Tuesday’s Google Doodle honours the revolutionary writer Ismat Chughtai. born on August 21, 1911, in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, Chughtai was a contemporary to legends like Saadat Hasan Manto and Rajinder Singh Bedi. Her writing on female sexuality, class conflict, the morality of the society at that time made for some powerful stories.
Calling her ‘The Grand Dame of Urdu Fiction,’ Google Doodle decided to honour the author on her 107th birth anniversary, to be grateful of her words on free speech, social liberation, and gender equality.
Not just writing, Chughtai also dabbled in the movie industry by acting in Shyam Benegal’s 1978 film Junoon. She also wrote the dialogues for the movie based on Ruskin Bond’s novella A Flight of Pigeons which was around the events of Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Here are some things you ought to know about the fierce soul still guiding the new generation of feminist writers in India and world over.
1. Born in a middle-class family, Ismat was the ninth kid of a civil servant and a homemaker.
2. Ismat narrowly avoided an arranged marriage at the age of 15 and convinced her parents to let her continue education.
3. She earned Bachelor’s Degree in Arts at Isabella Thoburn College. She got her Bachelor Degree in Education from Aligarh Muslim University. This double achievement made her the first Indian Muslim woman to earn double degrees.
4. Her most enduring story, ‘Lihaaf’ (The Quilt) was published in Adab-i-Latif, a literary magazine based in Lahore in 1942. Lihaaf is a story about a homosexual relationship between a wealthy landlord’s wife and her female servant. Chughtai always felt that the work that followed Lihaaf had to bear the burden of it.
5. ‘Kalyan,’ ‘Ek Baat,’ ‘Choten,’ are other few notable short stories that were written by Chughtai. ‘Gainda’ was another groundbreaking story about a lower-caste woman that falls in love with an upper-caste man.
6. Her novel Tedhi Lakeer is assumed to be a quasi-biography of Chughtai. The novel is a commentary on the lives of Indian Muslims women in pre-Independence India.
7. For fierce writing, writer Qurratulain Hyder or Ainee Apa called Chughtai Lady Changez Khan.
8. Ismat dabbled in movie writing with 1948 movie Shikayat. She wrote some iconic movies like Dev Anand’s 1948 film Ziddi, Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal’s 1950 movie Arzoo were a few iconic movies.
9. She won Filmfare’s Best Story Award for 1973’s Garm Hawa.
10. The government of India honoured her with Padma Shri award in 1976. In her career, she was bestowed with Sahitya Akademi Award among other accolades.
11. Ismat bid adieu to this world on October 24, 1991.
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