(The author is a top ranking critic expert
on Prem Chand Studies, worked as Professor & Head P.G. Deptt of Urdu, University
of Delhi, Author, writer, Poet, Intellectual, Journalist, Recient of many
My first meeting with Dr. Brij Premi took
place forty years back when the noted man of letters was in his prime, full of
vigour and vibrance. Intellectually, he was associated with the progressive
movement that had influenced the younger generation of writers. His main
pre-occupation at that time was a study and appraisal of the classical and folk
traditions of Kashmiri literature. We had long sessions of interaction on the
problems of aesthetics as related to Art and Literature in general and that of
Kashmir in particular. It was for the first time that I got a feel of the
enchanting verses of Lal Ded through Premiís renderings into Urdu language.
truest tradition of the progressive movement, Premi along with many other
intellectuals could appreciate and analyse the diverse and colourful aspects of
the colourful heritage of
A critical appraisal of this facet of the rich tradition is to be found in
Premiís writings. I have no hesitation in pointing out that Premi is next
only to late Abdul Ahad Azad in the matter of service to Kashmiri language and
Incidentally, that was the period when Premi was pre-occupied with his research
work connected with his Ph.D thesis on Saadat Hasan Manto. My suggestions that
he should undertake a comparative study of Persian, Kashmiri and Urdu poetry
elicited immediate approval but Premi had to express his inability to take it up
as he was already committed to his work on Manto. His choice was perhaps
dictated by the fact that Manto was proud of his Kashmiri background as also of
an intimate relationship with Kashmiri cultural heritage that was dear to him.
The thesis that Premi produced after putting in his best in terms of research
and analytical faculty did not win the favour of the authorities that be because
of their indifference, resulting in an inordinate delay in awarding the degree
which he deserved without a shadow of doubt. It was a disappointing experience
for Premi although his book on Manto's multifaceted achievements in the field
of artistic accomplishment was used freely and unabashedly by some quarters in
the subcontinent without even acknowledging the source. In certain cases it was
almost plagiarism of the worst type indicating dishonesty and ingratitude.
was temperamentally a blend of simplicity, uprightness and straight-forwardness.
Silent and unostentatious by nature, he did not believe in exhibitionism as is
wont with people who know the art of psychofancy. Here was a man who believed in
self-denial although he had the capacity to demonstrate his faculties. All the
time he concentrated on productive work, writing articles on Kashmiri Art and
Culture besides very useful write-ups on the growth of Urdu language and
literature in the state. All these invaluable collections have been edited and
published by his son Premi Romani.
long literary voyage, Premi's research on Manto continued unabated. In this
context 'Manto Katha' stands out as an important milestone. It is
remarkable that the collection was the result of untiring efforts made by the
author in the matter of procurement of material from different sources. I was
consulted in unraveling some of the mysteries regarding a few papers which
called for thorough analysis.
universally recognised that producing a thesis for a doctorate has a limited
frame but to write a critical paper on the subject calls for a subtler study as
it involves an in-depth analysis of the influences that might have shaped the
artistic genius of the personage under scrutiny.
To write on
Manto made it imperative to depend on the sources that had left an everlasting
impact on the mind and critical faculties of the writer. Dr Premi was conscious
of his inability to trace out all the necessary material regarding the literary
achievements of Manto in the fields of novel, films, letters and translations.
The material collected by Premi has found very useful and meaningful utility at
the hands of his son, Dr Romani, who has authored a publication on the basis of
available facts. The first paper relates to the ancestor of the writer based
on priceless findings and evidences collected and filed by Dr. Premi. In his
outstanding write-up 'Manto and
Dr. Premi has referred to sources indicating the humble beginnings of the
writer. Bari Alig, who happened to be the mentor of Manto, is portrayed as one
possessing a colourful personality although nobody had ever before taken the
trouble of writing on him. Premi drew his conclusions after a thorough study of
the life and contribution of the all-embracing personality of Bari Alig, as
described by Manto himself. Similarly Premi has provided very useful and
profound information about Mantoís association with the film industry as a
script writer. It is to be noted with satisfaction that Premi has analysed at
great length the influence of Russian short story on the literary
accomplishments of Manto.
culmination of the book is in the form of a bunch of letters written by the
readers and critics. The book is the very epitome of all that is brilliant in
Premiís prose style as also his vision, simplicity and analytical faculty. He
had a clear mind without any cobwebs of confusion in terms of critical faculties
and his only aim was to discover the truth. It is tragic that this promising
intellectual, a writer and a critic, was snatched from us by the cruel hand of
is gratifying that his son, a scholar in his own right, has carried forward the
torch successfully, notwithstanding the unfavourable situation created by the
unfortunate displacement in 1990.
from the original Urdu text by Prof. H.L. Misri)