Shatranj Ke Khiladi (शतरंज के खिलाड़ी) is a story of two nawabs of Lucknow who are so deeply immersed into playing chess that they forget to protect their city which falls into the hand of the British.
Munshi Premchand (Hindi: मुंशी प्रेमचंद) was an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani literature. He is one of the most celebrated writers of the Indian subcontinent,and is regarded as one of the foremost Hindustani writers of the early twentieth century.
Born Dhanpat Rai, he began writing under the pen name "Nawab Rai", but subsequently switched to "Premchand", while he is also known as "Munshi Premchand", Munshi being an honorary prefix. A novel writer, story writer and dramatist, he has been referred to as the "Upanyas Samrat" ("Emperor among Novelists") by some Hindi writers. His works include more than a dozen novels, around 250 short stories, several essays and translations of a number of foreign literary works into Hindi.
Premchand is considered the first Hindi author whose writings prominently featured realism. His novels describe the problems of the poor and the urban middle-class. His works depict a rationalistic outlook, which views religious values as something that allows the powerful hypocrites to exploit the weak. He used literature for the purpose of arousing public awareness about national and social issues and often wrote about topics related to corruption, child widowhood, prostitution, feudal system, poverty, colonialism and on the India's freedom movement.
Several of his early works, such as A Little Trick and A Moral Victory, satirised the Indians who cooperated with the British colonial government.
In the 1920s, he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's non-cooperation movement and the accompanying struggle for social reform. During this period, his works dealt with the social issues such as poverty, zamindari exploitation (Premashram, 1922), dowry system (Nirmala, 1925), educational reform and political oppression (Karmabhumi, 1931).
In his last days, he focused on village life as a stage for complex drama, as seen in his most famous work Godan as well as the short-story collection Kafan (1936).Premchand believed that social realism was the way for Hindi literature, as opposed to the "feminine quality", tenderness and emotion of the contemporary Bengali literature.
I fell in love with this story when I had watched its film adaptation by none other than Satyajit Ray. The whole atmosphere of Lucknow at the height of its cultural glory, under the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and its eventual annexation by the British forces was extremely fascinating. Neither was I not impressed with the irony that forms the basic back bone of this short story. However the fault for not being able to appreciate the reading of this masterpiece lies solely on me. I will blame it on my ignorance of Urdu alfaz, which were predominantly used in dialogues by the characters, to obviously signify the region and the period during which the incident takes place.
So over all a difficult experience if I may say so. I am in despair tbh...
শতরঞ্জ কে খিলাড়ির প্রথম নাম শুনি সত্যজিৎ রায়ের কল্যাণে। সত্তরের দশকের নিজের প্রথম হিন্দি ছবি বানান সত্যজিৎ, কাহিনী হিসেবে প্রেম চন্দের এই ছোট গল্পখানা বেছে নেন। তখনো প্রেম চন্দের নাম আমি সেভাবে শুনিনি। যাওবা শুনেছি তার সবই পত্রিকা কিংবা ম্যাগাজিন সূত্রে প্রাপ্ত। এবং এ সবই প্রশংসায় ভরা। প্রেম চন্দ হিন্দি সাহিত্যর নামকরা লেখক, নতুন ধারার প্রবর্তক, তার লেখায় গরীব, মেহনতী মানুষের কথা উঠে এসেছে, লেখার স্টাইলে তিনি বাংলা সাহিত্যের কিংবদন্তিতুল্য কথাশিল্পী শরৎচন্দ্রের মত। ইত্যাদি ইত্যাদি।
মনে মনে তার লেখা খুঁজছিলাম। কিন্তু বাংলাদেশে মান্টো কিংবা কৃষণ চন্দর যতটা জনপ্রিয় প্রেম চন্দ ততটা নয়। একটু খুঁজতে পুরনো একটা বই খুঁজে পেলাম। আশির দশকের এক সংস্করণ। শতরঞ্জ কে খিলাড়ি নাম। বইটা ছোট��ল্পের সংকলন। এখানে মোট ১৩টি গল্প স্থান পেয়েছে। গল্পগুলো আকারে একেবারেই ছোট। তিন থেকে চার পাতার। প্রেম চন্দের লেখা সহজসরল। কাহিনী একরৈখিক। একই টোনে ভদ্রলোক গল্প বলে যান, টোনের ওঠানামা হয় না। আরেকটা জিনিস চোখে পড়লো। প্রেম চন্দের বেশিরভাগ গল্পই নীতিকথামূলক। প্রোটাগনিস্টরা নীতির পরকাষ্ঠা, দেবতুল্য চরিত্রের অধিকারী। সবসময় ন্যায়ের পথে চলেন। অনেকটা পুরনো আমলের বাংলা সিনেমার নায়ক-নায়িকাদের মত।
