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Krishan Chander: A Romantic Progressive

Suresh Kohli

By Krishan Chander
Hind Pocket Books, Delhi, pp 160, Rs. 135.00


Before getting into the complexities of analysing or assessing this occultly romantic yarn which self-confessedly was inspired by Russian Jewish writer Anskys (also An-sky, a pseudonym for Shloyme Zanvl Rappoport) play The Dybukk dealing with spirits, it is important to take into consideration the psychology of the novelist who through most part of his life struggled (successfully, though) to traverse the potholed path of narrative diversity that is latent between serious and the not-too-serious, the literary and the populist because this is the key to Krishan Chanders oeuvre which is considerable, and his ideology thats inherently contradictory. He has to his credit 20 novels, 30 collections of short stories, countless radio plays, and several travelogues.   For most part of his adult life Krishan Chander, who probably inherited his romantic moorings from the picturesque atmosphere of his youth, Poonch in Jammu & Kashmir because the region features in countless short stories, novellas and a major early popular novel Mitti ke Sanam (The Clay Lover), was associated with the Indian Left as a cardholder but never seemed to display the ideology in his writings unlike his contemporaries. His outlook and approach to his subjects always remained romantic, and humane. He was a born storyteller. But they were told in an unconventional, informal manner and not restricted by the regimen of form, style, or even technique. His narratives were always simple, straightforward and yet lyrical.   Krishan Chander was born in Lahore on 23 November 1914 which was then the hub of literary and cultural activity in undivided India. He reportedly stated in a confessional that Lahore is a place where I was born, where I was educated, where I started my literary career, where I achieved fame. For people of my generation it is difficult to forget Lahore. It shines in our heart like a jewel like the fragrance of our soul. He began by writing in English but soon switched over to Urdu. And although Lahore till the late 1930s (he moved to Delhi in the early forties and worked for All India Radio till Bombay and the film world beckoned) was his karmabhoomi, his grooming had been in the nearby Poonch where his father worked as a physician to the Maharaja.   Reflecting on this phase of his life, someone rightly observed: Kashmirs natural beauty and the grim poverty of its people left such a deep imprint on his creative psyche that Krishan Chander emerged as a ...

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