Nurul Momen

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Nurul Momen
Native name নুরুল মোমেন
Born (1908-11-25)25 November 1908
Alphadanga (presently in Faridpur), Jessore, Bangladesh
Died 16 February 1990(1990-02-16) (aged 81)
Gulshan, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Nationality Bangladeshi
Other names Natyaguru
Alma mater University of Dhaka
University of Calcutta
Occupation Playwright, writer, educationist, theatre director
Notable work Nemesis · Rupantor
Spouse(s) Amena Momen (d. 1993)
Children 4
Awards Bangla Academy Literary Award (1961)
Ekushey Padak (1978)

Nurul Momen (25 November 1908 – 16 February 1990) was a Bangladeshi playwright, educator, director, broadcast personality, and poet.[1][2][3] He served as a faculty member in the capacities of professor and dean at the faculty of Law in the University of Dhaka. He also served as a lawyer. He is called "Father of Bangladeshi theatre" and "Natyaguru[1] of Bangladesh." 'Natyaguru' (Alternative English spellings:- Natyoguru, Natyo Guru, Natya Guru, Nattoguru, Natto Guru etc.) is a Bangla, as well as a Sanskrit and Hindi word. Roughly translated it carries the meaning, something like, " The doyen or grand teacher of drama and theatre".

Early life and education[edit]

Momen was born on 25 November 1908. His father was Nurul Arefin, a physician and Zamindar (Land Lord) in Alfadanga, of the then Jessore district. (After the partition of India, from 1947, Alphadanga is in Faridpur district.) He went to primary school in Calcutta and was admitted in 1916 into Khulna Zila School. At the age of ten he wrote his first poem, Shondhya (Evening), in the same verse as Tagore's Shonar Tory. In 1919 it was published in the journal Dhrubotara. In 1920, he was enrolled in the Dhaka Muslim High School where he resided in the Dafrin Hostel. After matriculation in 1924 he studied at Dhaka Intermediate College. Passing intermediate, he enrolled for a BA at the newly established Dhaka University on 1926.

While he was residing at "Muslim Hall" of Dhaka University, the various halls staged the then new play Muktadhara by Rabindranath Tagore. After some initial resistance, Momen received the main role of "Botu". This ignited his passion for drama and even earned him the first prize, but it was also the first time that he performed as actor himself.

After receiving his B.A. from Dhaka University in 1929, he studied law at the Department of Law, University of Calcutta. Upon completing his B.L. examinations in 1936 he started practicing at the Calcutta High Court.


Radio work[edit]

After the foundation of All India Radio in Dhaka, 1939, Momen picked up on the opportunity of the new medium and became its first Muslim author. In 1941 he wrote and directed the comedy Rupantor (Transformation) for the radio. With its progressive plot and a female main character it differed vastly form traditional Muslim plays and was actually the first modern drama of Bangladesh. Upon initiative of the critic, the poet and literary critic Mohitlal Majumder, the play was also published in the yearly Puja issue of the newspaper Anandabazar.

While he was in London for higher studies from 1948 on, Nurul Momen and his friend Nazir Ahmed started a BBC Bengali program, a weekly one-hour format called Anjuman where Momen was responsible for the literary content.

Teaching career[edit]

Rather than continuing to practice law even before the partition of India, Momen joined the faculty of Law at the Dhaka University in 1945.[4] There he was known for including elements from literature and music into the law classes. He encouraged Munier Chowdhury to get interested in theater and become a playwright. Momen encouraged him to read George Bernard Shaw and got many other students interested in theatre. He later translated You Never Can Tell. From 1948 until 1951 Momen was on leave from the university, undergoing higher studies in England and graduating in Law from London University.

Literary works[edit]

  • Rupantor
  • Nemesis
  • Yadi Emon Hoto (1961)
  • Naya Khandan (1961)
  • Alochhaya (1962)
  • Shatkara Ashi
  • Ainer Antorale
  • Rupolekha
  • Bhai Bhai Shobai
  • Eituku ei Jibontate
  • Underneath the Law
  • We are Brothers All
  • Is Law An Ass
  • At the Altar of the Law
  • Jeman Ichchha Temon
  • Adikkheta
  • London Probashe
  • Ha-jo-bo-ro-la
  • Forbidden Pleasures
  • Andhokartai Alo (1964)
  • Thik Cholar Poth
  • Eituku ei Jibontate
  • Yadi Emon Hoto (1961)
  • Thik Cholar Poth
  • Phone bivrat
  • Bismritir Monikothay
  • Huckleberry Finner dusshahoshik ovijan (Translation)
  • Midsummer Nights Dream (Translation :- Moddhogrishsho Raater Shopno)
  • Oporajito ( Translation of "Unvanquished" by Howard Fast)
  • Underneath the Law
  • We are Brothers All
  • Is Law An Ass
  • At the Altar of the Law
  • As You Like It


  • Obtained first position in acting in the first ever drama competition of Dhaka University, 1927, the role was Botu in Muktodhara by Tagore.
  • Becoming First at the First Binet intelligence test held at Dhaka University, 1928. This test later gained approval as IQ test.
  • Bangla Academy Award in 1961.
  • Sitara-e-Imtiaz, 1967 (which he renounced and destroyed in 1971)[5]
  • Ekushey Padak in 1978.

Personal life[edit]

In 1936 Momen married Amena Momen, née Khatun (died 1993). They had four children - Momena Momen Saara (died 1995), Ahmad Nurul Momen (died 2009), Hammad Nurul Momen and Faisal Mahmud Tukun Nurul Momen.


On 25 November 2008, his birth centenary was celebrated at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).[1] His 102nd birthday was celebrated in November 2010 with a week-long festival, organized again by the BSA together with the Aurony Mohona International Foundation (AMIF).[6]


  1. ^ a b c Mahmud, Jamil (27 November 2008). "Birth centenary of Professor Nurul Momen". The Daily Star. Retrieved 18 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Rubin, Don (1998). The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Asia. Taylor & Francis. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-415-05933-6. 
  3. ^ Bangla Natyashahitter Itihash, the most authoritative reference book on Bengali theater
  4. ^ Mahmud, Faisal (2012). "Momen, Nurul". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  5. ^ Mahmud, Dr.Faisal (9 December 2010). "Natyaguru Nurul Momen (Part 2)". The New Nation. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  6. ^ Mahmud, Jamil (24 November 2010). "Tribute to a Theatre Icon". The Daily Star. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 

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