Hungry Generation [হাংরি আন্দোলন]

Tridib Mitra in 1964

Samir Roychoudhury and Utpalkumar BasuCollection of Hungryalist writing in Nepali language edited by Samir Roychoudhury
Hungryalists in Bishnupur
Subimal Basak, Subo Acharya, Malay Roychoudhury and Tridib Mitra during the movement

Samir Roychoudhury, Malay Roychoudhury and Utpal Kumar basu during the movement

Hungryalists in Kathmandu

Hungryalists in Kathmandu

Falguni Ray, The Hungryalist Legend. The sketch is drawn by Subimal Basak

Subimal Basak with his wife in 2008

College Street Coffee House

Hungryalists in Sixties

Dr Indrajit Bhattacharjee, Prof of English, Deptt of English, Osmania University


The Hungry Generation movement in Bengali literature and painting, also known as Hungryalism, Hungrealisme, Hungry Andolon, Sarvagrasa, Khutkator, Kshudhata, Bhookhi Peedhi, which shook post-colonial Bangla culture with an intensity comparable to the impact of precolonial Young Bengal social movement, was launched from Patna in November 1961. It was the brain child of Malay Roychoudhury who, after his postgraduation, was working on an essay on the philosophy of history, when he came across the book The Decline of the West written by Oswald Spengler. Though Malay did not accept the Spenglarian philosophy, he was impressed with the argument that history should not be construed in a linear progression, but flowering of a number of cultural inclinations, each with a charecteristic spiritual tone, or conception of the space within which they act. This decisive was a  break with the Hegelian concept of history as a process governed by reason.

For 22 year Malay, who had already conceived of a programme to launch a movement in Bangla literature and painting, Spengler cast a spell in veiw of the post-colonial and post-partition nightmare that had overtaken Bangla culture, especially when compared to the time and space of 19th century Bangla renaissance. Oswald Spengler’s metaphor was biological. That is, cultures go through a self-contained process of growing, reaching a crescendo, and withering away. This decay may be withstood if the culture feeds on alien diet. A culture is self-creative during ascendancy, but once the rot sets in, the culture, instead of crating from within, starts engulfing and assimilating contributions from outside. Its demand for outside elements becomes insatiable during descending. This process was termed as HUNGER by Malay when he came across Geoffrey Chaucer‘s stunning line In The Sowre Hungry Tyime. In 1959-60, post-partition Bangla polity was definitely on the downslide of sour time of putrefaction.  Today, when we look at West Bengal (India), the HUNGRYALIST premonition appears prophetic.


Socio-cultural Sarvagrasa, or devouring as a concept, that Malay was trying to put into a contemporary mold, had Indian puranic or mythological connotations as lord Shiva became Sarvagrasi when he drank the poison that up-welled in the aftermath of churning of the seas (samudra manthana) by gods and demons in order to protect the universe. Initially Malay had decided to use the term Sarvagrasi Prajanma or the Devouring Generation. He felt, quite rightly, that such a term would not be authentically acceptable, and may even carry wrong signals. He opted for the words Hungry Generation.

The word Hunger or Khaowa in Bengali is used as a signifier for various activities. For example, one may eat the breeze for a stroll, eat a somersault for a loss, eat money for bribe, eat happiness for a contended life, eat cannabis for incorrect message, eat broomstick for dismissal, eat the head for spoiling, eat fear to get terrorized, and many such images are commonplace with the word HUNGRY in Bangla or Bengali. Later, when a large number of writers, poets and painters joined the movement, Hungry was open to interpretation in a manner that a particular participant preferred. This open-endedness would have been difficult with the words Devouring Generation. Nevertheless, the apellation had later been banalized by some participants, especially by those who were trying to re-root in India after partition; they glorified poverty in the name of Hungryalist movement.

