Ismat Chughta (15 August. 1911 – 24 October, 1991) was an eminent Indian Urdu writer, known for her indomitable spirit and a fierce feminist ideology. She was considered the grand dame of Urdu fiction, as one of the four pillars of modern Urdu short story, the other three being Saadat Hasan Manto, Krishan Chander, and Rajinder Singh Bedi. Her outspoken and controversial style of writing made her the passionate voice for the unheard, and she has become an inspiration for the younger generation of writers, readers and intellectuals.
She was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh and grew up largely in Jodhpur where her father was a civil servant. She was ninth of ten children (six brothers, four sisters), and since her older sisters got married while Ismat was very young, the better part of her childhood was spent in the company of her brothers, a factor which she admits contributed greatly to the frankness in her nature and writing. Her brother, Mirza Azim Beg Chughtai, already an established writer, when Ismat was still in her teens, was her first teacher and mentor.
In 1936, still working on her bachelor’s degree, she attended the first meeting of the Progressive Writers' Association in Lucknow. After her B.A., Ismat worked for a B.T. (a Bachelor’s in Education), thus becoming the first Indian Muslim woman to have earned both degrees. In this period she started writing in secret.
1974: Ghalib Award:(Urdu Drama): Terhi Lakeer
1975:Filmfare Best Story Award: Garam Hawa (with Kaifi Azmi)
Ismat Chughtai is considered a path breaker for women writers in the subcontinent, as the many women writing at the time of Ismat's birth and childhood - including, notably, Muhammasdi Begum, Sughra Humayun Mirza, Tyaba Bilgrami (to whose novel Anwari Begum Chughtai refers in Terhi Lakeer), and Khatun Akram, were considered to be too caught up in the ideology of slow, conservative and religiously sanctioned changes for women advocated by such male reformers as Mumtaz Ali, Rashidul Khairi and Shaikh Abdullah. However, in Ismat's formative years, Nazar Sajjad Hyder had established herself an independent feminist voice, and the short stories of two very different women, Hijab Imtiaz Ali and the Progressive Dr Rashid Jehan were also a significant early influence on Ismat. (See Aamer Hussein's article, Forcing Silence to Speak, on early women writers in the AUS online).
A Chughtai Collection, Sama Publishing, 2005. ISBN 969-8784-16-0.
Lifting the Veil, Penguin, 2001.
The Heart Breaks Free/The Wild One, South Asia Books, 1993.
My Friend My Enemy: Essays, Reminiscences, Portraits, New Delhi, Kali for Women, 2001.
Quilt and Other Stories, New Delhi, Kali for Women, 1996
Terhi Lakhir (The Crooked Line), New Delhi, Kali for Women, 1995
Junoon (1978 film) - Dialogue, Actor
My Dreams (1975) Documentary - Director
Garam Hawa (1973) - Story
Jawab Ayega (1968) - Director
Sone Ki Chidia (1958) - Screenwriter, Producer
Faraib (1953) - Director
Arzoo (1950 film) - Screenwriter, Dialogue
Ziddi (1948 film) - Story