Harindranath Chattopadhyay

2 Apr 1898
23 Jun 1990
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Harindranath Chattopadhyay (2 April 1898 – 23 June 1990) was a multi talented personality as an Indian English poet, a dramatist, an actor, a musician and a member of the 1st Lok Sabha from Vijayawada constituency. He was the younger brother of Sarojini Naidu, the first woman President of Indian National Congress and Virendranath Chattopadhyay, a revolutionary.

Born in Hyderabad (erstwhile Hyderabad State, present day Telangana) in a Bengali Hindu Kulin Brahmin family to Aghornath Chattopadhyay, a scientist-philosopher and educationist, and Barada Sundari Devi, a poetess and singer, he is famous for poems like Noon and Shaper Shaped. His father was a Doctorate of Science from Edinburgh University, settled in Hyderabad State, where he founded and administered the Hyderabad College, which later became the Nizam’s College in Hyderabad. His mother was a poetess and used to write poetry in Bengali. His other interests were politics, music, theatre and cinema. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1973. He married Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, a Socialist and leader of Women, who created the All India Women’s Conference, the Indian Cooperative Union and also was the inspiration for the All Indian Handicraft’s Board, a body which revived many Indian handicrafts, decimated by the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 19th century. (Pottery and Weaving) their son Ramakrishna Chattopadhyaya is in Banagalore, India, today. Their divorce marked the very first legal separation granted by the courts of India.

Harindranath Chattopadhyay often recited his poem Rail Gaadi on All India Radio (Akashavani). The song was memorably sung by Ashok Kumar in the film Aashirwad. He himself wrote the lyrics, composed the music and sang a few songs, notable among which were Surya Ast Ho Gaya and Tarun Arun Se Ranjit Dharani. He also penned a number of poems for children in Hindi. His poems were appreciated even by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

In 1951 Lok Sabha elections Harindranath Chattopadhyay won from Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency in Madras State as an independent candidate, supported by the Communist Party of India. He was the member of the 1st Lok Sabha from 14 April 1952 to 4 April 1957.

His most famous acting role was in the movie Bawarchi (The Chef) which was made in 1972 ; it was adapted in Hindi by Gulzar from the Bengali film “Galpo Holeo Satyee”, directed by Tapan Sinha. He enacted the role of strict and regimented patriarch of the house, where his sons, daughter in laws and grand children lived in a joint family and still respected and abided by his rules. His cameo in two Satyajit Ray films, “Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne” [as the wizard ‘Barfi’] and “Sonar Kella” [as the human encyclopaedia – ‘Sidhujyatha] – has etched him in permanence.

He died in 1990.

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