Amrita Pritam

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Amrita Pritam : biography

31 August 1919 – 31 October 2005

Amrita Pritam worked until 1961 in the Punjabi service of All India Radio, Delhi. After her divorce in 1960, her work became more clearly feminist. Many of her stories and poems drew on the unhappy experience of her marriage. A number of her works have been translated into English, French, Danish, Japanese and other languages from Punjabi and Urdu, including her autobiographical works Black Rose and Revenue Stamp (Raseedi Tikkat in Punjabi).

The first of Amrita Pritam’s books to be filmed was Dharti Sagar te Sippiyan, as ‘Kadambar’ (1965), followed by ‘Unah Di Kahani’, as Daaku (Dacoit, 1976), directed by Basu Bhattacharya. Her novel Pinjar (The Skeleton, 1970) was made into an award winning Hindi movie by Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, because of its humanism: "Amritaji has portrayed the suffering of people of both the countries." Pinjar was shot in a border region of Rajasthan and in Punjab.

She edited "Nagmani", a monthly literary magazine in Punjabi for several years, which she ran together with Imroz, for 33 years; though after Partition she wrote prolifically in Hindi as well. Later in life, she turned to Osho and wrote introductions for several books of Osho, including Ek Onkar Satnam, Sw. Chaitanya Keerti, sannyasworld.com. and also started writing on spiritual themes and dreams, producing works like Kaal Chetna (Time Consciousness) and Agyat Ka Nimantran (Call of the Unknown). Life Positive, April 1996. She had also published autobiographies, titled, Kala Gulab (Black Rose) (1968), Rasidi Ticket (The Revenue Stamp) (1976), and Aksharon kay Saayee (Shadows of Words). Women Writing in India: 600 B.C. to the Present, by Susie J. Tharu, Ke Lalita, published by Feminist Press, 1991. ISBN 1-55861-029-4. Page 160-163. Chowk, 15 May 2005.

Acclaim

Amrita is the first recipient of Punjab Rattan Award conferred upon her by Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh. She is first woman recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956 for Sunehey (Messages), Amrita Pritam received the Bhartiya Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary award, in 1982 for Kagaj te Canvas (Paper and Canvas). She received the Padma Shri (1969) and Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award, and Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, India’s highest literary award, also in 2004. She received D.Litt. honorary degrees, from many universities including, Delhi University (1973), Jabalpur University (1973) and Vishwa Bharati (1987) www.punjabilok.com.

She also received International Vaptsarov Award from the Republic of Bulgaria (1979) and Degree of Officer dens, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officier) by the French Government (1987). by Vijay Kumar Sunwani, Language in India, Volume 5 : 12 December 2005. She was nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha 1986–92. Towards the end of her life, she was awarded by Pakistan’s Punjabi Academy, to which she had remarked, Bade dino baad mere maike ko meri yaad aayi.. (My motherland has remembered me after a long time); and also Punjabi poets of Pakistan, sent her a chaddar, from the tombs of Waris Shah, and fellow Sufi mystic poets Bulle Shah and Sultan Bahu.

Legacy

In 2007, an audio album titled, ‘Amrita recited by Gulzar’ was released by noted lyricist Gulzar, with poems of Amrita Pritam recited by him, www.gulzaronline.com. Times of India, 7 May 2007. a film on her life is also on the anvil. realbollywood.com.

Biography

Background

Amrita Pritam was born as Amrita Kaur in 1919 in Gujranwala, Punjab, in present-day Pakistan, The Guardian, 4 November 2005. the only child of a school teacher, a poet and a scholar of Braj Bhasha, Kartar Singh Hitkari, who also edited a literary journal. Handbook of Twentieth-century Literatures of India, by Nalini Natarajan, Emmanuel Sampath Nelson, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996. ISBN 0-313-28778-3.Page 253-254. Besides this, he was a pracharak – a preacher of the Sikh faith. Amrita’s mother died when she was eleven. Soon after, she and her father moved to Lahore, where she lived till her migration to India in 1947. Confronting adult responsibilities, and besieged by loneliness following her mother’s death, she began to write at an early age. Her first anthology of poems, Amrit Lehran (Immortal Waves) was published in 1936, at age sixteen, the year she married Pritam Singh, an editor to whom she was engaged in early childhood, and changed her name from Amrita Kaur to Amrita Pritam. The Independent, 2 November 2005. Half a dozen collections of poems were to follow in as many years between 1936 and 1943.

Though she began her journey as romantic poet, soon she shifted gears, and became part of the Progressive Writers’ Movement and its effect was seen in her collection, Lok Peed (People’s Anguish) (1944), which openly criticized the war-torn economy, after the Bengal famine of 1943. She was also involved in social work to certain extent and participated in such activities wholeheartedly, after Independence when social activist Guru Radha Kishan took the initiative to bring the first Janta Library in Delhi, which was inaugurated by Balraj Sahni and Aruna Asaf Ali and contributed to the occasion accordingly. This study centre cum library is still running at Clock Tower, Delhi. She also worked at Lahore Radio Station for a while, before the partition of India Daily Times (Pakistan), 2 November 2005.

Renowned theatre person and the director of the immortal partition movie ‘Garam Hava’, MS Sathyu paid a theatrical tribute to her through the rare theatrical performance ‘Ek Thee Amrita’. Culled from her many writings this rare biographical docu-drama is produced by K K Kohli of Impresario Asia. Written by Danish Iqbal, who had earlier penned ‘Sahir’, this Play has memorable performances by well known actors like Lovleen Thadani, Mangat Ram, Vijay Nagyal, Kedar Sharma, and others.

Personal life

Upperstall.com Rasidi Ticket Amrita Imroz: A Love Story Tribune

She died in her sleep on 31 October 2005 at the age of 86 in New Delhi, after a long illness. She was survived by her partner Imroz, daughter Kandlla, son Navraj Kwatra, daughter-in-law Alka, and her grandchildren, Taurus, Noor, Aman and Shilpi. Navraj Kwatra was killed in 2012.