Manik Bandopadhyay | The Black Diamond Of Bengali Literature

Manik Bandopadhyay

Owing to his dark complexion, Manik was known to his family members as Kala Manik (kala manik), or simply manik. Bandopadhyay was born on 19 May 1908 in Dumka, a small town in Santal Parganas district in the state of Bihar in British India. His real name was Prabodh Kumar Bandopadhyay. His ancestral home was Bikrampur, in Dhaka district (present-day Bangladesh). He was the fifth of the fourteen children of his parents, Harihar Bandopadhyay and Niroda Devi. Harihar Bandopadhyay was a sub register who was posted in different parts of Bengal. This gave manik to experience life and living of people in different parts of Bengal in his early life.

Once while he was with his friends in their college canteen, one of them asked him if he could publish a story in the magazine Bichitra. The would-be novelist replied that his first story would be good enough for the perpouse. At that time, Bichitra was a leading periodical which carried stories only by eminent authors. Manik walked into the office of the periodical and dropped the story Atasi Mami (Aunt Atasi) in their letter box. At the end of the story he signed off as Manik Bandopadhyay. After four months, publication of the story (in 1928) created sensation in the literary circles of Bengal and, from then on, the pen name stuck.

Manik carefully read Marx and Engels and became a Marxist. He became an active polition of Marxism by joining the Communist Party of India in 1944. In his writtings there is no fault of insanity, no repetition, the story format is unique everywhere he chooses the subject. Instead of resorting to the easy way to popularise the cheap twist of romance, he focused his gracious eyes on the real deprived head. The task was not easy at all, not easy yet today, but with unequal courage.

During a lifespan of 48 years, plagued simultaneously by illness and financial crisis, he produced 36 novels and nearly 250 short stories. His notable works include Padma Nadir Majhi (The Boatman on The River Padma,1936), Putul Nacher Itikatha (The Puppet’s Tale,1936), Shartali (Suburbia, 1941) and Chatushkone (The Quadrilateral,1948).

On 2nd December 1956, he was admitted to the Nilratan Government Hospital. On 3rd december, he collapsed and went into a coma.

 Manik Bandopadhyay ia regarded as one of the major figures of 20th century Bengali literature. To me, Manik is the best Novelist in Bengali Language; the black diamond of Bengali literature.