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Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay (23 July 1898 – 14 September 1971) was one of the leading Bengali novelists. He wrote 65 novels, 53-story-books, 12 plays, 4 essay-books, 4 autobiographies and 2 travel stories. He directed one Bengali feature film (Amrapali) in 1959. He was awarded Rabindra Puraskar, Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.
Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay was married to Umashashi Devi in 1916. Their eldest son Sanatkumar Bandyopadhyay was born in 1918; the youngest son Saritkumar Bandyopadhyay was born in 1922; the eldest daughter Ganga was born in 1924; the second daughter Bulu was born in 1926 but died in 1932; the youngest daughter Bani was born in 1932.
Bandyopadhyay was born at his ancestral home at Labhpur village in Birbhum district, Bengal Province, British India (now Paschimbanga, India) to Haridas Bandyopadhyay and Prabhabati Devi.
He passed the Matriculation examination from Labhpur Jadablal H. E. School in 1916 and was later admitted first to St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta and then to South Suburban College (now Asutosh College). While studying in intermediate at St. Xavier’s College, he joined the non-co-operation movement. He could not complete his university course due to ill health and political activism.
He was arrested in 1930 for actively supporting the Indian independence movement, but released later that year. After that he decided to devote himself to literature. In 1932, he met Rabindranath Tagore at Santiniketan for the first time. His first novel Chaitali Ghurni was published on the same year.
In 1940, he rented a house at Bagbazar and brought his family to Calcutta. In 1941, he moved to Baranagar. In 1942, he presided over the Birbhum District Literature Conference and became the president of the Anti-Fascist Writers and Artists Association in Bengal. In 1944, he presided over the Kanpur Bengali Literature Conference arranged by the non-resident Bengalis living there. In 1947, he inaugurated Prabasi Banga Sahitya Sammelan held in Calcutta; presided over the Silver Jubilee Prabasi Banga Sahitya Sammelan in Bombay; and received Sarat Memorial Medal from the University of Calcutta. In 1948, he moved to his own house at Tala Park, Calcutta.
In 1952, he was nominated to be a member of the legislative assembly. He was a member of the West Bengal Vidhan Parishad between 1952–60. In 1954, he took Diksha from his mother. In 1955, he was awarded the Rabindra Puraskar by the Government of West Bengal. In 1956, he received the Sahitya Akademi Award. In 1957 he visited Soviet Union to join the preparatory committee of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association and later went to Tashkent at an invitation from the Chinese Government as the leader of the Indian Writers delegation at the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association.
In 1959, he received the Jagattarini Gold Medal from the University of Calcutta, and presided over All India Writer’s Conference in Madras. In 1960, he retired from the West Bengal Legislative Assembly but was nominated to the Parliament by the President of India. He was a member of Rajya Sabha between 1960–66. In 1962, he received Padma Shri; but the death of his son-in-law broke his heart and to keep himself diverted he took to painting and making wooden toys. In 1963, he received Sisirkumar Award. In 1966, he retired from the Parliament and presided over Nagpur Bengali Literature Conference. In 1966, he won the Jnanpith Award and in 1969, he received Padma Bhushan and was honoured with the title of Doctor of Literature by the University of Calcutta and the Jadavpur University. In 1969, he was given the fellowship of Sahitya Akademi, in 1970 became the president of Bangiya Sahitya Parishad/Vangiya Sahitya Parishad. In 1971, he gave the Nripendrachandra Memorial Lecture at Visva-Bharati University and D. L. Roy Memorial Lecture at the University of Calcutta.
Bandyopadhyay died at his Calcutta residence early in the morning on 14 September 1971. His last rites were performed at the Nimtala Cremation Ground, North Calcutta
The realism in Literature is well substituted when the writers indulge in introducing romance in it. Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay is grouped with those writers of the third decades of the twentieth centuries who broke the poetic tradition in novels but took to writing prose with the world around them adding romance to human relationship breaking the indifference of the so-called conservative people of the society who dare to call a spade a spade. Tarasankar’s novels, so to say, do not look back to the realism in rejection, but accepted it in a new way allowing the reader to breathe the truth of human relationship restricted so far by the conservative and hypocrisy of the then society.
He learned to see the world from various angles. He seldom rose above the matter soil and his Birbhum exists only in time and place. He had never been a worshipper of eternity. Tarasankar’s chief contribution to Bengal literature is that he dared writing unbiased. He wrote what he believed. He wrote what he observed.
His novels are rich in material and potentials. He preferred sensation to thought. He was ceaselessly productive and his novels are long, seemed unending and characters belonged to the various classes of people from zaminder down to pauper. Tarasankar experimented in his novels with the relationships, even so called illegal, of either sexes. He proved that sexual relation between man and women sometimes dominate to such an extent that it can take an upperhand over the prevailing laws and instructions of society. His novel ‘Radha’ can be set for an example in this context.
His historical novel Ganna Begum is an attempt worth mentioning for its traditional values. Tarasankar ventured into all walks of Bengali life and its experience with the happenings of socio-political milieu. Tarasankar will be remembered for his potential to work with the vast panorama of life where life is observed with care and the judgment is offered to the reader. and long ones, then any other author. He is a region novelist, his country being the same Birbhum.
1955 – Rabindra Puraskar for his novel Arogya Niketan 1956 – Sahitya Akademi Award 1966 – Jnanpith Award for his novel Ganadebata. 1962 – Padma Shri 1969 –Padma Bhushan.