|Parineeta (The Married Woman)|
|Author||Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay|
|Publisher||Roy M. C. Sarkar Bahadur & Sons|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
Parineeta (Bengali: পরিণীতা Porinita) is a 1914 Bengali language novella written by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay and is set in Calcutta, India during the early part of the 20th century. It is a novel of social protest which explores issues of that time period related to class and religion.
The word Parineeta is translated in English as married woman. The literal meaning comes from Bengali (Sanskrit) word "পরিণয/परिणय/Parinay" - "marriage".
Parineeta takes place at the turn of the 20th century during the Bengal Renaissance. The story centers around a poor thirteen-year-old orphan girl, Lalita, who lives with the family of her uncle Gurucharan. Gurucharan has five daughters and the expense of paying for each dowry has impoverished him. He is forced to take a loan from his neighbor, Nabin Roy. Roy's son Shekhar, is a twenty five-year-old successful lawyer who is close friends with Lalita. While she is infatuated with him, the differences in wealth and class (and later religion) preclude marriage (as Swagato Ganguly states in the introduction to the 2005 English translation, "child marriages were the norm during much of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's life time...and did not attract any penalties from the law at the time of Parineeta's publication in 1914", pp.v-vi).
Shekhar is nonetheless jealous of Girin, a student who is the uncle of Lalita's friend, Charubala (her mother's cousin). Girin, Charubala and the rest of their family are Brahmos and Girin exerts a great deal of influence over Lalita's family. Girin helps Gurucharan repay the loan to Nabin Roy. He also convinces Gurucharan to convert himself and his family from Hinduism to Brahmoism as it forbade the giving of dowry in a marriage (a move which so enrages Nabin Roy that he builds a wall between the two houses). As a triangle develops between Girin, Shekhar, and Lalita, tragedy ensues in the wake of a number of misunderstandings.
- Lalita: the protagonist of the novella. Lalita came to live with her uncle's family after she was orphaned at the age of eight. At the beginning of the novella, she is thirteen years old and is close with her cousin Annakali (Kali) and her neighbor, Charubala (Charu). Lalita is considered a member of not only her uncle's family but of Charu's and of Shekhar's as well. Shekhar's mother Bhuvaneshwari is so attached to Lalita that she tells Lalita to call her "ma". At a time (1914) when young women were typically married at the age of thirteen, Lalita becomes the object of a triangle between her neighbor Shekhar and Charu's uncle, Girin.
- Gurucharan: Lalita's uncle is a bank clerk with a small salary and five daughters, as well as Lalita, to support. He becomes impoverished due to his attempts to follow social custom and pay large dowries for the weddings of his daughters. Indeed, the marriage of his second daughter was paid for by Shekhar's father, Nabin. In lieu of returning the money with high interest, Gurucharan's house was mortgaged to Nabin.
- Lalita's aunt: She is never named in the novella and has only a minor role.
- Annakali or Kali: Gurucharan's ten-year-old daughter and Lalita's cousin and playmate. It is during Kali's imaginary "doll-wedding" that Lalita and Shekhar exchange garlands.
Shekhar Roy's family
- Shekhar: The youngest son of the Roy family, Shekhar is twenty-five years old. He has a master's degree as well as a law degree and is working as a teacher. From the time of her arrival to Gurucharan's house, Shekhar had taken an interest in Lalita's upbringing. While Shekhar contemplates marrying Lalita, he is restrained by social customs as well as by the resistance of his father who wants him to marry a wealthy woman with a large dowry.
- Nabin: Shekhar's father, who is a millionaire and an unscrupulous businessman. He becomes so enraged when Gurucharan's debt is repaid and when Gurucharan converts himself and his family to Brahmoism, that he builds a wall between the two houses.
- Bhuvaneshwari: Shekhar's mother, who is an advanced thinker. She wants Shekhar to choose his own wife rather than marry the woman whom Nabin selects. She also accepts Lalita as her daughter despite the difference in wealth and position.
- Abnash: Shekhar's married elder brother, a lawyer, who is mentioned in passing but never appears in the novella.
- Charubala or Charu: Lalita's neighbor and playmate. She introduces Lalita to her uncle Girin.
- Manorma: Charu's mother and Girin's cousin. She is an active card player and involves Lalita in many card games.
- Girin: Manoroma's cousin and a university student who as been away for many years. He, as with the rest of the family, is a Brahmo, and convinces Gurucharan to convert himself (and his family). As a Brahmo, Gurucharan will no longer have to pay large dowries for the weddings of his daughters. In addition to repaying Gurucharan's loan, Girin repeatedly proves himself to be a man of integrity who acts according to the common good rather than his own self-interest.
- 2005:English edition (Penguin India), translated by Malobika Chaudhuri, with an introduction by Swagato Ganguly .
- 1937: Gujarati edition
- 1934: Marathi edition
Parineeta has been adapted to film a number of times:
- Parineeta (2005 film) (Bollywood version), directed by Pradeep Sarkar, based upon a screenplay by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, starring Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, and Vidya Balan.
- Sankoch (1976 film), directed by Arun Ganuly, starring Sulakshana Pandit and Jeetendra.
- Parineeta (1969 film), directed by Ajoy Kar, starring Soumitra Chatterjee and Moushumi Chatterjee.
- Parineeta (1953 film), directed by Bimal Roy, starring Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari.
- Parineeta (1942 film), directed by Pashupati Chatterjee.
- Ganguly, Swagato. "Introduction." In Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Parineeta. Translated from Bengali into English by Malobika Chaudhuri. New Delhi:Penguin Books, 2005.
- Penguin India book review
- A Bengali lost in Bollywood: Opulent settings, lots of music, a central love interest and a dramatic ending - Parineeta is a story altogether different from Sarat Chandra's novel
- A sensitive book; a hackneyed film