine (1937-39). He was also the provincial organiser of the National War Front of the Indian government and the Publicity Secretary of the Department of Bengal.
Manik Bandyopadhyay's first story, Otosi Mami (1928) was published in the Bichitra while he was studying at Presidency College and created quite a stir. He continued to write, rising to the rank of one of the topmost writers of modern Bangla. He belonged to the Kallol group, the literary circle that broke away from the dominating influence of Rabindranath Tagore and Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
In 1944, he became a member of the Communist Party and continued to be involved in party activities until his death. He was also involved in anti-fascist literary and cultural circles.
In early life, Manik was influenced by Freud, Jung, and Adler, and his writings explore the intricate psychology of human beings. His later writings are markedly Socialistic in nature and reveal his Marxist leanings. He shows how social and financial realities shape urban life. His noted books include the novels, Jononi (1935), Dibaratrir Kabyo (1935), Padmanodir Majhi (1936), Putulnacher Itikotha (1936), Shohortoli (1940, 1941), Chihna (1947), Chotuskone (1948), Sorbojonin (1952), Arogyo (1953) etc. He was also a powerful short story writer with several collections of short stories, among them, Pragoitihasik (1937), Sorisrip (1939), Somudrer Swad (1943), Holud Poda (1945), Aj kal Porshur Golpo (1946), Manik Bandyopadhyay Shrestha Golpo (1950), Pheriwala (1953). Padmanodir Majhi (The Boatman of the River Padma), which has been made into a movie, and Putulnacher Itikotha (The Story of the Puppet Dance) are his most famous novels. Manik Bandyopadhyay had known financial hardship himself and had been helped by the West Bengal government which arranged a literary stipend for him. This is why, in Padmanodir Majhi, he could describe vividly how poverty affects human behaviour.
Manik Bandyopadhyay was a member of the Purbobongo Progoti Lekhok O Shilpi Songha, an association of progressive writers and artists from East Bengal. He was elected Joint Secretary of the body in 1946 and twice presided over its conventions. He worked for communal harmony in the Tollyganj area during the communal riots in 1946.
He breathed his last in Kolkata on 3 December in 1956.

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