A Man of Many Talents
Nurul Momen’s 30th death anniversary observed
Nurul Momen, a famous playwright who is known also as Natyaguru. He was a professor, educationist, playwright, director, actor, Belles letters writer, satirist, personal essayist, humorist, acclaimed orator, lawyer, broadcaster, philanthropist and essayist of Bangladesh. He is recognised as the pioneer of modern Bengali drama.
Nurul Momen was born on 25 November, 1908, as son of Nurul Arefin, a physician and landlord in Alfadanga of Faridpur. He went to primary school in Calcutta and was admitted in 1916 into Zila School in Khulna. At the age of 10 he wrote his first poem, Sondhya in the same verse as Tagore's 'Sonar Tory'.
After matriculation in 1924 he studied at Dhaka Intermediate College. Passing intermediate, he enrolled for BA at the newly established Dhaka University in 1926. After receiving his BA degree from Dhaka University in 1929, he studied law at the Department of Law, University of Calcutta. Upon completing his BL examinations in 1936 he started practising at the Calcutta High Court.
After the foundation of All India Radio in Dhaka, 1939, Momen picked up on the opportunity of the new medium and became its first Muslim author. In 1941 he wrote and directed the comedy Rupantor for the radio. With its progressive plot and a female main character it differed vastly form traditional Muslim plays and was actually the first modern drama of Bangladesh.
Upon initiative of the critic, the poet and literary critic Mohitlal Majumder, the play was also published in the yearly Puja issue of the newspaper Anandabazar. While he was in London for higher studies from 1948 on, Nurul Momen and his friend Nazir Ahmed started a BBC Bengali program, a weekly one-hour format called Anjuman where Momen was responsible for the literary content.
Rather than continuing to practice law even before the partition of India, he joined the faculty of Law at the Dhaka University in 1945. There he was known for including elements from literature and music into the law classes. He encouraged Munier Chowdhury to get interested in theater and become a playwright. In recognition of his versatile contributions, Natyaguru Nurul Momen was honoured with various prestigious awards like Best New Playwright Award in Calcutta, Bangla Academy Award and Ekushey Padak.
Nurul Momen died in Dhaka on February 16 in 1990 at the age of 81.
The writer is a literary critic and music buff.