Funny Anecdotes of 3 Writers from Colonial India

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A few writers captured the social fabric and emotional tumult of their times like the writers we are discussing today. R.K. Narayan raised socio-cultural concerns in post-independence India. Whereas Manto captured the physical as well as emotional displacement during the partition. Tagore was a poet, composer, and painter who sought reform in education. Apart from being literary stalwarts, they were humans too with as mundane worries and interesting lives as their characters. Here are some amusing anecdotes about them.


R.K. Narayan (Author of Malgudi Days)
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R.K. Narayan sold the rights to Guide, for a modest fee and a small percentage of the future profits when Dev Anand showed up at his door. The makers showed great interest in his vision. Narayan showed them around Mysore. He took them to various places that combined to make the Malgudi we know and love before the filming started. They ended up shooting in Jaipur, which Narayan writes in his autobiography ‘My Days’ was “as distant from Malgudi as Iceland.” When he voiced his objection, they retorted, “Where is Malgudi, anyway?”


Manto, once more! - The Hindu
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One of Manto’s funniest essays from ‘Why I Write’ translated by Aakar Patel titled ‘Thirteen Types of Freeloaders’ details how people used to bum cigarettes off him. As war and economic crisis go hand in hand, the Second World War resulted in grave shortages of all kinds of goods. Cigarettes had to be bought from the black market. Moreover, being a writer did not pay well. He strikes back at the leeches by detailing his interactions with 13 kinds of them.


Rabindranath Tagore | Biography & Facts | Britannica
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Rabindranath Tagore’s family was involved in the Bengal Renaissance movement. He was a prodigy and began writing at the tender age of eight. One day a young Tagore asked – “What is required for good poetry?” His elder brother replied- “Rasa.” That evening when he came back to the room, Tagore was preoccupied with something related to flowers strewn all over the table. He asked what the youngling was busy doing. He was dumbfounded when Tagore looked up and explained he was writing poems with the rasa from these flowers. Talk about taking things literally!

So, who is your favourite writer from Colonial India Era?