In the ‘Overviews’ which Malay wrote for Postmodern Bangla Poetry (2001) and Postmodern Bangla Short Stories (2002) both edited by his elder brother Samir (one of the founder members of the movement), he has elaborated upon the cultural, aesthetic, socio-political, literary-historical factors which forced the movement to burst upon the Bangla space in November 1961. I would prefer to draw on his arguments that, like in any other language, Bangla literary modernism had its own contradiction between radical disruption of form and traditionalism of content and ideology, as were exemplified in pre-Hungryalist literature, inasmuch as Parichay (1931), Kallol (1932) etc periodicals were managed, written, defined and canonized within the Kolkatacantric middle-class values, and identified themselves with the occidental canons and discourses, whereas Krittibas (1953) and Notun Reeti (1958) adopted a mode of counter-identification by staying within the governing structure of above ideas, with a mix of Soviet discourse in case of some authors. They combined aesthetic self-consciousness and formalist experimentation. The Hungryalists wanted to go beyond the structure of oppositions and sanctioned negations of the discourse through de-identification. Krittibas and Notun Reeti poets and writers had ultimately degenerated into traffickers of immoral discourse which completely destroyed the achievements of 19th Century reformers. The Hungryalist movement aspired to locate itself in an essentially adversarial relation to aesthetic realism.

3.Launching of Hungryalism

Malay discussed his ideas with his friend Debi Ray, elder brother Samir, and Samir’s poet-friend Shakti Chattopadhyay, and all of them agreed to launch the movement by publishing a weekly bulletin to be funded by Malay, and if required, by Samir. Shakti was requested to take up leadership, a decision later regretted by both Samir and Malay as a socio-aesthetic blunder, a decision for which they were criticized by participants who had subsequently joined the movement. Debi Ray, whose real name is Haradhon Dhara, was to be editor, and his Howrah (West Bengal) slum-residence to be used for correspondence. Haradhon Dhara belonged to subaltern caste, and the decision was intentional, as prior to him subaltern authors were not given any space at all.

However, there were printing problems at the outset as printing presses at Patna, a Hindi speaking town, did not have sufficient typefaces. The only press which could have had printed them, refused to entertain. Malay was thus forced to draft the text of the first bulletin in English. The first one-page bulletin, as follows, appeared in November 1961:-


Editor:Debi Ray    Leader:Shakti Chatterjee    Creator:Malay Roychoudhury

Poetry is no more a civilizing manoeuvre , a replanting of the bamboozled gardens; it is a holocaust, a violent and somnambulistic jazzing of the hymning five, a sowing of the tempestual Hunger.

Poetry is an activity of the narcissistic spirit. Naturally, we have discarded the blanketyblank school of modern poetry, the darling of the press, where poetry does not resurrect itself in an orgasmic flow, but words come out bubbling in an artificial muddle. In the prosed-rhyme of those born-old half-literates, you must fail to find that scream of desperation of a thing wanting to be man, the man wanting to be spirit.

Poetry of the younger generation too has died in the dressing room, as most of the younger prose-rhyme writers, afraid of the satanism, the vomitous horror, the self-elected crucifixion of the artist that makes a man a poet, fled away to hide in the hairs.

Poetry from Achintya to Ananda, and from Alokeranjan to Indraneel, has been cryptic, short-hand, cautiosly glamorous, flattered by own sensitivity like a public-school prodigy. Saturated with self-consciousness, poems have begun to appear from the tomb of logic or the bier of unsexed rhetoric.


Published by Haradhon Dhara from 269 Netaji Subhas Road, Howrah, West Bengal,India


The bulletin, which appears quite innocent today, had taken Kolkata by storm, as Debi Ray had arranged to get it distributed in one single day at the intellectual joints, offices of periodicals and college campuses. There was no cultural precedence to this kind of literary behavior for people to relate to. The move had attacked all strata of the Establishment and annoyed anyone who mattered. However, Shakti felt disturbed because of the references to the four poets named in the last paragraph. The bulletin was, therefore, revised and reprinted in December 1961 wherein the last paragraph was changed, and an additional paragraph added.

The revised bulletin was again reprinted in 1962. In November 1963 it  was printed for a  third time under the heading ‘The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry‘, and names of 25 participants printed on the flip-side. Meanwhile several other manifestoes and bulletins were published and distributed freely, which caused the number of participants to cross 40 in January 1964. Samir had brought in his friends Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Utpalkumar Basu and Binoy Majumdar; Malay had brought in his friends Subimal Basak, Sambhu Rakshit, Tapan Das, Anil Karanjai and Karunanidhan Mukhopadhyay; Subimal Basak had brought in his friends Tridib Mitra, Alo Mitra and Falguni Ray; Shakti had brought in Arupratan Basu, Pradip Choudhuri and Basudeb Dasgupta; Debi Ray had brought in Subo Acharya, Subhas Ghosh, Satindra Bhowmik, Haranath Ghose, Nihar Guha, Saileswar Ghosh, Amrita Tanay Gupta, Ramananda Chattopadhyay, Sunil Mitra, Shankar Sen, Bhanu Chattopadhyay, Ashok Chattopadhyay, Jogesh Panda and Manohar Das. Anil and Karuna, who wre painters, brought in painters Subir Chatterjee, Bibhuti Chakrabarty, Arun Datta and Bibhas Das into the fold of the movement. Hungry Generation had become a socio-cultural force to reckon with.

