Biography of Ismat Chughtai

Ismat Chughtai was an Indian author and filmmaker. Writing in the Hindustani language Urdu, Chughtai wrote novels and short stories and made films that explored female sexuality, a woman's role in society, and class conflict from a Marxist perspective. Chughtai is a leading figure in the world of Urdu literature.

Born in northern India, while the country was still a colony of Britain, Chughtai grew up greatly influenced by her six brothers, as her four sisters married while Chughtai was still young. Chughtai has said that in her family they read not only the Quran but also the Bible and Bhagavad Gita. Chughtai pursued education, earning both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education. She began writing in secret and then started publishing pieces in the late 1930s. Her brother was an established novelist, and some readers mistook her early work for his.

Chughtai was a liberal Muslim, sometimes referred to as progressive Muslim. Many of her works have been banned in South Asia for content that has offended conservative Muslims. Chughtai was charged with obscenity for the depictions of sexuality in "The Quilt," a case she won when her accusers could not identify any explicitly obscene language in the text.

Study Guides on Works by Ismat Chughtai

Published in 1942, Ismat Chughtai's Urdu short story "The Quilt" ("Lihaaf") is about a young girl who is molested by her mother's adopted sister, Begum Jaan. Narrated from the perspective of the unnamed young girl, the story first focuses on Begum...