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Harivansh Rai Bachchan was an Indian poet of the Nayi Kavita literary movement (romantic upsurge) of early 20th century Hindi literature. Born in a Hindu Awadhi Indian Srivastava Kayastha family, in Allahabad in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, in British India, he was also a poet of the Hindi Kavi Sammelan. He is best known for his early work Madhushala (मधुशाला).[2] He is also the husband of social activist, Teji Bachchan, father of Amitabh Bachchan and grandfather of Abhishek Bachchan. In 1976, he received the Padma Bhushan for his service to Hindi literature.[3]

Harivansh Rai Bachchan
Bachchan on a 2003 stamp of India
Native name
हरिवंश राय
BornHarivansh Bhai In Kachhann
(1907-11-27)27 November 1907
Allahabad, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, British India (present-day Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India)
DiedJanuary 18, 2003(2003-01-18) (aged 95)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Pen nameBachchan
OccupationPoet, writer
LanguageHindustani dialects (Awadhi, Hindi, Urdu)
CitizenshipBritish (b. 1907–1948)
Indian (1948-d. 2003)
Alma materAllahabad University
Cambridge University
Notable awardsPadma Bhushan (1976)
SpouseShyama Bachchan (1926–d. 1936; her death)
Teji Bachchan (1941–d. 2003; his death)
Children2 (Amitabh Bachchan and Ajitabh Bachchan)[1]
RelativesSee Bachchan family

Early lifeEdit

From 1941 to 1957, he taught in the English Department at the Allahabad University and after that he spent the next two years at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, Cambridge University completing a PhD on W.B. Yeats.[2] He began using the pen name "Bachchan" (meaning child)instead of Srivastava when he wrote Hindi poetry. After returning to India he again took to teaching English literature at Allahabad university. He also worked at All India Radio, Allahabad simultaneously.[2]

Writing careerEdit

Bachchan came from a Hindu caste that was fluent in several Hindustani dialects (Awadhi, Hindi, Urdu) as well as Persian.[4] He incorporated a broadly Hindi-Urdu vocabulary,[5] written in Hindi script.[4] While he could not read Persian script,[4] he was influenced by Persian and Urdu poetry, particularly Omar Khayyam.[6]

Works used in moviesEdit

Bachchan's work has been used in movies and music. Examples include couplets of his work "Agneepath" are used throughout in the movie Agneepath (1990 film) again starring Amitabh Bachchan and later in the remake Agneepath (2012 film)[7]

List of worksEdit


  1. ^ Harivansh Rai Bachchan, R (2001). In the Afternoon of Time: An Autobiography. Penguin books. p. 327. When we entered Amit for school, we adopted 'Bachchan' as our family name, registering him as 'Amitabh Bachchan'; and when our second son was born, he was called 'Ajitabh Bachchan'
  2. ^ a b c d Harivanshrai Bachchan, 1907–2003 Obituary, Frontline, (The Hindu), 1–14 February 2003.
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b c West-Pavlov, Russell (2018). The Global South and Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 167. ISBN 9781108246316.
  5. ^ Williams, Mukesh; Wanchoo, Rohit (2008). Representing India: Literatures, Politics, and Identities. Oxford University Press. p. 73. ISBN 9780195692266. Harivansh Rai Bachchan recalled how some of the Urdu vocabulary used by audiences in appreciating poetic recitals in Hindi kavi sammelans was consciously changed to Sanskritized Hindi creating an artificial Hindi idiom.
  6. ^ Gopal, Madan (1996). Origin and development of Hindi/Urdu literature. Deep & Deep Publications. p. 204. He was influenced by Persian and Urdu poetry, especially by Omar Khayyam and started versifying in the Bachchalian style.
  7. ^ Harivansh Rai Bachchan (1907–2003). IMDb
  8. ^ In the Afternoon of Time: An Autobiography: Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Rupert Snell, Baccana, Harivansh Rai BacHChhan: 9780670881581: Books. 1 April 1998. ASIN 0670881589.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  1. Kaveendra, Anil Pushker. Harivanshrai Bachchan Ki Anuvad Drishti (Hindi) (Hardcover) (2013). Ruby Press & Co., New Delhi. ISBN 978-93-82395-20-1