THERE IS a manuscript of a synopsis, which testifies that Munshi Premchand conceived his novels and short stories in English and not in Hindi. There is a bank account statement, which exemplifies that Premchand was not a poor man. There is a letter written by a publisher showing that Premchand was given a good royalty even at that time.
These and some other interesting but unknown facets about the legendary storywriter Premchand have been beautifully captured at an exhibition in Bharat Bhavan.
Dr Kamal Kishore Goyanka, who has exhibited his collection, says: “After completing my Ph.D on Premchand in 1972, I discovered that people don’t know many things about him. I found more than 2,000 documents and letters and these gave me an idea that there were many aspects about Premchand, which were not known.”
Dr Goyanka, a retired professor of Delhi University, is currently a Bharat Bhavan trustee. “During my 25 years of work on Premchand, I wrote more than 20 books on him, including an 1,500 paged Unknown Literature of Premchand and five volumes of his biography,” he says. One of the five biographies has been exhibited at the exhibition.
A document of Benaras Bank, which is exhibited, shows that Premchand had Rs 4,471 in his account just 14 days prior to his death. “This shows that he was not poor but was a middle class person who consistently fought for his own uplift.”. In 1925, when Rangbhoomi was published, he got Rs 1,800 as an advance royalty.
The most interesting facet, which a few people know is that Premchand conceived his novels and short stories in English and then wrote in either Hindi or Urdu, Dr Goyanka says.
The manuscript of Godan exhibited in a ‘good-condition’ reflects Premchand’s prowess in English. The other highlights of the exhibition are the letters written by Premchand and to Premchand, including a proposal made to him to write a story for a film.
There is an agreement form with a publisher that shows that the writer was demanding 20 per cent royalty even at that time. There is a money order seal that shows that got Rs 15 for a short story from an Urdu magazine, a receipt of an Insurance Policy.
The sole copy of Soze Vatan, a book on patriotic stories, has also been placed at the exhibition. And lastly, there is also a letter written by Acharya Narendra Dev to Premchand requesting him to translate Jawaharlal Nehru’s book ——‘Letters to a Daughter’ in Hindi.