তবে ব্যতিক্রমও আছে। উজ্জ্বল ব্যতিক্রম সংকলনের নামগল্পটি যা থেকে রায়বাবু সিনেমা বানিয়েছেন। শতরঞ্জ কে খিলাড়ি।
গল্পটি দু’জন দাবাড়ুকে নিয়ে আবর্তিতঃ মির্জা ও মীর। তারা নগরীর প্রভাবশালী দুই পরিবারের মাথা। দুজনই দিনদুনিয়া ভুলে দাবায় মশগুল। তাদের পরিবার রসাতলে যাচ্ছে, প্রিয় নগরী দখল করে নিচ্ছে ইংরেজরা কিন্তু দুই দাবাড়ুর এদিকে কোন হুঁশজ্ঞান নেই। তারা তখন ব্যস্ত কীভাবে প্রতিপক্ষকে দাবায় ধরাশায়ী করা যায় এ নিয়ে। গল্পটা ইঙ্গিতময়, পড়ে নিজের দেশের রাজনীতিবিদদের কথা মনে পড়ে যায়।
এ গল্প ছাড়াও কাফন ও পৌষের রাত সংকলনটির উল্লেখযোগ্য সংযোজন।
Not a full-fledged book, but a short story. Munshi Premchand's Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) is set in the last days of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah's Awadh. In 1856, Lucknow plays and gambles, dances and drinks and whiles away its time in mindless pleasure while the British—and the end of all this luxury—draw nearer. Two noblemen, Mirza Sajjad Ali and Mir Roshan Ali, are the eponymous chess players of the tale: so completely devoted to their daily sessions of chess—beginning in the morning, going on (often even without actually breaking off for refreshments) through the day—that all else is forgotten: home and hearth, wives and households. Even as Lucknow falls about their ears and Wajid Ali Shah is deposed by the British, Mirza and Mir battle on—not against the enemy, but against each other, with the chessboard as their battlefield.
This is an excellent story about obsession and of turning a blind eye and a deaf ear. Of leading a blinkered existence, of refusing to even acknowledge that an unpleasant truth lurks somewhere beyond. Mirza and Mir set up, in the form of their daily games of chess, an illusory world where they fight heated battles, strategizing and thinking and warring to the exclusion of all else. Tragic, satirical, but also so universal, so very true of human nature: 'अपने बादशाह के लिए उनकी आँखों से एक बूँद आँसू न निकला, उन्होंने शतरंज के वज़ीर की रक्षा में प्राण दे दिए।' For Mir and Mirza, the chessboard becomes their real world, the disintegrating, tottering realm about them becomes a dream.
The characterizations are superb, the language very real, the satire brilliant. A fine example of just why Premchand is so highly regarded. If you don’t have the time to read one of his full-length novels, this is a good place to start.
Trademark Premchand - the cynicism, the humour, the slightest of jabs with the smoothest of words, Premchand paints a brutal picture of rural pre-Independence India with skeptic humour, blatant honesty and unveiled insight.
Premchand aces in story-telling. For instance, let's purview this story. Set in a society that relies heavily on money-laundering, prostitution and morally-eroded relationships, two friends sit day after day for a game of chess. They lose the game, of both life and chess, which eventually justifies the title.
The author never fails to mesmerize me with his narratives that are filled with wit, sarcasm and humor on our daily lives. His acute observation of our Indian society binds attention. Few have accomplished this feat and I feel, fewer of them can match Munshi Premchand.
A hearty recommend to anyone looking for a quick bout of mirth.
The time-line of the story is when British are on their way to get hold of whole India. This truly depicts how the royal family in India has become at that time. Just enjoying the present and never giving any thought to state/people. Premchand wrote the story in comic way which is enjoyable. The story is about two royal persons. Their desire for the game is amazing. Same is true for their irresponsibility toward their families and state. When the city Lucknow was being captured by the British they are enjoying the game far from all this in an old broken fort.
