Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian polymath who contributed greatly to the fields of literature, art, and philosophy. Referred to as the Bard of Bengal, Tagore is credited with reshaping Bengali literature and music. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore is also credited with composing the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.
Actor, film director and playwright, Girish Karnad was also a Rhodes Scholar with a Masters degree in philosophy, political science and economics. A prolific writer, he authored scores of plays in Kannada, which were later translated into other languages. Also an eminent actor, film director and screenwriter, he was conferred with numerous awards including the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.
Jaishankar Prasad was an Indian poet and an important figure in modern Hindi theatre and Hindi literature. Along with Mahadevi Verma, Sumitranandan Pant, and Suryakant Tripathi, Prasad is counted among the Four Pillars of Romanticism in Hindi literature.
Ancient Indian poet and playwright Kālidāsa is considered one of the greatest Sanskrit literary figures to have ever lived. His epic Kumarasambhava, his drama Abhijnanashakuntala, and his lyric poem Meghadūta are considered classics. Most of his works are drawn from Hindu epics and scriptures, such as the Vedas.
Shiv Kumar Batalvi was an Indian writer, poet, and playwright who predominantly wrote in the Punjabi language. In 1967, he became the youngest person to receive the Sahitya Akademi Award for his epic verse play Loona, which is regarded as a masterpiece in Punjabi literature. The Shiv Kumar Batalvi Auditorium, which is located in Batala, was constructed in his honor.
Apart from his 28 full-length plays, renowned dramatist Vijay Tendulkar had also penned many short stories and a novel. Apart from winning the Padma Bhushan and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, he also won a National Award for penning the screenplay of the Shyām Benegal film Manthan.
Michael Madhusudan Dutt was an Indian poet, dramatist, and writer who predominantly wrote in the Bengali language. A pioneer of Bengali drama, Dutt is widely considered the most skilled poet in the history of Bengali literature. His life and career inspired the 1950 drama film Michael Madhusudhan, in which Dutt was played by Indian actor Utpal Dutt.
Sukumar Ray was a 19th-century Bengali writer and poet born in British India. He is most remembered for his writings for children. He was born into a prominent family as the son of a famous writer, painter, and instrumentalist. Sukumar Ray worked during the pinnacle of the Bengal Renaissance and was close friends with Rabindranath Tagore.
Bharatendu Harishchandra was a 19th-century Hindi writer and poet who is regarded as the father of Hindi literature as well as Hindi theater. He authored numerous dramas, travel accounts, and life sketches. He mainly wrote about the issues faced by Indians, such as poverty, exploitation, and class struggles. A nationalist, he urged Indians to prioritize Indian-made products.
Gollapudi Maruti Rao is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of Telugu literature and cinema. Initially a journalist with Andhra Prabha, he later also acted in plays and worked for All India Radio. He has won multiple Nandi Awards, both as an actor and as a screenwriter.
Aśvaghoṣa was an Indian Buddhist philosopher, poet, dramatist, and orator. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Indian poets of all time, Aśvaghoṣa was the most popular and important poet among a group of Buddhist court writers. He is credited with writing two of the most important Sanskrit-language poems held dear by the Buddhist community—Buddhacharita and Saundarananda.
C. Narayana Reddy was an Indian writer and poet who predominantly wrote in the Telugu language. A prolific writer, Reddy produced more than 80 literary works including ghazals, lyrical plays, prose-plays, poems, and translations. In 1973, he received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work Mantalu Manavudu. In 1988, he was honored with the prestigious Jnanpith Award for Viswambhara.
One of the best-known screenwriters of Indian cinema, Javed Siddiqui had worked with the stalwarts of the Indian film industry, such as Satyajit Ray and Yash Chopra. The two-time Filmfare winner had penned dialogues for blockbusters such as Umrao Jaan and Baazigar. A part of IPTA, he had penned plays, too.
Habib Tanvir was an Indian playwright, poet, theatre director, and actor. A pioneer in Hindi and Urdu theatre, Tanvir is best remembered for his iconic plays like Charandas Chor and Agra Bazar. During his illustrious career, which spanned more than six decades, Habib Tanvir received several prestigious awards like Padma Bhushan, Kalidas Samman, Jawarharlal Nehru Fellowship, and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship.
Remembered as a cultural icon of Assam, Bishnu Prasad Rabha is popularly known as the Assamese Leonardo da Vinci and Kalaguru. A musician known for composing Rabha Sangeet, he also penned poems and was a skilled dancer. He was later associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party of India.
One of the most significant leaders of the Neo-romantic movement of Hindi literature, known as Chhayavaad, Makhanlal Chaturvedi created history by becoming the first Sahitya Akademi winner in Hindi literature. The Padma Bhushan winner is best known for his work Him Taringini. He also edited nationalist journals as Karmaveer.
Bhagavatula Sadasiva Sankara Sastry, or Aarudhra, was the nephew of Telugu poet Sri Sri. His contribution spanned both Telugu literature and cinema. Apart from writing poems such as Konnalamma Padaalu, he had also been a lyricist, dialogue writer, and screenplay writer in films such as The Train and Beedala Patlu.
Eighth-century scholar Bhavabhuti spent most of his career as the court poet of Yashovarman, the king of Kannauj. Best known for his plays Mahāvīracharita, Malatimadhava, and Uttararamacharita, Bhavabhuti displayed fine characterization and suspenseful climaxes in his works. He was often compared to Kalidasa, another classical Sanskrit author.
Padma Shree- and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award-winning Hindi poet and playwright Dharamvir Bharati had penned iconic novels such as Suraj ka Satwan Ghoda and Gunaho Ka Devta. A PhD in Hindi from Allahabad University, he had also been a lecturer and the chief editor of Dharmayug.
Known for her iconic works such as Aag Ka Darya, Qurratulain Hyder revolutionized Urdu literature. Born to writer parents in British India, she later moved to Pakistan and then to England, where she was employed with BBC. She later moved back to India and won numerous awards such as the Jnanpith Award.
Hindi author Vishnu Prabhakar created history when he became the first from his state Haryana to win a Sahitya Akademi award, a coveted literary award in India. Primarily known for his novels and stories, he had also penned poems. Awara Masiha and Ardhanarishwar remain two of his best-known works.
Gurazada Apparao was a noted Indian playwright, poet, dramatist, and writer. He is remembered for the significant contribution he made to Telugu theater. His play Kanyasulkam (1892) is widely considered the greatest play in the Telugu language. Born in British India, he was a nationalist who composed the Telugu patriotic song "Desamunu Preminchumanna.”