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Anand Pandit’s heart-felt ode to the icons of Hindi literature

Anand Pandit about Regional cinema

On World Hindi Diwas, producer Anand Pandit discusses his favorite writers Dharamveer Bharti, Phanishwar Nath Renu, Munshi Premchand and Bhisham Sahni.

Producer Anand Pandit who is looking forward to the release of his big budget Marathi horror comedy ‘Victoria’ this year and is thrilled to be co-producing his first Kannada multistarrer ‘Kabzaa’ has one resolution for 2023; to catch up on his reading. He says, “I grew up at a time when electronic devices had not taken over our lives and there was time and space to read and absorb books at leisure. I still remember with great nostalgia, stories and novels by Dharamveer Bharti, Phanishwar Nath Renu, Munshi Premchand and Bhisham Sahni that were a part of my formative years. I hope to revisit them again and maybe film a few of them as they still mirror the social realities of our time.”

On World Hindi Day, Pandit shares his memories of the works of these stalwart writers and says, “One of my favourite stories by Phanishwar Nath Renu is ‘Maare Gaye Gulfam’ which was filmed as ‘Teesri Kasam’ in 1966 by Basu Bhattacharya. The story and the film so beautifully captured the doomed love between a bullock cart driver and a nautanki dancer. One common thing in the writers of that era was that they wrote rooted stories about India’s social realities. This film is such a classic for its writing, its authentic depiction of rural India and fabulous performances by Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman.”

As for Dharamveer Bharti, says Pandit, “Which Indian family did not have at least one copy of ‘Dharmayug’ in the 70s? He of course edited this gem of a literary magazine and his stories and novels inspired so many film-makers including Shyam Benegal in 1992 who filmed ‘Suraj Ka Satwan Goda’. His novel ‘Gunahon Ka Devta’ about two star crossed lovers Chander and Sudha is very close to my heart and was also translated in English a few years back. And his post-Partition play ‘Andha Yug’ transformed contemporary Hindi theatre forever.”

One of the writers Pandit has an emotional bond with is Munshi Premchand whose stories he says, carry the flavor of Hindustaniyat. Premchand who was equally proficient in Hindi and Urdu wrote many stories and novels that went on to inspire television and film adaptations like Satyajit Ray’s ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ and ‘Sadgati’. Pandit says, “He had so much compassion for the less privileged, such deep empathy for women and I remember watching a moving adaptation of his novel ‘Nirmala’ on Doordarshan. And our generation of course is familiar with powerful societal critiques like ‘Kafan’, ‘Sadgati’, ‘Gaban’, and also heart-warming tales like ‘Idgah’. ”

For Pandit, ‘Tamas’ penned by Bhisham Sahni is one of the seminal texts about Partition and he says, ” How fortunate we are to have so many writers who showed us how humanism could shape art and storytelling. They made us see the fine print of human experiences. Like many writers of that era, Bhisham ji was also a multilingual, multifaceted talent and occupied the perfect vantage point to record India’s journey through many epochs. I feel privileged that we have had such stalwarts amongst us whose works continue to inspire and enlighten us.”