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Savour these five classic short stories from the subcontinent all through May

five classic short stories

Here are a few evocative tales penned by Manto, Munshi Premchand and Tagore that will stir your emotions and enrich your mind

American author Edward Abbey defined good writing as a piece of work that not only has something to say but also says it well. A good short story is a rare creative achievement, because its brevity must encompass the depth and expanse of varied human experiences. We have curated five celebrated short stories from the subcontinent and these classic tales not only have evocative themes but are also written beautifully.

‘Gulli Danda’ by Munshi Premchand

The story begins when the narrator returns to his village after becoming a successful engineer. He runs into Daya, a childhood friend and the two relive the past as they play a game of Gulli Danda. Gaya was once a champion of the game and the two friends try their best to beat each other once again. Gaya loses the match but the narrator finds something amiss in his victory. He realises that despite his lack of world success, Gaya is a bigger person and has allowed him to win. Directed by Seema Pahwa, the story is a part of Zee Theatre’s anthology ‘Koi Baat Chale’ and is narrated by Vivaan Shah. It can be watched on 12th May on Dish TV Rangmanch Active, D2H Rangmanch Active and Airtel Spotlight.

‘Mammad Bhai’ by Saadat Hasan Manto

Manto was an astute observer of human nature and drew from everyday experiences to paint compelling stories. This one is about a charismatic gangster with almost cinematic charm who takes great pride in his flourishing moustache and dagger. One day however, a twist of fate lands him in a situation where he has to part with both of his cherished possessions. How he deals with this loss makes for an absorbing watch. Directed by Seema Pahwa and narrated by Vineet Kumar, this short story is part of Zee Theatre’s ‘Jhatpat Kahaniyon ka Sunday’ special and can be watched on 19th May on Tata Play Theatre.

‘Idgah’ by Munshi Premchand

One of the most loved stories by Munshi Premchand, ‘Idgah’ is about a four-year-old orphan Hamid, who wants to gift something special to his grandmother Amina on Eid. Amina is raising him amid great hardships and does not even disclose to him that his parents have passed on. A naive Hamid innocently worries about her because she toils endlessly and does not even have a pair of tongs in the kitchen to protect her hands. Will Hamid be able to find the perfect gift for her on Eid? Find out what happens next in this Seema Pahwa directorial. The story is narrated by Vinay Pathak and can be watched on 12th May on Tata Play Theatre.

‘Toba Tek Singh’ by Saadat Hasan Manto

This story is also a part of the anthology ‘Koi Baat Chale’ and features in Zee Theatre’s ‘Jhatpat Kahaniyon ka Sunday’ special. It revisits the horrors and dehumanisation that millions of Indians experienced during Partition. Set two or three years after 1947, it narrates the tragedy of Bishan Singh, a Sikh inmate of an asylum in Lahore who is caught in the crosshairs of the politics between the governments of India and Pakistan when they decide to exchange Muslim, Sikh and Hindu lunatics. Bishan Singh is fixated upon returning to his home in Toba Tek Singh and on realising that it is now in Pakistan, he refuses to leave. Directed by: Seema Pahwa, the poignant story is narrated by Manoj Pahwa. Watch it on 26th May on Tata Play Theatre.

‘Kabuliwala’ by Rabindranath Tagore

Immortalised by Balraj Sahni and Chhabi Biswas in Hindi and Bengali cinematic adaptations, this immortal story by Rabindranath Tagore is now also available as a short film in Anurag Basu’s anthology, ‘Stories by Rabindranath Tagore.’ Written by Tagore in 1892, the story is about Rehmat, a Pashtun fruit seller from Kabul, Afghanistan, who visits Calcutta (present day Kolkata) each year to sell dry fruits. He misses his home deeply and develops a strong bond with a five-year-old girl, Mini, who reminds him of his own daughter. However, a tragedy changes the course of his life and he is incarcerated for many years. Will he be able to meet his daughter? Find out more in this moving Tani Basu directorial which stars Mushtaq Kak, Swachata Sanjiban Guha, Amrita Mukherjee and Bobby Parvez. It is available on Prime Video.