Mohan Rakesh

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Mohan Rakesh
Mohan Rakesh, (1925-1972).jpg
Born Madan Mohan Guglani[1]
(1925-01-08)8 January 1925
Amritsar, Undivided India
Died 3 January 1972(1972-01-03) (aged 46)
Occupation Novelist, playwright

Mohan Rakesh (मोहन राकेश; 8 January 1925 – 3 December 1972) was one of the pioneers of the Nai Kahani ("New Story") literary movement of the Hindi literature in the 1950s. He wrote the first modern Hindi play, Ashadh Ka Ek Din (One Day in Aashad) (1958), which won a competition organised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. He made significant contribution to novel, short story, travelogue, criticism, memoirs and drama.[1]

He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1968.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born as Madan Mohan Guglani on 8 January 1925 in Amritsar, Punjab. His father a lawyer died when he was sixteen.[1] He did his M.A. in English and Hindi from Punjab University, Lahore.[3][4]


He started his career as a teacher at Elphinstone College, Bombay (now Mumbai) from 1947 to 1949, after that he shifted to Delhi, but found a teaching job in Jalandhar, Punjab for a short while. Subsequently, and he remained Head of the Hindi department at DAV College, Jallandhar (Guru Nanak Dev University) and a school in Shimla for two year before coming back to teaching Jallandhar. Eventually, he resigned from his job in 1957 to write full-time. He also briefly edited Hindi literary journal Sarika, from 1962-63.[1][5]

His noted novels are Andhere Band Kamare (Closed Dark Rooms) and Na Aane Wala Kal(The Tomorrow That Never Comes). His plays Ashadh Ka Ek Din (One Day in Aashad) (1958), play a major role in reviving Hindi theatre in the 1960s[6] and Adhe Adhure (The Incomplete Ones or Halfway House) (1969) are highly regarded. His debut play Ashadh Ka Ek Din was first performed by Kolkata-based Hindi theatre group Anamika, under director Shyamanand Jalan (1960)[7] and subsequently by Ebrahim Alkazi at National School of Drama Delhi in 1962, which established Mohan Rakesh as the first modern Hindi playwright.[1] His plays continue to be performed and receive acclaim worldwide. One Day in the Season of Rain, Aparna Dharwadker and Vinay Dharwadker's authorised English translation of Ashadh Ka Ek Din, premiered at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States in 2010 and travelled to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region 3) in 2011.

Leheron Ke Raj Hans (The Swans of the Waves), the most noted play of Mohan Rakesh, an ancient Buddhist tale on the renunciation of the Buddha, and its aftereffects on his close family, was first written as a short story and later turned into a radio play for All India Radio Jalandhar, and broadcast under the title Sundri, though his struggle over different versions of the play lasted for nearly 20 years, before creating his masterpiece.[8] Prominent Indian directors Om Shivpuri, Shyamanand Jalan, Arvind Gaur and Ram Gopal Bajaj directed this play.[9] In 2005, this very writing process of the play, and Mohan Rakesh's diary, writings, and letters about the play, were recreated in a play titled Manuscript, by a Delhi theatre group.

His story "Uski Roti" (One's Bread) was made into an eponymous film by Mani Kaul in 1971, for which he also wrote the dialogue.[10] In July 1971, he received the Jawarharlal Nehru Fellowship for research on 'The Dramatic word', however he could not complete it and died on 3 January, 1972 at the age of 46.[5][11]

Personal life[edit]

Rakesh was first married in 1950 in an arranged marriage which ended in divorce in 1957. His second marriage in 1960 too ended soon. However, in his third marriage to Anita Aulakh in 1963, he had found love. At the time of the marriage Anita was 21 year old. After his death, she continued to live in Delhi, and now her seventies lives in East of Kailash neighbourhood. Her autobiographical work, Satrein Aur Satrein was first serialized in the Hindi magazine Sarika, and later published in 2002.[5][12]

Literary work[edit]

Novels (Upanyas)[edit]

  • Andhere Band Kamre (1961)
  • Na Aanewala Kal (1968)
  • Antaraal (1972)
  • Bakalama Khuda (1974)

Plays (Natak-Ekanki)[edit]

  • Aadhe Adhure (Halfway House, 1969)
  • Leheron Ke Raj Hans (1968)
  • Ashadh Ka Ek Din (One Day in Ashadha, 1958)
  • Mohan Rakesh ke Sampurn Natak, 1993, Rajpal. ISBN 81-7028-152-0.

Posthumously published[edit]

  • Pairon Tale Ki Zameen (1973)

(Left incomplete, later completed by Kamleshwar)[5]

  • Ande Ke Chilke, anya ekanki tatha beej natak (1973)
  • Rata Bitane Taka Tatha Anya Dhvani Nataka, 1974, Radhakrishna Prakashan. ISBN 81-7119-332-3. (Radio plays)


  • Mrichchkatikam, (Sanskrit play)
  • Shakuntalam (Sanskrit play)

Story anthologies (Kahani Sangrah)[edit]

  • 10 Pratinidhi Kahaniyan (Mohan Rakesh)
  • Rat ki Bahon Mein
  • Mohan Rakesh ki meri prem Kahaniyan


  1. ^ a b c d e Gabrielle H. Cody; Evert Sprinchorn (2007). The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press. p. 1116. ISBN 0-231-14424-5. 
  2. ^ Drama – Playwriting Awards Sangeet Natak Akademi Official listings. Archived 7 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Mohan Rakesh Biography and Works
  4. ^ Mohan Rakesh bio and books
  5. ^ a b c d "Mohan Rakesh: A Rudimentary Sketch". SOL, Delhi University. Retrieved 2016-07-18. 
  6. ^ Mohan Rakesh
  7. ^ Asha Kasbekar (2006). Pop culture India!: media, arts, and lifestyle. ABC-CLIO. p. 73. ISBN 1-85109-636-1. 
  8. ^ Simona Sawhney (2008). The modernity of Sanskrit. Univ. of Minnesota Press. p. 73. ISBN 0-8166-4996-0. 
  9. ^ More than just a manuscript! Romesh Chander, The Hindu, 18 November 2005. Archived 24 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Uski Roti (1971) New York Times
  11. ^ "Official list of Jawaharlal Nehru Fellows (1969-present)". Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund. 
  12. ^ Poonam Saxena (March 14, 2016). "The love story of Anita and Mohan Rakesh". Hindustan Times, Brunch. Retrieved 2016-07-18. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Aadhunik Hindi Natak Ka Agradoot: Mohan Rakesh
  • Mohan Rakesh’s Halfway House: Critical Perspectives, edited by Subhash Chandra. New Delhi, Asia Book, 2001, ISBN 81-7851-004-9. (Aadhe Adhure)
  • Miss Pal by Mohan Rakesh

External links[edit]