Google is today celebrating courageous Indian Urdu language writer Ismat Chughtai’s 107th birthday. The outspoken Urdu author was known for championing free speech, social liberation, and gender equality through her writing.
Chughtai was raised in a Muslim household. Her best-known works questioned double standards and encouraged liberation. The famous short story of Chugtai, Lihaf (The Quilt), narrates a neglected voice of a young girl who strikes up a romantic relationship with her masseuse. The story was viewed as controversial given its portrayal of a relationship between an upper class woman and her servant. Another famous story of Chugtai, Gainda (Marigold), was controversial too. The story depicted the tale of a domestic worker who falls in love outside the caste system.
She published several works and spoke out against conventions of society. She even wrote the screenplay for legendary Dev Anand’s film Ziddi in 1948. The movie story was based on one of her short stories. Later in 1953, she also directed Faraib. She also produced and co-written Nutan’s Sone Ki Chidiya in 1958.
Chugtai was born on August 21, 1911. There is some confusion over her birth date as most published reports cite her birth date being four years later in 1915. She was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh. The ninth of 10 children, Chughtai began writing at an early age. Her father was a civil servant, but her writing inspiration was her elder brother Mirza Azim Beg Chughtai, a novelist known for his playful humorous works.
“In the 1930s, Chughtai attended a meeting of the Progressive Writers Association and became interested in using her talents to advocate for human rights,” notes Google Doodle blog.
Chughtai was awarded ‘Padma Shri’ in 1976 by the Government of India for her literary accomplishments, and her fearless dedication to her beliefs.