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Madhusudan Dutt’s 145th death anniversary

Madhusudan Dutt’s 145th death anniversary

Today marks the 145th death anniversary of Michael Madhusudan Dutt, widely considered one of the greatest poets in Bengali literature and pioneer of the Bengali sonnet and Bengali drama. He initiated what came to be known as the Amitrakkhar Chhanda.

In memory of the legendary litterateur, socio-cultural organisations chalked out elaborate programmes across the country. Paying tribute to the great poet, local satellite television channels and radio stations will also air a number of quality programmes. 

Popular theatre troupe Prangonemor will stage its much acclaimed production ‘Darao... Jonmo Jodi Tobo Bonge’ to mark the death anniversary of Michael Madhusudan Dutt at Bangladesh Mohila Samity this evening.

Michael Madhusudan Dutta was born in Sagordari, on the bank of Kopotakkho river, in Keshabpur of Jashore on Jan 25, 1824. His father was Rajnarayan Dutt, an eminent lawyer, and his mother was Jahnabi Devi.

Madhusudan is a pioneer of Bengali drama. His famous work ‘Meghnad Bodh Kabbo’ is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is exceptional in Bengali literature both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love as spoken by women. 

As a young student, Madhusudan was influenced by the thoughts and actions of the Young Bengal - a movement by a group of illustrious former students of The Hindu College in Calcutta against the atrocities, blind beliefs and customs they held as illogical, prevalent in the Hindu society of 19th century Bengal.

Madhusudan, a student of Hindu College himself, aspired to be an English poet and longed to travel to England to gain fame. When his father, concerned by these trends, arranged his marriage, he rebelled. One aspect of his rebellion involved conversion to Christianity. Madhusudan is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets in Bengali literature and the father of the Bengali sonnet. He pioneered what came to be called 'Amitrakkhar Chhanda'.

Although his first love remained poetry, Madhusudan showed prodogious skill as a playwright. He was the first to write Bengali plays in the English style, segregating the play into acts and scenes. He was also the pioneer of the first satirical plays in Bengali – ‘Buro Shalik er Ghare Row’ and ‘Ekei Ki Boley Sovyota’.

When Deenabandhu Mitra wrote a Bengali play portraying the plight of the workers in indigo plantations at the hands of their British masters, Madhusudan was the person who translated the play into English. He had also translated the episode of Prince Hector's death from Homer's Illiad into Bengali. Although Madhusudan was a literateur par excellence, he was an alcoholic from his youth and his addiction grew as he aged. It was the source and cause of many of his hardships and miseries-both financial and mental.

He was supported in his times of financial crisis by his friends and Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar; the latter sent him monthly allowances regularly on the condition that Madhusudan should concentrate all his efforts in creating great specimens of Bengali poetry. Madhusudan was, however, never able to master his addiction and it led to his untimely death. 

Michael Madhusudan Dutt was an important figure of the Bengali Renaissance who helped place Bengali literature on the throne it holds at present. He was hailed as the greatest poet of the Bengali language until the advent of Rabindranath Tagore. Even now, he is one of the great poets of the Bengali language.

His childhood education started in a village named Shekpura, at an old mosque, where he went to learn Persian. He was an exceptionally talented student. Since his childhood, Dutt was recognised by his teachers and professors as being a precocious child with a gift of literary expression. He was very imaginative. Early exposure to English education and European literature at home and in Kolkata inspired him to emulate the English in taste, manners and intellect.

An early influence was his teacher, Capt. D.L.Richardson at Hindu College. Richardson was a poet and inspired in Dutt a love of English poetry, particularly Byron.

Madhusudan Dutt died in Calcutta, India, on Jun 29, 1873.