Amrita Pritam Biography, Writer, Poems & Books – Wiki

There are several reputed and famous writers in India, out of which the name of Amrita Pritam is often heard. She was an Indian novelist, poet, and essayist who primarily wrote in Hindi and Punjabi. Considered to be the first prominent Punjabi poet, essayist, and novelist, Amrita also happened to be the leading Punjabi poet of the 20th century. She is loved and respected in both Indian and Pakistan. Her writing career lasted for a time span of around 6 decades or 60 years during which she wrote almost 100 odd books of fiction, poetry, essays, biographies, and a collection of Punjabi folk songs. She has also written her own autobiography that got translated to different foreign and Indian languages.

Amrita Pritam Background

Born as Amrita Kaur on the 31st of August, 1919 in Gujranwala, Punjab, she was the only child of Raj Bibi who used to work as a school teacher. Her father, Kartar Singh Hitkari, was a scholar of Brij Bhasha and also a poet. Kartar was also a preacher of the Sikh faith. Amrita’s mother passed away when she was barely 11 years old. She soon shifted base to Lahore with her father until she finally migrated to India in the year 1947.

In India, she had to do various adult responsibilities and she often used to feel lonely after the death of her mother. This made her start writing from a very young age. Her first published collection of poems was Amrit Lehren that got published in the year 1936 when she was barely 16 years old. She also married Pritam Singh, who was an editor and who was engaged to Amrita from early childhood. She finally changed her name to Amrita Pritam after her marriage.

Although she started her career as a romantic poet, Amrita soon changed her path and became a part of the Progressive Writers’ Movement. The effects of the movement was reflected in her collection that she named as Lok Peed in the year 1944. The collection openly criticized the war-torn economy of the country after the Bengal famine in the year 1943.

Partition of British India

After the partition of British India, around 1 million Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims lost their lives due to communal riots in the year 1947. Amrita became a refugee at the age of 28 years when she moved into Delhi from Lahore. She got pregnant in the year 1948 and while traveling from Dehradun to Delhi during that time, Amrita wrote about her anguish on paper in the form of a poem. The name of the poem was Ajj akhaan Waris Shah nu, which later made her immortal as a poet and also proved as the most poignant reminder of the brutalities of the Partition. The poem was written to Waris Shah, who was a Sufi poet and with whom Amrita also shared her birthplace.

She worked in the Punjabi service of All India Radio till the year 1961. Amrita got divorced in 1960 after which her work turn more feminist. Most of her poems and stories portrayed the unhappy experience of her married life. Several of her writings got translated into several languages such as Danish, French, English, Mandarin, and Japanese, to name a few. This also included her autobiographical writing that were named as Rasidi Ticket and Black Rose.

Amongst Amrita’s several books, the first that got filmed was Dharti Sagar te Sippiyan and the name of the movie was Kadambari in the year 1965. Her other writings that also got filmed include Unah Di Kahani into the movie Daaku in the year 1976 and Pinjar. The latter basically talks about the partition riots, as well as, the crisis of women during those times. The movie was made by Chandra Prakash Dwivedi that later won several awards. The movie was shot in the border region of Punjab and Rajasthan.

Amrita Pritam Acclaim

Amrita Pritam was the first recipient of the Punjab Rattan Award, which was awarded by the Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh. She also happens to be the first woman recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in the year 1956 for her poetic writings called Sunehadey. In the year 1982, Amrita went on to receive the Bhartiya Jnanpith Award, which is the highest literary award in India for her work Kagaj te Canvas. Other prestigious awards that Amrita received during her lifetime included Padma Shri in the year 1969 and Padma Vibhushan and Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in the year 2004. Several universities also granted her D. Litt honorary degrees such as the Delhi University, Vishwa Bharati, and Jabalpur University.

Amrita Pritam Works

Some of the novels written by Amrita Pritam include Pinjar, Doctor Dev, Kore Kagaz, Uchas Din, Dharti Sagar Aur Seepian, Rang ka Patta, Dilli ki Galiyan, Terahwan Suraj, Yaatri, Jilavatan, and Hardatt Ka Zindaginama.

Her autobiographies include Black Rose, Rasidi Ticket, and Shadows of Words. Amrita has also written some short stories such as Kahaniyan jo Kahaniyan Nahi, Kahaniyon Ke Angan Mein, Stench of Kerosene. She has written a whole lot of poetry anthologies, such as Amrit Lehran, Jiunda Jiwan, Trel Dhote Phul, O Gitan Valia, Badlam De Laali, Sanjh de Laali, Lok Peera, Pathar Geetey, Punjab Di Aawaaz, Sunehade, AShoka Cheti, Kasturi, Nagmani, Ik Si Anita, Chak Nambar Chatti, Uninja Din, Kagaz Te Kanvas, Chuni Huyee Kavitayen, and Ek Baat.

Amrita Pritam Personal Life

After getting married to Pritam Singh, who was the son of a leading hosiery merchant in Lahore, in the year 1935, she got divorced in the year 1960. She had also claimed that she had unrequited affection for Sahir Ludhianvi, who was a famous poet. Her autobiography, Rasidi Ticket, basically talks about this love between the two. Later, Sudha Malhotra, a singer, entered Sahir’ life after which Amrita found solace in the companionship of Imroz, who was a renowned writer and artist. The last 40 years of her life was spent with Imroz, who was the one who had designed most of her book covers. He had also made her the primary subject of most of his paintings.


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