Prem Utsav - Munshi Premchand Festival
Writer :  Munshi Premchand

Prem Utsav - Munshi Premchand Festival

By MTG editorial

Two friends of childhood times who used to play Gilli Danda together... One of them is an engineer and a top government officer now and twenty years later visits the same village where the other one "gayaa chamaar" is a servant of another government official.. It highlights socio-economic differences as well as the childhood innocence which is beyond any such discrepancies in the social system..

Eid gaha is a very touching story of a poor orphan boy named Hamid, who lives with his grandmother. He has very little money to spend on Eid He goes to a fair along with his friends, who spend more money in buying candy, toys etc. He has very little money, but remembers his grandmother whose hands burn when she makes rotis over a fire in a clay oven. She has no tongs (chimta) to flip the rotis over the fire in the oven. Upon return, his grandmother is very much touched with this gesture.

In Kafan (Shroud), a poor man collects money for the funeral rites of his dead wife, but spends it on food and drink.

An old woman trusts a Munshi and deposits her savings with him, when she leaves for a pilgrimage. On returning she goes to collect her money but Munshiji denies her having kept any money with him. The old woman protests against him and then dies. But as she was disheartened before dying, Munshiji's family gets destroyed to rags. People believe it is the woman's curse.

This plays depicts the relationship between a husband and a wife. The husband is a simple and sober man, who is easily bullied by anyone. The wife has grievances of her married life which she keeps telling the audience but in the end admits of her love for her husband who too is loving and caring.

Munshiji was always in favour of national integration, brotherhood and unity.He respected all religions and through his stories promoted the message of equality and love. Whenever riots took place in the name of caste or religion, he would be hurt and upset. Through this story he has advocated that religion is not a weapon but it promotes human values. He slaps all the religious fundamentalists through this play.

This story is about a boy who steals a rupee from his mother's cupboard. At that time a rupee was very valuable. Stealing the rupee was easy but spending the money was challenging. The play revolves around how the boy along with his cousin thinks of ways to spend the money and the consequences they face when their theft is brought to light.

Munshiji had a great sense of humour too. This is proved by his comedy play. 'Sampadak Moteram Shastri' wherein Pandit Moteram becomes a popular writer in a short span but the truth is revealed when his friend Chintamani pays him a visit and begins to enquire as to how he became rich and famous. He is helped by Panditji's wife in finding the truth.

This play brings out the caste system and the exploitation of the poor by the rich zamindars. The low caste people were not permitted to draw water from the well that was dug by the Thakur. Jokshu's wife fetches water from the Thakur's well for her sick husband not knowing that it is poisoned and thus her husband dies.

It is true that a woman makes and breaks a home. A greedy wife forces her honest and hardworking husband to do illegal work in order to increase their income.Initially he refuses but her constant nagging forces him to do as she pleases. In the process he lands up in trouble. This makes the wife realize that little money earned through honest means brings more happiness than lots of money earned through dishonest manner. It is a story of the 'banjara' community

Munshiji's stories spoke about every relationship viz. teacher-student, husband-wife, mother-son, relationship among the siblings etc. This story speaks about a dominant husband who does not permit his wife to do anything as per her wish. Fed up with his autocratic attitude his wife decides to teach him a lesson. She makes up her mind to quit all her domestic chores unless her husband changes his view on women. Finally her husband is forced to admit that women are in no way inferior to men.

'Qatil' is about the agony of a mother who looses her son in the struggle against the Bitish in pre-independent India.

Miss Padma, a lawyer has a live-in relationship with a professor, with whom she gradually falls in love. But the professor cheats her and absconds with her jewellery and money. A story on live-in relationship which was written in 1914.

This story is about two couples who are unhappy with their married lives. The couples meet and one of the wives realizes that the other woman's husband is more compatible with her. She continues to meet him. One day she tells him to leave his wife and elope with her so that they can be happy forever. But the man refuses to oblige. He in turn speaks to her husband and requests him to take back his wife. Having sent the other woman to her husband, he returns home to his wife and decides to live happily with her.

Kokila, who is prostitute by profession wishes her daughter to settle down and lead a happy married life. But society does not accept a prostitute's daughter as a daughter-in-law.

Another story of an extra-marital affair,but with a different approach.

Munshiji's story 'Bodh' deals with the life of a teacher. Chandradhar, a teacher was not happy with his profession.He curses himself for being one but at one point in his life he realises that teaching is a noble profession.

This is a story of a Sukhu Chowdhari who is abandoned by his sons when he loses his wealth.Unable to pay his debt he is forced to auction his ancestral home. But his only daughter Gangajali requests him to personally meet Jhakkad Shah and offer him her ornaments and encash it to pay off the debt. It is a belief among the Hindus that the ornaments are a daughter's wealth and should not be used by her father under any circumstances. Jhakkad Shah refuses to take the ornaments and offers him money to pay off his debt saying that he may return the amount at any time convenient to him.

Bechu is an honest washerman of the village. He is a man of principles who does not do any illegal work to become rich. Time passes they become rich and wealth brings along certain bad habits too. But in the end he realizes that he was much happier and respected when he was poor and a man of principles.

This is a story of a woman who dominated the scene in the presence of her husband. But after her husband deceased her four sons who were once obedient defy her. The ill treatment of her sons and daughter-in-law increase and one fine day when she goes to the tank to draw water, slips and dies by drowning.

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