Shrilal Shukla (December 31, 1925 – October 28, 2011), an illustrious writer and satirist who was also known for his linguistic inventiveness needs no introduction. He, who left away a legacy of several masterpieces in Hindi Sahitya was an officer with Provincial Civil Services (retired from IAS in 1983). A recipient of several laurels like Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Padma Bhushan, Vyaas Samman, Shrilal Shukla was also honored with other awards & distinctions in the literary domain. He also served as a Director of the Bhartendu Natya Academy, U.P. (1979-80), Represented India at the International Writers’ Meet in Belgrade (1981) and was an esteemed Member of Advisory Board with Sahitya Akademi (1982-86).
Shrilal Shukla with his novels and stories underscored the declining moral values in society – both urban and rural. He with all his hilarious and satirical wit described the social & political plight where all the human virtue has been gradually diminishing.
As a tribute to him, I’m jotting down few of his literary milestones for introductory and worthy reads. For a writer of this might and stature, it is always difficult to come up with something like “Best of Him”. Hence, I’m preferably picking up the one with Google Previews for reader’s delight without missing over the important titles. My heartfelt homage to him …
Novels by Shrilal Shukla
Suni Ghati Ka Suraj (1957)
His maiden Novel published way back in 1957 has garnered much of the interest of both the critiques & fans. A story of a poor but talented man who is rendered jobless just because of no relation with big and famous persons. Neither he could afford to bribe and nor could manage any approach for canvassing. The books explains the struggle of a young man who falls prey of callous and stagnant system but continues to combat with the same. The book speaks volumes of exploitation against destitute and lower classes. His scholastic abilities & foresight can be understood with the fact that he anticipated Naxalism and Separatism long before with Suni Ghati Ka Suraj.
Raag Darbari (1968)
A highly acclaimed and most popular novel by Srilal Shukla, for which he was awarded Sahitya Akademy Award is a national bestseller. Here in this novel, he traces the notorious nexus between Politicians, Police, Criminals & Businessman. A precursor of current Indian situation which is even more relevant today. The language and theme was so pragmatic that this catapulted Srilal Shukla into the league of stalwarts with his subsequent marvels. The novel has been translated into all major Indian languages (National Book Trust) including English (Penguin Books).
Bishrampur Ka Sant (1998)
Yet another poignant piece of noble-novel after Raag Darbari. Story spun in the backdrop of Bhoodan Andolan (Land Gift Movement), this portrays the discomfort & unwillingness of Landlords and elites in concern who can’t make a compromise. A cynical tale of selfishness, discontent & personal ambition in post independence era, the book reveals all the facets of feudalism and other orthodox treatment which has been prevailing since ages.
Short Stories by Shrilal Shukla
Dus Pratinidhi Kahaniyan (2003)
A quick read compilation of 10 best stories which the author considers to be the best or milestone of his literary career. It includes the stories like “Is Umra Mein”, “Sukhant”, “Sapola”, ” The Grand Motor Driving School”, “Shishtachaar”, “Danga”, “Suraksha”, “Chuttiyan”, “Yah Mera Ghar Nahin” & “Apni Pehchaan”.
Is Umra Mein (2003)
A collection which comprises of 11 stories & tales like “Is Umra Mein”, “Chand Akhbaari Ghatnayein”, “Patang Ke Lutere”, “Sukhant”, “Zindagi”, “Charon Or Ghana Andhera Jungle Tha”, “Itihaas Ka Ant”, “Shistachar”, “T M Singh Ki Katha” & “Nirdhan Padosi Ki Katha” & “Mahajani Sabhyata Aur Dadhi Moonch Ki Katha”.
Satires by Shrilal Shukla
Angad Ka Panv (1958)
Typical tid-bits shared by the author with his friend and fellow traveler while on railway station to see him off. He here makes an exemplary observation of gossips that follows over the platform when the train is about to leave and people don’t fall short on words.
Khabron Ki Jugali (2005)
Something of a news and views. Shrilal Shukla’s takes and comments over the ongoing socio-political environment and other social concerns. “Wah Jo Minister Banegs”, “Budget – Kuch Prakat, Kuch Kapat”, “Prem Ka Ek Din”, “Vote Ki Loot Khasot”, “Sadak Sahitya aur Langde Sher”, “Kursi Kahin, Kaam Kahin”, “Ek Netaputra Ka Interview”, “Vikas Ka Bollywood Formula”, “Main Vipaksh Hota To Kya Karta” are the sarcastic shots that has been included.
Compiled Works of Shrilal Shukla
Jahalat Ke Pachaas Saal (2003)
A bulkier cousin of 10 Pratinidhi Kahaniyan but with satirical stories only. Jahalat Ke Pachaas Saal includes his popular and major hilarious workpieces from last 50 years. “Angad Ka Paon”, “Aurat Banam Naari” & “Umravnagar Mein Kooch Din” among with other stories are its main highlights.
Shrilal Shukla Sanchayita
For those who don’t want to miss a thing and would like to have it all. Shrilal Shukla Sanchayita is a consolidated release with Novels, Short Stories, Satires, Essays & Critiques at its disposal in a single volume. Though this has some abridged texts and partial entries, the book is still a worthy pick for those who would like to treasure his masterpieces.
May the Soul of this writer par excellence rest in peace …