Biography of Amrita Pritam – Indian Novelist

Amrita Pritam was an Indian writer and poet. Amrita Pritam is considered to be the first prominent female Punjabi writer, novelist and poet of the 20th century. Her writings are equally loved by the people of India and Pakistan. During her more than 6 decades long career, she produced more than a hundred works, including poetry, essays, novels, biographies, etc. She was honoured with prestigious awards like ‘Sahitya Akademi’, ‘Bharatiya Jnanpith’, and ‘Padma Vibhushan’. One of her famous novels titled ‘Pinjar’ was made into a film and was a award winning film. She also wrote an autobiography in which she expressed her audacity by writing about her personal life, which can be considered ‘controversial’ by many in contemporary India as well.

Biography of Amrita Pritam

Biography of Amrita Pritam

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Table of Contents

NameAmrita Pritam[1]
Date of Birth31 August 1919
Place of BirthGujranwala, Punjab, British India (now Pakistan)
Father’s NameKartar Singh Hitkari
Mother’s NameRaj Bibi
Death31 October 2005

Early Life of Amrita Pritam

Amrita Pritam was born on August 31, 1919 in Gujranwala, Punjab. She was the only child of a Sikh couple Raj Bibi, who was a school teacher and Kartar Singh who was a poet, a scholar of the Braj language, and the editor of a literary journal. She grew up in a spiritual environment and inherited her love for writing from her father.

Her family was very religious because her father was a “preacher” – a preacher of Sikhism. Amrita Pritam’s grandmother used separate utensils to serve Hindus and Muslims. Amrita Pritam was a critical thinker since childhood and opposed such practices.

Although born into a traditional Sikh family, Amrita lost faith in God at the age of 11, when her mother Raj Bibi died. After her mother’s death, Amrita moved to Lahore, where she was brought up by her father. After her mother’s death, Amrita Pritam found solace in writing and started writing at a very young age. She became a published writer in 1936, when she was just 17 years old.

After releasing the first collection of poems titled ‘Amrit Lehran’ (“Immortal Waves”), Amrita Pritam has published at least six collections of poems from 1936 to 1943. Losing her mother turned her into a strong and independent woman who expressed audacity in her writings.

Though she began her journey as a romantic poet, soon she shifted gears, and she joined the ‘Progressive Writers Movement’ to inspire people through her literary work. The movement was launched in British India before partition and the members were mostly left-facing and anti-imperialist. Later, she came up with a collection of works of ‘Lok Peed’ (People’s Anguish) in 1944, which criticized the British raj for the ‘Bengal famine of 1943′ and the country’s then war-torn economy.

Also Read : Biography of Amarkant

Personal life and Legecy of Amrita Pritam

Amrita Pritam had an affair with Pritam Singh, the son of a wealthy businessman from Lahore. The wedding took place in 1935, when Amrita Pritam was in her mid-teens. They had two children together, a son and a daughter. In her autobiography written years after her marriage, Amrita Pritam admitted that she did not have a healthy relationship with her husband and her marriage was an unhappy experience.

In 1944, she met a fellow poet named Sahir Ludhianvi. Though she was already married to Pritam Singh, Amrita Pritam was firmly attracted to Sahir, whose dedication she later wrote in her autobiography ‘Rasidi Ticket’ (Revenue Stamp). She finally left her husband Pritam Singh in 1960, when her fascination for Sahir reached its peak. However, Amrita Pritam always knew that it was almost impossible for her to have an effective relationship with Sahir Ludhianvi, when another woman, singer Sudha Malhotra came into Sahir’s life.

Amrita Pritam later found solace in the companionship of Indrajeet Imroz, a prominent artist and writer. Although the couple never formally married, they spent more than forty years of their life together. Their love life together is almost the subject of undying with a book titled ‘Amrita Imroz: A Love Story’.

In her stellar career, Amrita Pritam wrote a total of 28 novels, 18 anthropology (prose), 16 miscellaneous prose, and wrote five short stories. Many of her works are working as inspiration for many. Many of her works have been converted into films. In 2007, noted Indian lyricist Gulzar released an album, originally a collection of poems by Amrita Pritam recited by lyricist Gulzar.

Career of Amrita Pritam

While Amrita Pritam started her career as a romantic poet, her career took a significant turn as she was influenced by the feminist movement. She played an active role in the Progressive Writer’s Movement, the impact of which was seen in her collection, Lok Peed (“People’s Anguish”, 1944), which openly criticised the war – tone economy, after the Bengal famine of 1943. After independence, she was part of Guru Radha Kisan’s initiative to assemble the first Janata Library in Delhi which was inaugurated by Aruna Asaf Ali and Balraj Sahni.

