|Author||Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay|
Durgeshnandini (Bengali: দুর্গেশনন্দিনী, Doorgeshnondini, Daughter of the Feudal Lord) is a Bengali historical romance novel written by Indian writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1865. Durgeshnandini is a story of the love triangle between Jagat Singh, a Mughal General, Tilottama, the daughter of a Bengali feudal lord and Ayesha, the daughter of a rebel Pathan leader against whom Jagat Singh was fighting. The story is set in the backdrop of Pathan-Mughal conflicts that took place in south-western region of modern-day Indian state of Paschimbanga (West Bengal) during the reign of Akbar.
Durgeshnandini is the first Bengali novel written by Bankim Chandra as well as the first major Bengali novel in the history of Bengali literature. The story of the novel was borrowed from some local legends of Arambag region, Hooghly district, Paschimbanga, collected by Bankim Chandra’s great-uncle. Although the conservative critics mocked the lucidity of Bankim Chandra’s language, Durgeshnandini was highly praised by most of the contemporary scholars and newspapers.
The story is set in the backdrop of Pathan-Mughal conflicts that took place in south-western region of modern-day Indian state of Paschimbanga (West Bengal) during the reign of Akbar. Jagat Singh, a General of Mughal army and son of Raja Man Singh met Tilottama, daughter of Birendra Singha, a feudal lord of south-western Bengal in Mandaran (in modern-day Hooghly district, Paschimbanga) and they fell in love with each other. While they were preparing for a marriage ceremony, Katlu Khan, a rebel Pathan leader attacked Mandaran. Birendra Singha died in the battle and Jagat Singh was imprisoned along with Birendra’s widow Bimala and their daughter Tilottama. Katlu Khan’s daughter Ayesha saved Tilottama from her father’s lust, but Ayesha herself fell in love with Jagat Singh. Later, Bimala revenged her husband’s death by stabbing Katlu Khan. In the meantime, Man Singh signed a pact with the Pathans and they set Jagat Singh free. But Ayesha’s lover Osman challenged Jagat Singh in a duel which Jagat Singh won. Realising that Jagat Singh who was a Hindu prince would never marry a Muslim woman, Ayesha gave up hope for him, but she eventually helped Tilottama to get married to Jagat Singh.
Although, Bankim Chandra’s younger brother Purna Chandra Chattopadhyay stated that their great-uncle told Bankim Chandra of a popular legend of Mandaran which he collected from Bishnupur-Arambag region. According to the legend, the Pathans attacked the fort of the local feudal lord and took him and his wife and daughter to Orissa as prisoners and when Jagat Singh was sent to rescue them, he was also imprisoned. Bankim Chandra heard the story when he was 19 years old and after a few years he wrote Durgeshnandini.
Bankim Chandra himself dismissed any presumption of whether his novel was influenced by Ivanhoe, stating he never read Scott’s romance before writing Durgeshnandini. Asit Kumar Bandyopadhyay also wrote that apart from the love-triangle between Jagat Singh, Ayesha and Tilottama which closely resembles that of Ivanhoe, Rebecca and Rowena in Ivanhoe, there is not much similarity between the two novels. He thus concluded that Durgeshnandini is Bankim Chandra’s original work.
Date and text
13 editions of the novel were published during the lifetime of Bankim Chandra, the last being in 1893. It was translated into English (1882), Hindustani (1876), Hindi (1882) and Kannada (1885). It was first adopted for stage in 1873.
Durgeshnandini received mixed response from contemporary critics. While the Sanskrit scholars of Bhatpara appreciated the novel, scholars of Calcutta did not. Dwarakanath Vidyabhushan, the editor of Somprakash mocked Bankim Chandra’s lucid language and unconventional style; although Sambad Prabhakar and some other contemporary newspapers highly praised the novel.
Sukumar Sen wrote, “…the tale was something that was wholly new and entirely delightful. The pseudo-historical background was a justification for a pure love romance intended for readers who knew only married love.”
- 1927: Durgesh Nandini, starring Durgadas Bannerjee, Kanu Bannerjee, Ahindra Choudhury, Indira Devi, Sita Devi, directed by Priyanath N. Ganguly.
- 1951: Durgesh Nandini, starring Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Chhabi Biswas, Bharati Devi, Chandrabati Devi, Kamal Mitra, directed by Amar Mullick.
- Sen, Sukumar (1979) . History of Bengali (3rd ed.). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. pp. 211–12. ISBN 81-7201-107-5.
- Bandyopadhyay, Asit Kumar (2007) . Bangla Sahityer Itibritta [History of Bengali Literature] (in Bengali) VIII (3rd ed.). Kolkata: Modern Book Agency Pvt Ltd. pp. 493–502.
- Bagal, ed. (2003) . "Upanyas-Prasange" [On Novels]. Bankim Rachanavali [Complete Works of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay] (in Bengali) I (20th ed.). Kolkata: Sahitya Sansad. pp. XXX–XXXII. ISBN 81-85626-13-8.
- Durgesh Nandini at the Internet Movie Database
- Durgesh Nandini at the Internet Movie Database