Sunil Gangopadhyay

Sunil Gangopadhyay bigraphy, stories - Indian Bengali language writer

Sunil Gangopadhyay : biography

7 September 1934 – 23 October 2012

Sunil Gangopadhyay or Sunil Ganguly ( Shunil Gônggopaddhae), (7 September 1934 – 23 October 2012) was an Indian poet and novelist. Born in Faridpur, Bangladesh, Gangopadhyay obtained his Master’s degree in Bengali from the University of Calcutta, In 1953 he with few of his friends started a Bengali poetry magazine Krittibas. Later he wrote for many different publications.

Ganguly created the Bengali fictional character Kakababu and wrote a series of novels on this character which became significant in Indian children’s literature. He received Sahitya Akademi award in 1985 for his novel Those Days (Sei Samaya). Gangopadhyay used the pen names Nil Lohit, Sanatan Pathak, and Nil Upadhyay.


Author of well over 200 books, Sunil was a prolific writer who has excelled in different genres but declares poetry to be his "first love". His Nikhilesh and Neera series of poems (some of which have been translated as For You, Neera and Murmur in the Woods) have been extremely popular.

As in poetry, Sunil was known for his unique style in prose. His first novel was Atmaprakash and it was also the first writing from a new comer in literature published in the prestigious magazine- Desh (1965). It was critically acclaimed but some controversy arose for its aggressive and ‘obscene’ style. Sunil said that he was afraid of this novel and went away from Calcutta for a few days. Satyajit Ray thought to make a film on it but it wasn’t possible for reasons. The central character of ‘Atmaprakash’ is a young man of core-calcutta’- Sunil, who leads a bohemian life-style. The novel had inspiration from ‘ On the road’ by Jack Kerouac, the beat generation writer. His historical fiction Sei Somoy (translated into English by Aruna Chakravorty as Those Days) received the Indian Sahitya Akademi award in 1985. Sei Somoy continues to be a best seller more than two decade after its first publication. The same is true for Prathama Alo (also translated recently by Aruna Chakravorty as First Light), another best selling historical fiction and Purbo-Paschim, a raw depiction of the partition and its aftermath seen through the eyes of three generations of Bengalis in West Bengal, Bangladesh and elsewhere. He is also the winner of the Bankim Puraskar (1982), and the Ananda Puraskar (twice, in 1972 and 1989). Sunil wrote in many other genres including travelogues, children’s fiction, short stories, features, and essays. Among his pen-names are: Nil Lohit, Sanatan Pathak, and Nil Upadhyay.

Though he wrote all types of children’s fiction, one character created by him that stands out above the rest, was Kakababu, the crippled adventurist, accompanied by his young adult nephew Santu, and his friend Jojo. Since 1974, Sunil Gangopadhyay wrote over 35 novels of this popular series, most of which appeared in Anandamela magazine.

Film based on his literary works

  • Satyajit Ray made two films Pratidwandi and Aranyer Din Ratri based on the works of Ganguly.
  • One of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s cult poems, Smritir Shohor has been turned into a song for the film Iti Mrinalini (2011) directed by Aparna Sen.
  • Four of his Kakababu series novels have been adapted into big screen—
    • Sabuj Dwiper Raja (1979) directed by Tapan Sinha
    • Kakababu Here Gelen? (1996) directed by Pinaki Chaudhuri
    • Ek Tukro Chand (2003) directed by Pinaki Caudhuri
    • Mishor Rahasya (2013) directed by Srijit Mukherji
  • Shyamaprasad adapted his novel ‘Hirek Deepti’ as Malayalam feature ‘Ore Kadal’ in 2007, and his novel ‘Megh Brishti Alo’ short story into the 2012 Malayalam film Arike
  • The movie Hothat Nirar Jonyo (2004), is based on Sunil’s short story Rani O Abinash.
  • The movie Aparajita Tumi (2012), directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, is based on Sunil’s novel Dui Nari Hate Tarbari.