4.The Movement Spreads

In view of such a large and unweildy gathering, and frequent one-page publications, certain events took place which never had happened earlier. Rajkamal Choudhry carried the movement into the domain of Hindi literature; Ameeq Hanfee into Urdu; Pank Ghentey Pataley group in Assam into Ahomiya; Parijat into Nepali literature; and a group in the then East Pakistan comprising of Rafeeq Azad, Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Abdul Mannan Sayad, Asad Choudhury, Shahidur Rahaman, Mustafa Anwar, Faruque Siddiqui, Mahadeb Saha, Shahnur Khan Kaji Rab carried the dynamics to Bangladeshi literature.

The movement gathered a decentering quality, inasmuch as each participant was free to publish a bulletin, which Shakti, Utpal, Binoy, Anil, Karuna and Rajkamal had done, though funded either by Malay or Samir. The handbill-type bulletins were also aesthetically anti-occidental, since they could not be preserved for an immortal space in history. More than 100 bulletins were published in the movement’s life-span between 1961 and 1965, out of which only a dozen or so are traceable.

Excepting for Debi Ray, Tridib and Alo Mitra, who were stationed at Howrah, across Kolkata, most of the participants came from outside the metropolis. They belonged to the periphery. Subimal, like Malay, came from Patna; Samir was Chaibasa-based; The Ghosh brothers, Subhas and Saileswar, were from Balurghat; Shakti was from Jaynagar-Majilpur; Basudeb Dasgupta from Ashoknagar;all the painters were from Varanasi; Pradip Choudhuri, originally from Tripura, was based at Santiniketan; Subo Acharya was at Bishnupur and Ramananda Chattopadhyay at Bankura. The Hungryalist movement thus got spatial qualities insted of time-centric features of earlier post-Tagore literary generations. Hungryalism emerged as a post-colonial counter-discourse. In the first bulletin itself the movement gave a battle-cry against Modern Poetry, as well as against the Tyranny of Logic. Till then the the concept of Modernism and logical progression of the text was considered the ultimate in literary canons.

5. The Breaking Away From Past

From 1961 onward as the movement gathered momentum and number of participants, by 1963 it was on the verge of activating extrication from occidental canons and discourse, which was articulated in a tri-lingual (Bengali-Hindi-English) cyclostyled bulletin by Subimal Basak and Rajkamal Choudhry, as under:-

PREVAILING CANONS: 1.Establishment 2.Tyranny 3. Insiders 4. Elite high-brow culture 5. Satisfied 6. Cohesive 7. Showy 8. Sex as known 9. Socialite 10. Lovers 11. Ecstasy 12. Unmoved 13. Hatred as camouflage 14. Art films 15. Art 16. Sugam Sangeet (Tagore songs) 17. Dream 18. Tutored language 19. Redeemed 20.Framed 21. Conformist 22.Indifferent 23. Mainstream 24. Curiosity 25. Endocrine 26. Conclusions inevitable 27. Ceremony 28. Throne 29. Entertainer 30. Self-projecting 31. How am I 32. Symmetrical 33. Accountants of prosody 34. Revising poems 35. Fantasy’s game.

HUNGRYALIST CANONS: 1. Anti-Establishment 2. Protester 3. Outsiders 4. Commoners’ culture 5. Unsatisfied 6. Brittle 7. Raw-bone 8. Sex as unknown 9. Sociable 10. Mourners 11. Agony 12. Turbulent 13. Real hatred 14. All films 15. Life 16. Any song 17. Nightmare 18. Gut language 19. Unredeemed 20. Contestetory 21. Dissident 22. Struck ethically 23. Watershed 24. Anxiousness 25. Adrenalin 26. No end to unfolding 27. Celebration 28. Abdication 29. Thought provoker 30. Self-effacing 31. How are you 32.Tattered and decanonized 33. Extravagance 34. Continuation revision of life 35. Imagination’s flight.

