Suchitra Bhattacharya- The Author I Like
Suchitra Bhattacharya- One of My Favorite Female Authors of All Times
India is the land of countless creative geniuses whose works have captured the hearts and imagination of people across the country. These artists, sculptors, painters, and authors play a critical role in shaping the perspectives of their audiences towards various issues. I believe writers have a significantly deeper and longer-lasting impact on society. I, for one, have been deeply inspired and influenced by the works of Suchitra Bhattacharya. I consider her one of the greatest female authors of modern times, whose contributions to Bengali and Indian literature are phenomenal. Her focus on highlighting contemporary social issues through her work remained unwavering throughout her career as a writer.
A Peek into The Early Life of Suchitra Bhattacharya
Suchitra Bhattacharya was born in the Bhaghalpur district of Bihar on 10th January 1950. She displayed an interest in writing when she was still a young girl. She completed her graduation from Jogamaya Devi College in Kolkatta and took up several odd jobs until she finally joined the public services. While she took up creative writing in the 1970s, it was only in the mid-1980s that she started writing novels. In 2004, Suchitra finally bid farewell to her career in public services to become a full-time writer. By this time, she had already established herself as an accomplished writer of the Bengali language. Her writings highlighted the various issues contemporary women of all age groups face, which endeared her to countless female readers, including me.
An Overview Of The Writing Career Of Suchitra
As a writer, Suchitra wrote 20 novels and numerous short stories. Her works represent the wide range of problems and struggles, joys and sorrows, and emotions and beliefs of contemporary middle-class women. She was one of the few writers who depicted the desires, expectations, actions, and reactions of women of diverse age groups quite realistically and satisfactorily. She was quite impressed by other female writers of her age, including Sangita Bandyopadhyay and Tilottama Majumdar. Suchitra was also deeply influenced by the works of other notable Bengali women writers like Ashapurna Debi and Mahasweta Debi.
Apart from Writing about women’s issues, Suchitra also tried her hand at crime fiction. She wrote a series of crime novels featuring the character of Mithin Masi, one of the few female detectives found in Bengali literature. She also wrote a series of Mithin Masi novels for adults. In addition, she also wrote several short stories and novels for children. Given the wide variety of her works, it would not be wrong to say that Suchitra Bhattacharya was truly an author of the masses. Many of her novels and short stories have been translated into various Indian languages. Also, around half of her novels have been made into films.
Her depiction of middle-class households and life patterns is quite vivid and intense along with her touching portrayal of human relationships. Her free-flowing and captivating writing style complements the details she offers about the typical Bengali lifestyle. Her flair for compelling storytelling makes the narrative feel real, natural, and interesting. Reading her works makes the readers aware of the vastness and severity of the issues addressed. Hence, it is not surprising that she stuck a chord with the masses in the urban and suburban settings.
Some Of My Favorite Works Of Suchitra Bhattacharya
Suchitra Bhattachrya’s understanding of Bengali society, especially the middle-class Bengali women, is quite amazing. Being a Bengali woman from a middle-class family, I found her works easily relatable. While I love every word of Suchitra, the following two are my favorite novels penned by the author.
Kacher Dewal: This is the first successful novel of Suchitra Bhattacharya and focuses on the struggles of two women from different generations. The novel focuses on the struggles of 18-year-old Brishti, the only daughter of her now-separated parents, Jaya and Subir. Brishti continues to seek the undivided love and attention of her parents but feels let down by her mother. While Subir dotes on her and often presents her with lavish gifts, he cannot spend much time with her. This is because Subir has remarried and now has a wife and a six-year-old son to look after. Although Jaya has not remarried, her busy schedule as a renowned painter also prevents her from spending much time with Brishti.
Meanwhile, Brishti never overcomes the psychological impact of her parents’ separation which leads her to become a drug addict. I loved the book because it addresses a burning issue prevalent in our society today. Broken marriages have become a common phenomenon, but people rarely discuss the toll it takes on the children involved in such relationships. The novel reflects the struggles of a young girl who is devastated by the separation of her parents and her inner friction and pain.
Dahan: Dahan is one of the several novels written by Suchitra Bhattacharya that has been made into a movie. It addresses the most heinous crime committed by men against women, namely raping them. Romita and Polash are a newlywed couple whose life turns upside down when they are openly attacked and Romita is raped. A school-teacher Jhunik is the only person to come to the help of the couple. However, this is only the beginning of the struggles for both Romita and Polash. Romita has to face the humility of being raped again, this time by her husband. Polash’s apathy and the pressure of her conservative in-laws force her into depression. Jhunik also starts feeling pressured to give up her fight for justice for Romita.
However, despite facing these challenges, Romita and Jhunik do not give up. Sadly, they lose the legal battle and the culprits get a clean chit. The novel depicts the humiliation, anger, and injustice that most women who have been raped are forced to go through. It focuses on the narrowness of society, which treats such women as culprits rather than victims. This thought-provoking novel is a must-read for every female to understand the pain of rape victims and their supporters.
Awards And Accolades Suchitra Received
Suchitra was deemed an excellent writer and a top contributor to Bengali literature. She was bestowed with several awards and accolades for her work. A list of the awards she received is given below.
1. She received the Nanjanagudu Thirumalamba National Award in 1996.
2. In 1997, she became the recipient of the Katha Award.
3. She received the Tarashankar Award in the year 2000.
4. She received the Dwijendralal Award in 2001 from Kalyani.
5. She was felicitated with the Sharat Puroshkar in 2002.
6. She also won the Bharat Nirman Award and the Sahitya Setu Award.
7. In 2004 she won the Shailajananda Smriti Puroshkar, while Calcutta University presented her with the Bhuban Mohini Medal in the same year.
8. She received the Mati Nandy Award in 2012.
9. She also won the Dinesh Chandra Smriti Puroskar in 2015.
End Of an Era
The sudden demise of Suchitra Bhattacharya on 12th May 2015, due to cardiac arrest, left her fans and well-wishers devastated. For me, she has been a literary beacon of women’s rights and their indefinite struggles. I perceive her untimely death as a great loss for Indian literature, especially in a niche focused on creating awareness about women’s issues and the various challenges they face.
This post is part of the Bookish League blog hop hosted by Bohemian Bibliophile