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Amrita Pritam's Novel to Be Rendered on Film

Born on Aug. 31, 1919, Amrita Pritam, the only child of a school teacher and a poet, had a distorted childhood. She lost her mother when she was 11, and at a later adolescent stage, her poetry was something which her father thoroughly despised because of its unconventional tone. What he anticipated from his exceptionally talented daughter was religious verse and not the sensuous and spontaneous outpourings of love. The Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956 for her seminal collection of poems, Sunehra [messages], made her the award's first woman recipient. She worked until 1961 for All India Radio. She was divorced in 1960 and since then her work has become more explicitly feminist, drawing on her unhappy marriage in many of her stories and poems. She was the first woman to be awarded the Padma Shri (1969). She was awarded the Bharatiya Jnanpith in 1981 for her contributions to Punjabi literature. In 2004, she was awarded India's second-highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan.

The Hindustan Times, Aug. 27, 2002

Photo: Amrita Pritam

Dr. Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, who shot to fame with the T.V. serial Chanakya, is all set to make his feature film debut with Pinjar [cage]. Based on Amrita Pritam's celebrated novel of the same name, the film is set in the Partition era. Chandra Prakash stumbled upon the book quite by chance. 'While I was researching about the Partition, one of my associates recommended Amrita Pritam's Pinjar. I was so impressed with the book that I instantly dropped the script I was working on and decided to adapt the novel for the screen,' the director says. Ms. Pritam, on her part, had no hesitation in granting him permission to make a film on her story. 'Having seen Chanakya on T.V., I have full faith In Chandra Prakash's abilities,' says the veteran Punjabi writer. Pinjar, says Chandra Prakash, is different from all other Partition-related fiction because of its humanism. 'Amritaji has portrayed the suffering of people of both the countries,' he adds.

Chandra Prakash believes in meaningful cinema: 'I think Indian cinema should not only be limited to entertainment. It should play a positive role in effecting social change. Pinjar will definitely play this role.' The cast of Pinjar, being made under the banner of Lucky Star Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., is headed by Manoj Bajpai and Urmila Matondkar. A major part of the film has been shot in the border district of Sriganganagar in Rajasthan and in various parts of Punjab. The film is being scheduled for release in Oct. or Nov. This, incidentally, is the second Amrita Pritam book that is being filmed, the first one being Daaku [dacoit], one of Basu Bhattacharya's most acclaimed films.