6. The Movement Falters

At the peak of the movement, Binoy Majumdar developed schizoid problems. Shakti was pressurised by literary guardians to leave the movement and issue anti-Hungryalist statements. Sandipan Chattopadhyay was lured by a mass circulation periodical with an assurance to publish his novel provided he leaves the movement. Sunil Gangopadhyay, in his editorial in Krittibas, castigated the movement. As a result fence-sitters were caught in an intellectual bind. These writers ultimately devoted themselves to prolific commercial writing. By the middle of 1964 only Utpal, Samir, Malay, Debi, Subimal, Subhas, Saileswar, Pradip, Karuna, Anil, Tridib, Alo, Falguni, Subo, Basudeb and Ramananda remained in the movement.

The departure of fence-sitters proved to be a positive factor. The process hastened the collapse of aesthetic realism, leading to gradual deconstruction and dissolution of high and subaltern cultural distinctions. Hungryalist texts developed subversive and multi-vocal semiotic and semantic features. The monocentric correctness as demanded by the then ruling academicians were being constantly attacked by the participants. In case of prose writers such as Samir, Falguni, Subhas, Basudeb and Subimal, as well as the dramas written by Malay, textual reality developed as complexities of heteroglossia.

The academic standards had started dwindling in West Bengal one and half decade after the departure of the Empire, mainly because of the incessant post-partion influx which corroded the Bangla intellectual and social fabric. There were no multi-disciplinary critics comparable to 19th century stalwarts. The critics themselves were colonial constructs. The were oblivious of the fact that all knowledge is partial, embodied knowledge, produced by particular groups, communities, sects, governments, media, universities, schools, families, localities and persons, for particular purposes, within particular contexts. Their claim to speak on behalf of all Bengalies, restricted plurality and tolerance.

In order to denigrate the Hungryalist movement, the print media-based critics started comparing the Hungryalist movement with Angry Young Men of England and Beat Generation of USA, assuming that texts could be independent of the motherland of the writer. This was compunded by the fact that Allen Ginsberg, who came to India in 1962, had met some Hungryalists at Kolkata, Patna, Varanasi and Chaibasa in 1963. It was Ginsberg whose poetry and religious life was changed completely because of the Hungryalists. Ginsberg could never again write in the form and technique of Howl and Kaddish; his post-India poems developed features of Bangla poetry.

7. Establishment Stirred

It had become clear by the end of 1963 that three participants, viz., Malay, Debi and Subimal had become key figures of the movement who had picked up certain anti-establishment modules from stories about the activities of Young Bengal Thinkers, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and M.K.Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi). They were being called the Hungryalist Troika and cartoons on them  had started appearing in dailies like Basumati, Ananda Bajar Patrika, Jugantar, Jugantar and The Statesman.

Tabloids and glossy magazines such as Desh, Chatushparna, Darpan, Amrita, Now, Janata, Link, Ananda Bajar, Blitz, Naranari, Jalsa etc attempted to sensationalize news about Hungryalists. The daily Jugantar wrote its main editorial twice for them. The daily Searchlight of Patna issued a special supplement on the movement. In other Indian language periodicals that covered Hungryalist news were Dharmayug, Gyanodaya, Dinaman, Saptahik Hindustan, Nayee Dhara, Yugaprabhat, Vatayan, Anima, Ingit, Lahar, Jansatta, Asso, Adhikaran, Bharatmail etc.

One evening Subimal was encircled and threaten in front of the College Street Coffee House in Kolkata by a literary group comprising of Bimal Raichaudhuri, Shankar Chattopadhyay, Pranab Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Belal Choudhuri, Bijon Ray, Tarapada Ray, Shanti Kumar Ghosh and Shakti Chattopadhyay. Meanwhile Sunil Gangopadhyay, who was in USA on a USAID funded trip, wrote a bizarre letter to Malay against the movement, a letter which has since gained special significance in Bangla literary history.

During this turmoil the undernoted political manifesto of the Hungryalists created a great cultural backlash and alerted the Bangla administration.

