Amritlal Nagar (17 August 1916 – 23 February 1990) was one of the prominent Hindi writers of the twentieth century.
He started off as an author and journalist, but moved on to be an active writer in the Indian film industry for 7 years. He worked as a drama producer in All India Radio between December 1953 and May 1956. At this point he realised that a regular job would always be a hindrance to his literary life, so he devoted himself to freelance writing.
Often cited as the true literary heir of Premchand, Amritlal Nagar created his own independent and unique identity as a littérateur and is counted as one of the most important and multi-faceted creative writers of Indian literature. In the words of famous critic, Dr. Ram Bilas Sharma,"Undoubtedly, Amritlal Nagar will be remembered as an important novelist. For me, he is a very major sculptor of fiction. He has revealed the power of both standard [manak] Hindi, as well as the non-standard [ghair-manak] Hindi of the ordinary" (Sharma, Amritlal Nagar Rachnavali, Vol 1, p. 47).
Amritlal Nagar's real genius lay in the art of developing a range of characters in his stories and novels. Commenting on his distinctive ability to operationalise a story at many levels in complex and multi-dimensional ways, another prominent writer and critic of Hindi, Shreelal Shukla notes, "Rather than imposing his own personality on his character, Nagar ji dissolves himself in the character and in the process, he absorbs at the experiential level, all of those complexities that even the simplest characters nurture in the forms of anxieties and knotted puzzles. This work can only be done by a major creative writer" (Shukla, 10 Pratinidhi Kahaniyan: Amrilal Nagar, p. 10).
Nagar was born on 17 August 1916 in Chaurahe Wali Gali, Gokulpura, in a Gujarati Nagar Brahmin Family in Agra, India. He died on 23 February 1990 in Chowk, Lucknow, India. His parents were Rajaram and Vidyawati Nagar.
He first published a poem in the fortnightly Anand in December 1928. The poem was inspired by a protest against the Simon Commission in which Amritlal was suffered injury during lathi charge.
He married Pratibha (original name Savitri Devi alias Bitto) on 31 January 1932. They had four children (Late Kumud Nagar, Late Sharad Nagar, Dr. Achala Nagar and Smt. Aarti Pandya).
Nagar worked as a dispatch clerk in the Lucknow office of All India United Insurance Company for 18 days. He provided voluntary services to the publication division of the Nawal Kishore Press and the editorial office of Madhuri in 1939. From December 1953 to May 1956 he worked as a drama producer in Akashvani (All India Radio), Lucknow, but resigned from this position so that he could focus all of his time and attention to his literary pursuits.
From 1940 to 1947, Nagar wrote screen plays and dialogues for the film industry in Bombay (now Mumbai), Kolhapur, and Chennai (Madras). He was one of the early pioneers specialising in cinematic dubbing that involved the art of translating films of one language into another. He dubbed Naseeruddin in Buhkara and Zoya from Russian and M.S. Subbulakshmi's Meera from Tamil into Hindi.
Maanas ka Hans received the Akhil Bhartiya VeerSingh Dev Puraskarof the Government of Madhya Pradesh (1972), the Rajya Sahityik Puraskar of the Government of Uttar Pradesh (1973–1974), and the Shri RamKrishna Harjimal Daalmiya Puraskar (1978)
Amritlal Nagar was awarded the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar for distinguished services to the Hindi Theatre (1970–1971)
Amritlal Nagar was conferred the title of Sahitya Vaaridhiby the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Prayag (1972)
Amritlal Nagar was awarded Vishesh Samman on the occasion of the silver jubilee of Akashvani (All India Radio), Lucknow (1977)
Directed his own play, Partyaag. Staged on 25 September 1954 in Lucknow
Directed Skandgupt, 1949
Directed Indian People's Theatre Association's production Eidgaah (theatrical adaption by Razia Sajjad Zaheer of Munshi Premchand's story), 1953.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh filed a case against this production under the Drama Performance Act of 1876. In 1956 Justice Anandnarayan Mulla rejected the case on the grounds that it violated the right to expression granted by India's constitution and decided that the Drama Performance Act be declared null and void in independent India.
Directed his own play Yugavtar, based on the life of Bhartendu Harishchandra, for Rangvani, Allahabad. Staged on 23 September 1955.
Directed theatrical adaptation of Munshi Premchand's GODAN toassist with the construction of the building of Navyug Kanya Vidyalaya,Lucknow, 1956.
Directed Chetsingh, written by Sarvadananda and produced by Natraj, Lucknow. Staged on 22–23 August 1956.
Directed Rupiya Tumhe Kha Gaya written by Bhagwaticharan Varma andproduced by Bharti, Lucknow. Staged on 17 November 1958.
Directed his own play Nukkad Par for Akashvani (All India Radio),Lucknow. Staged on 8 December 1963.
Aao Bachchon Natak Likhen: A conversation about the art of creating plays. Published by Bal Natya Akademi, Lucknow. 1989 (Presented by Richa Nagar)
Key plays and comedies directed by Amritlal Nagar for radio broadcast
Discovered archaeological remains pertaining to ancient Lucknow
Translations of Amritlal Nagar's work in other languages
Boond Aur Samudra translated into Russian by India scholar V.Vekhukhlev and published in Moscow in 1962 as "Kaplya E Akiyan." The foreword for this translation of 653 pages was written by Professor Chelishev.
Boond Aur Samudra translated by the National Book Trust into Urdu,Punjabi, Marathi, Tamil, Bangla, Gujarati, Telugu, Asamese, Oriya, and Malayalam.
Suhaag Ke Noopur translated into Marathi, Kannada, and Oriya.
Amrit Aur Vish translated into Russian by Moscow's Hindi scholar,S. Trubnikova as "Naiktar E Yaad." This translation of 408 pages was published in Moscow in 1973.
Amrit Aur Vish translated by the Sahitya Akademi into Bangla, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telugu, and Urdu.
Manas Ka Hans translated into Gujarati, Marathi, and Oriya.
Nachyo Bahut Gopal translated into Oriya.
Bhookh translated into English as HUNGER.
Khanjan Nayan translated into Marathi.
Agni Garbha translated into Marathi.
Saat Ghoonghat Wala Mukhda translated into English as The Face Behind Seven Veils.
Children's novel Bajrangi Pahalwan translated into Nepali as Bajrangi Pahalwaan Ka Anotha Kaamharu.
Gadar Ke Phool translated into English as Gathering The Ashes by Mrinal Pande. It was published by published by Harper Collins in 2014.
Many stories written by Amritlal Nagar have been translated into Gujarati, Bangla, Marathi, Oriya, English, German, and Japanese.