Chinu Modi – Popular Gujarati writer known by the penname ‘Irshad’

Chinu Modi (1939 –2017) was a popular writer belonging to Gujarati language, popularly known by his penname, Irshad. Immensely popular as a poet of ghazals, he also authored novels and short stories, and was a critic and translator. Chinu has also written and directed several plays in Gujarati. A recipient of numerous honours, his famous books are Ashwamedh (1986), Bahuk (1982) and Kalakhyan (2003). His gazal collection Khara Zaran earned Sahitya Akademi Award for Gujarati in 2013. He was also an academician who served as a professor in many colleges.

A native from Vijapur, Gujarat

Chinu Modi was born on 30 September 1939 in Vijapur to Chandulal and Shashikantaben. His ancestors hailed from Kadi in Mehsana district. His primary education was completed in Vijapur and higher secondary education in Dholka near Ahmedabad. He completed his matriculation in 1954. In the following years he graduated in Gujarati and History, followed by LLB, M.A. in Gujarati and Hindi, and earned a Ph.D. in 1968 from Gujarat Vidyapith for his research, Gujarati Bhashama Khandakavya.

Chinu Modi started his teaching career in 1961

Even while he was continuing his research and studies, he started his professional career as a lecturer at H. A. Arts College in Ahmedabad in 1961, where he worked for 2 years. Later he taught at different colleges till 1975, and briefly served as a scriptwriter at Indian Space Research Organization, Ahmedabad for next 2 years.

He resumed his teaching career in 1977 and after working in different colleges as part-time and full-time professor, retired in 2001. He also worked as a freelancer in field of advertising for few years, and served as a chairman of Kriti Film Cooperative Society from 1979 until his death.

He started writing poetry in 1955

Modi’s first published work was Vyatan (1963). Over the years he gained immense popularity writing ghazals, and was an excellent playwright. Urnanabh, Shapit Vanma, Deshvato, Kshano Na Mahelma, Darpan Ni Galima, Irshadgadh, Afawa, Inayat, Nakashanagar, Vi-nayak, Ae, Saiyar, Shwetsamudro, Gatibhas, Agha Pachha Shwas etc are his major works over the decades. His all muktak poetry, a subgenre of ghazal poetry, was published as A-mrut Muktako in 2016, one year before his death.

Dayal Na Pankhi (1967) is his first collection of one-act plays. Callbell, Hukam Malik, Jalaka, Ashwamedh and Raja Midas are his other plays. He published autobiographical novel, Shaila Majmudar in 1966. It was his first novel. His anthology of stories include – Dabi Muththi Jamani Muththi and Chhalang. Dayal Na Pankhi in 1967 was his first one-act play. He authored a few more one-act plays including Ashwamedh, Raja Midas and Khalifano Vesh Yani Aurangzeb.

Chinu Modi’s last days

He had a heart attack on 16 March 2017, and had multiple organ failure while at hospital. Though he returned three days later, he died at his home at Paldi that evening. His body was donated to NHL Medical College as per his wish. He was married to Hansa, who predeceased him in 1989. The couple had two sons and one daughter.

Chinu Modi – Some interesting and less-known facts

1. Many of his works, originally written in Gujarati have been translated to Hindi, English, and other regional languages.

2. His ghazal style of writing poetry makes his work unique. He contributed many ghazals to Gujarati language.

3. Bahuk (1982) is his long narrative poem based on Mahabharat.

4. He served as Dean-in-charge of Department of Journalism, M. S. University, Baroda from 1992 to 1994.

5. He received Writer Fellowship from Department of Culture, New Delhi in 1979.

6. He started Hotel Poetry Club to encourage youngsters to read, write and to critique.


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