HUNGRY GENERATION BULLETIN NO 15 (The Political Manifesto of the Hungryalist Movement).

1. To de-politicise the soul of each solitary individual; 2. To let every individual realize that existence is pre-political. 3. To let it be noted historically that politics invites the man of the third quality, aesthetically the most lowest substratum of society, at its service. 4. To make it clear that the conceptions of Elite and that of the Politician differ absolutely after the death of Gandhi. 5. To declare the belief that all intellectual fakeries called political theory are essentially the founts of fatal and seductive lies erupting out of abominable irresponsibility. 6. To demarcate the actual position of a politician in a modern society, somewhere between the dead body of a harlot and a donkey’s tail. 7. To never respect a politician, to whatever species or organism he may belong to. 8. To never escape from politics, and at the same time, neither let politics escape from the terror of our aesthetic being. 9. To remodel the basis upon which political creeds are founded.

Today, when we look at Indian politics we are stunned by this prophetic discourse delivered more than five decades earlier. The Hungryalists further confounded the situation by the slogan PLEASE REMOVE YOUR MASK printed on paper-masks of jokers, demons, animals, ghosts, Hindu gods/goddesses etc., and mailed to chief and other ministers, chief and other secretaries, district magistrates, police big bosses, commercial authors, newspaper editors, sundry politicians, that is, anyone who mattered. The action was a piece of sheer genius which has become a part of literary folklore. Another action comparable to actions of 19th century Young Bengal Writers was distribution of turmeric-smeared Hindu wedding cards complete with symbols of butterfly and palanquin, wherein the ruling school of poetry was vehemently attacked, and the intellectuals indirectly called headless.

8. Establishment Strikes Back

Manifestoes appeared regularly on short story, drama, religion, criticism, painting, discourse, obscenity, style, diction etc during the peak of 1963-64. Alongside, magazines edited by Hungryalists started appearing quite frequently. Malay edited Zebra. Tapan Das edited Pratibimba. Subimal edited Pratidwandi. Debi edited Chinha. Tridib and Alo edited Unmarga and The Waste Paper. Shambhu edited Blues. Pradip edited Swakal/Phooo. The poems and fictions printed therein drew the attention of print-media writers who charged the authors to be swathed in sexual hunger. Literary and news-magazines whose hegemony was threatened, continued their tirade against the Hungryalists almost everyday.

Written and verbal complaints against the Hungryalists to the Chief Minister of West Bengal and Kolkata Police Commissioner continued pouring in. There were various allegations ,including, conspiracy against the Establishment, corrupting the youth, defamation, violations of Press Act, disruption of public decency etc. In the begining of 1964, Kolkata was agog with rumours of an imminent action against Malay, Debi and Subimal, a scenario that even the Dadaists and Surrealists could not have contemplated. A Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police, who later became famous for Naxalite killings, was, incidentally, maternal uncle of Tarapada Ray, a Krittibas-group poet. Things obviously moved quite fast. Sunil Gangopadhyay had just arrived back from USA.

On September 2nd 1964 arrest warrants were issued against eleven Hungryalists on charges of conspiracy against the Establishment (Section 120 of Indian Penal Code) and obscenity in literature (Section 292 of Indian Penal Code); Samir was additionally charged with corrupting the youth (Section 294 of Indian Penal Code). Samir, Malay, Subhas, Saileswar, Debi and Pradip were arrested. As a result, Pradip was rusticated from Visva Bharati; Utpal was dismissed from his professor’s job, Malay and Samir were suspended from service; Debi and Subimal were transferred out of Kolkata by their employers. Samir and Malay, who were handcuffed and rope tied around their waist, had to present themselves before a specifically constituted Investigating Board  which interrogated them for several hours to find out whether they were really involved in any conspiracy.

