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Remembering Amrita Pritam on the poet’s 99th birth anniversary

Amrita moved from Lahore to India during the Partition, although she remained popular in both countries. In 1956, Pritam became the first woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Sunehade’ (Messages).

books Updated: Aug 31, 2018 08:55 IST
Kabir Bhandari
Kabir Bhandari
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Amrita Pritam,Amrita Pritam poems,Amrita Pritam quotes
‘Pinjar’ (The Cage, written in 1950) was Amrita Pritam’s most famous novel. It was adapted into a movie in 2003.(HT File)

Amrita Pritam (August 31, 1919 – October 31, 2005) was a littérateur who was considered as the first significant Punjabi poet and novelist of the 20th century. In her career spanning 60 years, she wrote around 100 books on poetry, essays, folk songs and even an autobiography.

Her most famous poem was ‘Ajj aakhaan Waris Shah nu’ (Today I invoke Waris Shah), dedicated to the 18th century poet, in which she expresses her torment over the killings that took place during the Partition of 1947.

‘Pinjar’ (The Cage, written in 1950) was her most famous novel. It was adapted into a movie in 2003.

Amrita moved from Lahore to India during the Partition, although she remained popular in both countries. In 1956, Pritam became the first woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Sunehade’ (Messages), and – in 1982 – she received the Bharatiya Jnanpith, one of India’s most prestigious literary awards for ‘Kagaz Te Canvas’ (The Paper and the Canvas). She received the Padma Shri in 1969 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2004.

It was in 1935 that she married Pritam Singh, whom she left in 1960. It’s also said that she was very fond of the poet Sahir Ludhianvi. This chapter of her life is written about in her autobiography ‘Rasidi Ticket’ (Revenue Stamp). However, Amrita spent the last 40 years of her life with writer-artist Imroz. Their life eventually became the subject of a book called ‘Amrita Imroz: A Love Story’.

Amrita passed away in her sleep on October 31, 2005, aged 86 in Delhi. She left behind Imroz, daughter Kandala, son Navraj Kwatra, daughter-in-law Alka, and her grandchildren, Taurus, Noor, Aman and Shilpi. Navraj Kwatra died in 2012.

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First Published: Aug 31, 2018 08:53 IST