On the 18th death anniversary of noted poet Amrita Pritam on 31st October 2018, we take a look at her love affair with words.

Amrita Pritam ruled the world of Hindi
and Punjabi poetry in the 20th century.
Her words called out to people from various backgrounds: lovers, travellers,
women trapped in abusive marriages,
Partition refugees. With a literary repertoire of twenty eight novels,
fifteen prose anthologies, five short
stories, and sixteen miscellaneous prose
volumes, Amrita Pritam remains one of
the most haunting voices of the Indian
Her work such as Pinjar and Ajj Akhaan
Waris Shah nu (I ask Waris Shah Today)
shot her into literary fame. People came
to look towards her words not just for love, comfort, and solace, but for the hint of rebellion. The tragedies that she faced in her life—migrating from Pakistan as a Partition refugee, early death of her mother, and subsequent loneliness, divorce from her husband, the unrequited love she had for Sahir Ludhianvi, another famous Hindi poet—made Amrita’s words shine stark against the pantheon of vernacular literature.

Born in 1919 in Gujranwala in what is Pakistan’s Punjab today, Amrita Kaur was an only child of Raj Bibi, a school teacher and Kartar Singh Hitkari, a poet. She published her first set of poems entitled Amrit Lehran in 1936 at the age of sixteen. In the same year, she married Pritam Singh, an editor and childhood friend. She then changed her name from Amrita Kaur to Amrita Pritam.

After Independence and her subsequent
migration to India from Lahore, she got
involved in social activism and a part of the e Progressive Writers’ Movement, a
defiant collective of writers like Syed
Sajjad Zahir, Rashid Jahan, Ahmed Ali,
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Hameed Akhtar, and
Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. She helped in the
establishment of the first Janta Library in

Her early poems published between 1936
and 1945 were filled with romanticism, a
prose that spun wildfire through exotic
images. Later, her work became grittier as Partition changed her both as a poet and as a social activist. These poems clearly reflected the trauma Partition had had on her.
Amrita Pritam, Sahir Ludhianvi and
Imroz’s love affair is probably one of the
most famous love stories memorialised
in prose, poetry, drama and other art forms. A play called Yeh Kahani Nahi
was performed by Miranda House’s
Hindi Dramatic Society Anukriti on the
same. The play, based on Amrita’s life
and directed by Shilpi Marwaha, was
brilliantly executed by the students and
left the jam-packed audience moved. In
many ways, Amrita’s words and her life in her words thus live on around us. Thus, in many ways, it was her tryst with words and the sonorous lines that poured from her pen that gave her true immortality. In one of her poems, Amrita wrote with a hint of melancholy:
A little smoke floats up,
and my ‘me’ dies like an eighth-month
Will my ‘me’ one day be my contemporary?

Amrita Pritam passed away in her sleep on 31st October 2005, at the age of 86 in her residence in New Delhi, leaving a heartbroken lover in Imroz and an even more devastated audience. Unsurprisingly, her words refuse to die down and persist as our glorious contemporary truth.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindustan Times

Sara Sohail
[email protected]

Mood Indigo wrapped up its 2015 edition on 21st December with the finals of Mantra, the fusion band competition, Beat the Streets, the street dance competition, amongst others as well as Humorfest with Vir Das and the Popular Nite concert featuring Pritam taking place.

Day 4 started bright and early with the finals of Mood Indigo Idol. The judges for the event were Mithoon, the popular music director, and Papon. After performances from the finalists, DU again saw itself placed amongst the winners with Shruti Dashmana from Gargi College ranking third.

Third Bell, the one act play competition, also saw its finals taking place. The first place was won by the team from Manipal Institute of Technology, the second from IIT Bombay and the third by Punjab Engineering College. Sahiba Bali from Hansraj Dramatics Society won the best actor award. After a grueling battle in the eliminations and the semi-finals, Beat the Streets finals saw The Street Buck crew from the Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce, Pune taking the top prize. DU’s own street dance favourites, Verve, from Sri Venkateswara College ranked second and the Tuttix crew ranked third. Street Dance Singing the Indigos, the western solo singing competition, had its finals on Day 4 as well, post its eliminations on Day 3. Delhi Colleges showed their mettle once again with Shruti Dashmana from Gargi College, who was amongst the top 3 in other music competitions as well, winning the first position.  Mayank Mittal from Delhi College of Engineering and Dimple Sankhla from Christ College Bangalore wrapped up the top three. Nita Mehta, popular cook-book author also spoke as a part of the Litfest, talking about her journey from starting cooking classes at home to writing books that were successful. She advised students to not do anything run of the mill and to always be willing to do something different in order to be successful. Vir Das performed as a part of the Humorfest for Day 4 to a packed auditorium. His session, full of innuendos and anecdotes, was met with enthusiastic laughter. Taking on everything from politics to love, and mixing doses of wisdom for life in them, he also didn’t shy away from making light-hearted jibes at IIT-ians. His account of getting a break in Bollywood and about a break-up saw the crowds reacting with applause and shouts of appreciation. [caption id="attachment_37152" align="aligncenter" width="754"]Vir Das performing at Mood Indigo 2015 Vir Das performing at Mood Indigo 2015[/caption] Mood Indigo 2015 closed with the winners of Mantra, the fusion band competition, which was The Hansraj Projekt, opening for Pritam. The concert saw him performing some of his biggest hits to an ecstatic crowd and ending with fireworks. Yet another Delhi University band, the band from Kirori Mal College came second in Mantra, with an original composition, Balma. The composition, with an Afro- Cuban Jazz feel, had Hindi and Carnatic vocals. [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="37149,37150"]

Pritam mood indigo

The four days of the festival were packed with diverse events- both formal and informal- and all of them were handled well by the organizing committee. With the mood for the Hawaiian Escapade carrying on late into the night even after the concert, it was easy to see why Mood Indigo is one of the best cultural festivals of Asia.

Shubham Kaushik

[email protected]

Lovleen Kaur

[email protected]

Photos by Chirag Sharma, Tejaswa, Paurush and Shubham Kaushik

Feature Image Credits: Ranadeep Singh