This period of the Hungryalist movement is the murkiest in the history of Bengali literature. Shakti and Sandipan, who had moved out of the movement about a year back, volunteered and recorded testimonies against Malay (Shakti on 18 February 1965 and Sandipan on 15 March 1965). Subo, Basudeb and Ramananda fled from Kolkata. Subhas and Saileswar signed good-conduct bonds (on 2nd September 1964 itself to extricate themselves from Police action) wherein they indicated that they had nothing to do with the Hungry Generation movement. They later volunteered to testify against Malay during Malay’s trial in Bankshal Court. However, 40 years later when Hungry Generation movement became a legendary proposition, obviously a salable one, these two Ghose brothers were the first to claim that they were the genuine Hungryalists! In view of the weak character of the majority of Hungryalists, who testified against Malay in Court, the movement withered away in May 1965. It was in May 1965 that Malay was charge-sheeted by the State of West Bengal on charges of obscenity in his poem Prachanda Baidyuitk Chhutar, and rest of the ten were set free. (Case No. GR 579 of 1965, in the Court of the Presidency Magistrate, 9th Court, Kolkata).

9.Movement Takes Flight

During the short span of  1961-65 the movement had created an indelible impact on Bangla literature. In an interview to Dhurjati Chanda, Malay had stated that Hungryalism was the first and the last iconoclastic venture in Bangla literature which in retrospect now appears to be a socio-political aesthetic truimph, that artistic freedom in which life was put at stake and rules of which required brazen acts of impudence to be legitimised by manifestoes. In another interview he gave to Anadiranjan Biswas, Malay had said that the Hungryalist defiant ventures were attempts to wrest power of definition, distinction and evaluation from those who claimed themselves to be authorities of literary discourse. The writers of West Bengal and Bangladesh who were called 1950s poet were writing pale and stale poems till 1959; they changed completely only after the implosion of the Hungryalist movement.

It is  a different story that Malay had to go through a 35 month long ordeal of arrest, conviction by lower court (on 28 December 1965) and ultimately exoneration by High Court of Kolkata. However, the movement did create a world-wide stir that had brought Bangla literature into international limelight again. Both English and Spanish versions of TIME magazine wrote about the movement. Periodicals in Europe, USA, Latin America, Australia and Asia (such as City Lights Journal, San Francisco Earthquake, Eco, El Corno Emplumado, Kulchur, Klactoveedsedsteen, Burning Water, Intrepid, Salted Feathers, Evergreen Review, Panaroma, Trace, El Rehelite, Imago, Work, Iconolatre, Whe’re, Ramparts, Los Angeles Free Press, My Own Mag, Vincent etc) either printed, reprinted or brought out special issues.

In Hindi, Sharad Deora wrote a novel titled College Street Ka Naya Maseeha based on the life and works of Hungryalists; Phanishwarnath Renu wrote Ram Pathak Ke Diary Se; Dharmaveer Bharati and S.H.Vatsayana Ajneya wrote quite frequently about them in the periodicals they edited, viz., Dharmayug and Dinaman; Asok Shahane, Dilip Chitre and Arun Kolatkar hailed them in Marathi; Umashankar Joshi introduced them in Gujarat; Ameeq Hanfee translated and introduced them to Urdu readers. The Bengali intelligentsia had not bargained for this international exposure and publicity. Reputed academicians of the time viz., Sukumar Sen, Asitkumar Bandyopadhyay, Haraprasad Mitra, Bhabatosh Datta, Ujjwalkumar Majumdar, Kshetra Gupta, Saroj Bandyopadhyay, Sashubhushan Dasgupta, Sukumar Bhattacharya, Debiprasad Bhattacharya, Bhudeb Choudhury, Tarapada Mukhopadhyay, Chinmohan Sehanobis and others preferred to ignore the movement. Some academicians even persuaded academicians of other Indian languages to ignore the Hungryalist impact. Nevertheless, intellectuals from other countries, such as Gary Snyder, Octavio Paz and Ernesto Cardenal sought the Hungryalists when the visited India.

That the Hungryalist movement had shattered the colonial canons and had encircled the centre by a new epistemic periphery, became clear with the emergence of powerful post-Hungryalist writers and poets such as Subimal Mishra, Arunesh Ghosh, Prasun Bandyopadhyay, Pradip Das Sharma, Atindriya Pathak, Kamal Chakraborty, Barin Ghoshal, Saswata Shikdar, Anuradha Mahapatra, Ajit Ray, Aloke Biswas, Pranab Pal, Sankarnath Chakraborty, Arun Basu, Sridhar Mukhopadhyay, Dipankar Datta, Debdas Acharya, Biswajit Sen, Achin Dasgupta, Bikash Sarkar, Abani Dhar, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Samiran Ghosh, Nitya Malakar, Manab Chakraborty, Aloke Goswami, Moulinath Biswas, Madhumoy Pal, Koushik Chakraborty and a host of other writers. Any literary difiance, Hungryalism being the most potent in post-colonial Bangla literature, embodies the provocation of a literary code into a socio-cultural and political code. The ultra-leftist nazalite political explosion in Bangla polity occurred obviously immediately after the Hungryalist canonical implosion in literature and painting.

