Google on Tuesday celebrated the 107th birth anniversary of Urdu language author Ismat Chughtai with a doodle. Google described Chughtai as the “grande dame of Urdu fiction”, “who championed free speech, social liberation, and gender equality through her writing”.
Ismat Chughtai was born August 21, 1911 in Uttar Pradesh, and began writing at an early age, inspired by her elder brother Mirza Azim Beg Chughtai, who was a novelist.
Chughtai’s best-known works “questioned double standards and encouraged liberation”, Google said. She wrote on the themes of female sexuality and femininity, and class conflict.
Her 1942 short stort Lihaaf, which portrays a relationship between an upper class woman and her servant, became controversial for its veiled references to homosexuality. She faced an obscenity lawsuit, and a police officer visited her house to issue court summons. Chughtai simply offered herself up for arrest.
In May, a film based on Lihaaf was launched at the Cannes Film Festival. Indian film director Abhishek Chaubey’s Dedh Ishqiya (2013), also makes a subtle reference to Chughtai’s story in its depiction of the relationship between Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit) and her maid Muniya (Huma Qureshi).
Chughtai was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 1976, in recognition of her literary achievements.