Mohan Rakesh

Mohan Rakesh (मोहन राकेश; 8 January 1925  3 January 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 contributions to the novel, the short story, travelogue, criticism, memoir and drama.[1]

Mohan Rakesh
BornMadan Mohan Guglani[1]
(1925-01-08)8 January 1925
Amritsar, Undivided Punjab
Died3 January 1972(1972-01-03) (aged 46)
OccupationNovelist, playwright

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

Early life and education

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 postman at Dehradun, Bombay from 1947 to 1949, after that he shifted to Delhi, but found a teaching job in Jalandhar, Punjab for a short while. Subsequently, he remained Head of the Hindi department at DAV College, Jalandhar (Guru Nanak Dev University) and a school in Shimla for two years before coming back to teaching Jalandhar. 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), played 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 traveled to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region 3) in 2011.

Lahron Ke Rajhans (The Swans of the Waves), a noted play of Mohan Rakesh about 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.

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.[5][10]

Personal life

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 in 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][11]

Literary work

Novels (Upanyas)

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

Plays (Natak-Ekanki)

  • Aadhe Adhure / आधे अधूरे (1969) ISBN 978-81-8361-325-5
  • Lahron Ke Rajhans / लहरों के राजहंस (1963) ISBN 978-81-267-1595-4
  • Ashadh Ka Ek Din / आषाढ़ का एक दिन (One Day in Ashadha, 1958) ISBN 9788170284093
  • Mohan Rakesh ke Sampurn Natak, 1993, Rajpal. ISBN 81-7028-152-0.

Posthumously published

  • 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)

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

Cinematic Adaptations

Two of his literary works were adapted by the filmmaker Mani Kaul. The first film was Uski Roti made in 1969 based on the short story of the same name. For this film, Mohan Rakesh wrote the dialogs.[12] The second film was Ashadh Ka Ek Din made in 1971, based on a play by Mohan Rakesh.[13] Both these films are considered landmark films of the Indian Parallel cinema.


  1. 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. "Mohan Rakesh: A Rudimentary Sketch". SOL, Delhi University. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  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. "Official list of Jawaharlal Nehru Fellows (1969-present)". Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.
  11. Poonam Saxena (14 March 2016). "The love story of Anita and Mohan Rakesh". Hindustan Times, Brunch. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  12. Uski Roti (1971) New York Times
  13. "Talking theatre". The Hindu. 8 February 2019.

Further reading

  • 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
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