10. Percolation of Hungryalist Aesthetics

Some of today’s critics have opined that the main reason for aesthetic percolation of the spirit of the movement, and its power to withstand the steamroller of Establishment juggernaut, may be found in the range of experience and variety of erudition of the participants who refused to hang around vernacular newspaper offices or the joints of political masters as has been the case with most of the pre-Hungryalist writers, especially of Krittibas and Notun Reeti brands. Those were also the contributing factors to Hungryalist texts which could gather propensities of hybridity, sycreticity, rhizomatizm, heterogeneity, optativeness, disjunctiveness, immanence, irony, logical cracks etc.; Hungryalist painting imbued de-layering, de-proportioning, multi-scaling, de-perspectivisation, de-structuring, fragmentariness and such other poly-hued melanges. Poet Falguni Ray and painter Anil Karanjai have become underground cult-figures after their death.

Two manifestos of the Hungryalist movement which are quoted by critics either to argue for or against their texts, are as under:-


1. To never imitate the reality of Aristotle, but to take the unenamelled whoring reality by surprise under the genital of Art. 2. To let speechlessness burst into speech without breaking the silence. 3. To let loose a creative furore, in order to undo the done-for world and start afresh from chaos. 4. To exploit the matrix of senses except that of a writer. 5. To disclose the belief that world and existence are justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon. 6. To accept all doubts and despairs rather than to be content to live with the sense made by others. 7. To lash out against the values of the bi-legged career-making animals. 8. To abjure all meretricious blandishments for the sake of absolute sincerity. 9. To stop writing and painting beyond the point of self-realization.


1. The merciless exposure of the self in its entirety. 2. To present in all nakedness all aspects of the self and things before it. 3. To catch a glimpse of the exploded self at a particular moment. 4. To challenge every value with a view to accepting or rejecting the same. 5. To consider everything at the start to be nothing but ‘thing’ with a view to testing whether it is living or lifeless.6. Not to take reality as it is but to examine it in all its aspects.7. To seek to find out a mode of communication, by abolishing the accepted modes of prose and poetry which would instantly establish communication between the poet and his reader. 8. To use the same words in poetry as are used in ordinary conversation. 9. To reveal the sound of the word, used in ordinary conversation, more sharply in the poem. 10.To break loose the traditional association of words and to coin unconventional and here-to-fore unaccepted combination of words. 11. To reject traditional forms of poetry , and allow to take its original forms. 12. To admit without qualification that poetry is the ultimate religion of man. 13. To transmit dynamically the message of the restless existence and the sense of disgust in a razor-sharp language. 14. Personal ultimatum.

The reasons why these two manifestos are referred to by critics while analyzing the movement in the perspective of preceding literary thinkers are that the arguments put forth were completely different from what Buddhadeva Basu, Dipti Tripathi, Abu Sayeed Ayub, Debiprasad Chattopadhyay, Al Mahmood, Shamsur Rahaman, Binoy Ghosh, Nirendranath Chakraborty, Shankha Ghosh etc., had been articulating till then. The Hungryalists not only drew upon words, experiences, epithets, incidents, diction, hitherto considered taboo by Bhadralok gentry, but they virtually dismantled the single-dimension metropolitan Bangla literature. They introduced grammatically prohibited Guruchandali (upper caste and lower caste intermixing) in poetry and prose, that is, mixing of words used by Brahmins and Untouchables.

The Hungryalists were disgusted and impatient with the slothful, sluggish pace of change. When the famous Hungryalist Troika submitted a shoe-box for book review to the newspaper with largest circulation, an action that would have definitely been appreciated by Ramtanu Lahiri, Radhanath Sikdar and Pyarichand Mitra, the anti-Establishment luminaries of 19th century, the Hungryalists were waging war against canonical hegemony, and bombarding modernist boundaries.