Premchand to me stands out as no other author does. but I will say that the movie by Satyajit Ray outwins this one. Although, that doesnt imply that this misses anything that makes Premchand so incredibly joyous to read. I read this in hindi and would recommend all to read in the original language.
4.5🌟 As a chess player myself, I totally understand the two players' chess addiction😅😅 but as we know that being addicted to anything is always a bad thing and can prove fatal which has been proved through this story. Two chess players in Lucknow so fully addicted to Chess that they didn't defend their city, Lucknow, their king, and lost Lucknow to British while defending their "wazeers" in Shatranj!!
The title translates to 'Chess Players'. I was almost giving up on Premchand but this definitely one of his better stories.
It is a common saying in India that Chess is a thing that will make you forget the God. I love chess myself and have been addicted to it for whole days in past, and so kind of know there is not so much exaggeration. The story is of two friends having such obsession for the game that they can't bring themselves to break away from it even when their city us being attacked. This addiction is used by writer to show the disconnect between royal leisure class and the world around them, their carelessness about duties and so on. The obsession, climax and Gothic settings of ruins full of of bats reminds one of Poe.
I had been wanting to read something in Hindi for a long time now. Since I hardly know any writers in Hindi, I went with one of the most famous ones- Munshi Premchand.
Shatranj ke Khiladi is a very short read (it is in fact a short story, but available as a separate book) and I enjoyed it a lot. The language is artistic and yet not sluggish. Needless to say, I encountered many new words of Hindi and Urdu languages. I also realized that this story has been made into a critically acclaimed film of the same name by Satyajit Ray (released in 1977).
The story itself is simple and has a moral message. I would recommend this to anybody who wants to explore Hindi literature.
Due to lack of a compelling story, or due to some other reason... the book is hardly a gripping one. This made me aware of the language and the style of the book. Bah! Every sentence, every paragraph, I kept wondering -- did Premchand not know about these beautiful things called "punctuation marks"? Doesn't he know when to use a period and when to use a question mark.
I did not find it funny. I did not find any deep meaning in it. I failed to grasp the "vivid picture of society" Premchand "so masterfully creates".
Shatarnj ke Khiladi by Munshi Premchad- is a story of Mirza Sajjad Ali and Mirza Roshan Ali of Lucknow. The year is 1856 when the British are about to annexe the territories of Wajid Ali Shah of North Central India. Oudh administration is weak. One of the reason is that her ministers and responsible men are busy in other engagements than administration. Both the Mirza's spend their time in playing chess and devising new strategies to win the game while the British have attaked Lucknow. The French cannons and guns are available. Army has to be planned and placed to defend. When these two nobles find that it is difficult to play chess at home they leave their houses, to away to a garden out the city and play. They are irresponsible towards their families, society and their responsibity as noblemen of the Nawabiyat. It is an eye opening story of India. It is a must read for all. The message from the Book is that the leader of the society should always show a goal to the people. At that point of time the goal was to remain independent, unite and fight against the British occupation forces but the Royalty and the noblemen, ministers were busy in other unimportant things like playing chess, wine and women. The British convincingly beat them in battle and occupied their high income Oudh territory.
As far as I recall, it is the only book I have ever read whose movie adaptation does justice to the book. I read quite a great deal of Premchand books when I was a kid and no matter whether I liked them or not, I can't ever forget them. Most of them!
And Shatranj ke Khiladi is one of the few stories or novels that I happened to read again in my 20s, this one all thanks to the "Masculinities in Popular Culture & Literature" course that I took in my final year. That course was fun, all I had to do was to watch movies & read books and I couldn't even do that. But whatever. Reading this story again in the context of masculinity brought up a completely different perspective. This swapping of the gender roles between the husband & wife is much more prominent in the movie and that's what makes me like the movie as much as the book.
This short story describes the life of Mir Ali and Mirza Ali, two people who are addicted to the game of chess. The duration is around 1855-56 since the story mentions the capture of Wajid Ali Shah by the British. Vivid description and use of Lucknowi accent adds to the glamour of the story. Nevertheless a nice story.
This short story of Premchand truly captures the reasons behind fall of Mughals and Rise of Britishers in the year 1856. Satyajit Ray brilliantly adapted it into a movie of same name. A very fine commentary of that period.
It wasn't as hard to read as I was expecting it to be! A decent read other than that. If you're also picking up Hindi literature for the first time since you left school, it might be a good idea to start with this one. It isn't too tedious.