Satire is the literary expressions pointing out to social follies and vices in witty ways. Bangla satire consists largely of short, comical and satirical plays, which expose the injustices and vices of society. Unlike full-fledged plays, satirical compositions lack complexity of theme, development of characters and careful construction of plot. Instead, a satirical play presents a slice of life through exaggerations and stereotyped characters, and is limited to one or two episodes.
Perhaps the first Bangla satire was Golaknath Das' Kalpanik Sangbadal (1795) which was a translation of the play The Disguise. Bangla satire was, however, mainly modelled on Sanskrit prahasan or satire. The foundation of Bangla satire was laid in the early 19th century by two Sanskrit satires, Hasyarnab (Jagadish, 1822) and Kautuksarbasva (Ramchandra Tarkalankar, 1828). The religious fundamentalism of Bengali Hindus and the Brahmanical practice of multiple marriages were common themes of Bangla satire. Additional targets were the member's of henry derozio's young bengal, particularly, their lack of morals, their addictions, hedonism and excesses. Although the writers of Bangla satire imitated English satire, they were also influenced by Sanskrit satire.
Ramnarayan Tarkaratna (1822-1886) was perhaps the first writer to model Bangla satire on Sanskrit models. His best known satire is Kulinkulsarbasva (1854). This satire was written to expose the oddities of Hindu casteism in contemporary society, the lustful nature of Brahmins who enjoyed extra-marital sex, and the tragic life of high caste Hindu girls. Ramnarayan's other satirical plays include Jeman Karma Temni Phal (1865), Chaksudan (1869) and Ubhay Sabkat (1872).
michael madhusudan dutt (1824-1873) was the first Bengali playwright to write Bangla satire modelled on the English comedy. In Ekei Ki Bale Sabhyata (1860), he exposed the artificiality of those Bengalis who copied European manners out of context; in Budo Shaliker Ghade Ron (1860), he exposed the lustful nature of high-caste Brahmins. Through these two satirical plays Madhusudan raised the level of Bangla satire. These plays are still the yardstick by which Bangla satire is measured.
dinabandhu mitra (1819-1873) also contributed to this genre with Biye Pagla Budo (1866), Jamaibarik (1872) and Sadhabar Ekadashi (1866). In Biye Pagla Budo he presents the follies of old Rajivlochan who wants to get married. He used lively dialogue and folk ballads and poems in his satire. Sadhabar Ekadashi is a tragio-comedy. Like Madhusudan, Dinabandhu also portrayed through comedy and satire the incongruities of contemporary society and the rampant excesses of western educated Bengalis. Through Jamaibarik, Dinabandhu presented humorously the problems of a ghar jamai, a son-in-law who resides in the home of his in-laws, the woes of multiple marriages and family conflicts.
Another successful writer of Bangla satire was amrita lal basu (1853-1929). Though his first work, Chorer Upar Batpadi (1876), was not too successful, he had better success with Dismiss (1883), Chatujye-Badujye (1884), Bibaha Bibhrat (1884) and Babu (1893). girish chandra ghosh (1844-1912), a famous playwright and actor, wrote a number of satirical plays of high quality, including Yamini Chandramahina Gopan Chumban (1878), Votmabgal (1882) and Bellik Bazar (1886).
rabindranath tagore also wrote satires. His Goday Galad (1892) produced a flood of laughter in every scene and in Baikunther Khata (1897) he showed the tragic end of Baikuntha through subtle comedy. Other satirical plays that deserve to be mentioned are jyotirindranath tagore's Kivchit Jalayog (1872), manomohan bose's Nagashramer Abhinay (1881), Rajkrishna Roy's Daktar Babu (1890), dwijendralal roy's Biraha (1897), kshirod prasad vidyavinod's Bhuter Begar (1908) and pramathanath bishi's Bhutapurba Svami.
The nationalist movement at the beginning of the 20th century reduced the interest in satire. However, the second half of the century again saw a rise in satire, especially for political purposes. nurul momen (1906-1989), for example, used satire for social purposes, while Mumtazuddin Ahmed uses satire for both social and political purposes. In Sat Ghater Kana Kadi, for example, he used satire to poke fun at the then military dictator. [Hakim Arif]