The Hungryalist authors and painters nativised Bangla discourse. The above two manifestos aspired to regain the pre-colonial philosophy of ATMAN wherein culture and nature are not considered to be separate spheres. The two manifestos refused to view culture as the product of traumatic self-extrication from nature. The pre-Hungryalist writers and painters reflexively depended upon the idea of culture as the formation of subjectivity out of the primitive unconciousness of matter. The Hungryalists, on the contrary, were thrilled with an awareness of value immanent in the relations between the natural and the human as had been exemplified in the fictions CHHATHAMATHA by Subimal Basak, AAMAAR CHABI by Subhas Ghosh, KATHER PHOOL by Falguni Ray, RANDHANSHALA by Basudeb Dasgupta, prose pieces in Malay Roychoudhury’s BHENNO GALPO, and the poems POPER SAMADHI by Utpalkumar Basu, JANOAR and AAMAAR VIETNAM by Samir Roychoudhury, CHOUSHATTI BHUTER KHEYA by Pradip Choudhuri and JAKHAM by Malay Roychoudhury. All of these works are considered exceptional today.

11. After the Movement

After the movement withered away with the commencement of Malay’s trial, when Subhas, Saileswar, Sandipan and Shakti became police witness and testified against Malay in Bankshal Court, the writers and poet branched out of their own. Like most of the post-partition families, Subhas, Basudeb and Saileswar joined the governmental leftists, participating in anti-people activities; Subo Acharya became devotedly religious and a       desciple of god-man Anukul Thakur of Deoghar; Anil and Karuna joined the naxalite movement for a few months; Tridib and Alo gave up writing; Utpal departed for London; Pradip shifted his craft from Bengali to Frence; Falguni resorted to excessive drug abuse and died; Debi joined the Radical Humanists; Malay and Samir preferred to keep silent for more than a decade.

During the post-naxal period, 10-12 years after Malay’s trial, some literary aspirants in North Bengal and Tripura suddenly started calling themselves Hungryalists, though they were unaware of the manifestos of the Hungry Generation movement and, obviously, major Hungryalist works were unavailable to them. They simply tried to be different from the commercial mainstream. From among them, names that crop up from time to time, are Arunesh Ghosh, Nitya Malakar, Jibotosh Das, Aloke Goswami, Rasaraj Nath, Selim Mallik, Satwik Nandi, Arun Banik, Sankha Pallab Aditya, Raja Sarkar, Bikash Sarkar, Samiran Ghosh, Prabir Seal, Subrata Paul, Arun Basu and Pranab Debnath.

With the reemergence of Malay and Samir in the late 1980s things have completely changed. A new generation of critics, academicians and readers has emerged for whom the Hungryalists are legends. Samir gave this observation a proper premise with his periodical HAOWA49. Malay, one may like to say, returned with a vengeance, and his novels, drama, poetry, essays, interviews etc., drew respectful attention of the earlier generation who had once denigrated the Hungryalists. With the range of Hungryalist corpus, command over Bangla language, and the depth of knowledge and variety of experience of these authors, whose avante garde discourse and discursive practices had once created literary and social avalanche, they have made history. Researchers are doing their best to unearth the secret magic of these revolutionaries of West Bengal. Bengali teachers have written Ph D and MPhill dissertations on the movement as well as individual poets.

12. Impostor Hungryalists

Since Hungryalism became a famous literary and cultural movement, there have been some impostors  who are trying to cash in the marketability of the fame. Someone named Samir Choudhury (not Samir Roychoudhury) has brought out a collection titled HUNGRY GENERATION RACHANA SANKALAN. He has included writers who were never in the movement. His editorial does not reflect a proper knowledge of the movement. He is not even aware of the writers and poets who created the avante garde turmoil and against whom arrest warrants were issued. The anthology is selling anyway in the name of Hungryalists!

Links:  (History of the Movement with Photographs of that period)  (Interview of Malay Roychoudhury)  (Hungryalist Influence on Allen Ginsberg) (Letters written by Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti etc to Malay)  (Essays on the movement written by academicians) ( Poems of Hungryalists)  (Google profile of Malay Roychoudhury) A review by June Nandy ) (History of Hungryalism ) (Aurobinda and Hungryalists)

An Important Notification:


Malay Roychoudhury


About Hungryalist Archive

Keep reading and get enlightened
This entry was posted in Hungryalism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.