Partition of India

Amrita Pritam migrated to Delhi after partition of India in 1947. Subsequently, in 1947, while she was pregnant with her son, and travelling from Dehradun to Delhi, she expressed anguish on a piece of paper over partition which later became undying in a poem. The poem ‘Ajj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu’ depicts the horrors that took place during the partition of India. Till 1961, Amrita Pritam worked in the Punjabi service of All India Radio in Delhi. This change in her life made her a kind of feminist. Many of her stories and poems depicted the unhappy experiences of her married life. Her works, including her autobiography, have been translated into English, French, Danish and Japanese and other languages from Punjabi and Urdu, including her autobiographical works Black Rose and Rasidi Ticket ( Revenue Stamp). Many of her stories were made into films. Her novel ‘Pinjar’ which made a film, was an award-winning film. 

Amrita Pritam’s contribution to Literature

Amrita Pritam, the best and most popular poet in Punjabi, is considered among the libraries whose works have been translated into different languages of the world. Amrita Pritamji gives a very clear and exciting description of the philosophy of social life in her works.

She has carried out her brilliant writings on almost all kinds of literature. The seriousness and depth of her writing is clearly seen in Amrita Pritam’s composition. Blessed with extraordinary talent, these great poet beautifully describes the sufferings of divorced women and the bitter experiences of married life in her works.

‘Pinjar’ written by Amrita Pritam is an award-winning film on the 1950s novel also gained a lot of popularity. Let us tell you that Amrita Pritam wrote about 100 books in her life, many of which were translated into different languages of the world. In a literary career that lasted more than six decades, Amrita wrote more than hundred books that included poems, essays, novels and autobiographies, thus enriching the Punjabi language. Some of her main works written by her are as follows:


‘Doctor Dev’, ‘Kore Kagaz’, ‘Unchas Din’, ‘Dharti ,Sagar aur Seepian’, ‘Rang ka Patta’, ‘Dilli ki Galiyan’, ‘Terahwan Suraj’, ‘Yaatri’, ‘Jilavatan’ (1968).


‘Kala Gulab’, 1968, ‘Rasidi Ticket’ (1976) ‘Aksharon ka Saayee’ (2004).

Short Stories 

‘Kahaniyan Jo Kahaniyan Nahi’, ‘Kahaniyon ke Angan mein’, ‘Stench of Kerosene’


‘Amrit Lehran’ (Immortal Waves) (1936), ‘Jiunda Jiwan’ (The Exuberant Life) (1939), ‘Trel Dhote Phul’ (1942), ‘O Gitan Valia’ (1942), ‘Badlam De Laali’ (1943), ‘Sanjh de laali’ (1943), ‘Lok Peera’ (The People’s Anguish) (1944), ‘Pathar Geetey’ (The Pebbles) (1946), ‘Punjabi Di Aawaaz’ (1952), ‘Sunehray’ (Messages) (1955), ‘Ashoka Cheti’ (1957, ‘Kasturi’ (1957), ‘Nagmani’ (1964), ‘Ik Si Anita’ (1964), ‘Chak Nambar Chatti’ (1964),’Uninja Din (49 Days)’ (1979),‘Kagaz Te Kanvas’ (1981), ‘Chuni Huyee Kavitayen’.

Awards and honours

Amrita Pritam was the first recipient of Punjab Rattan Award conferred by Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh. She was the first female recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956. Amrita received the Bharatiya Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary award, in 1982 for Kagaj te Canvas (Paper and Canvas). She received the Padma Shri (1969) and Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award and Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, India’s highest literary award, also in 2004. She received D. Litt. honourary degrees, from many universities including, Delhi University (1973), Jabalpur University 91973) and Viswa Bharati (1987).

She also received Degree of Officer dens, Ordre das Arts et des Lettres (Officers) by the French Government (1987). She was nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha 1986-92.


Amrita Pritam died on October 31, 2005 after a prolonged illness at the age of 86 in New Delhi. She was survived by her partner Imroz, daughter Kandlla, son Navraj Kwatra, daughter- in – law Alka, and her grandchildren, Kartik, Noor, Aman and Shilpi. She is no longer with us but her poems, stories, and memoirs will always be with us. Now she is not with us, but her literature will always be among us and guide us.


1. When and where was Amrita Pritam born?

Ans: Amrita Pritam was born on August 31, 1919 in Gujranwala, Punjab.

2. When did Amrita Pritam receive the Sahitya Akademi Award?

Ans: Amrita Pritam won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956.

3. What are the names of Amrita Pritam’s autobiographies?

Ans: Amrita Pritam’s autobiographies are – Kala Gulab’, 1968, ‘Rasidi Ticket’ (1976), ‘Aksharon ka Saayee’ (2004).

4. At what age did Amrita Pritam published her first poem?

Ans: Amrita Pritam published her first poem at the age of 17?

5. When did Amrita Pritam died?

Ans: Amrita Pritam died on October 31, 2005 at the age of 86 after a prolonged illness.

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