Humayun Ahmed

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Humayun Ahmed
Humayun Ahmed 13Nov2010.jpg
Ahmed in 2010
Native name
হুমায়ূন আহমেদ
Born(1948-11-13)13 November 1948 [1]
Kutubpur, Netrakona, Mymensingh, East Bengal, Dominion of Pakistan
Died{July 19, 2012}
OccupationWriter, poet, film director, academic, dramatist
EducationPhD (polymer chemistry)
Alma mater Dhaka College
University of Dhaka
North Dakota State University
Notable awards Bangla Academy Literary Award
Ekushey Padak
Years active1972–2012

Signature Signature Humayun-Ahmed-13Nov2010.jpg

Humayun Ahmed ( [ɦumaijun aɦmed] ; 13 November 1948 – 19 July 2012) [2] [3] was a Bangladeshi novelist, dramatist, screenwriter, filmmaker, songwriter, scholar, and lecturer. [4] His breakthrough was his debut novel Nondito Noroke published in 1972. [5] He wrote over 200 fiction and non-fiction books, many of which were bestsellers in Bangladesh. [6] [7] His books were the top sellers at the Ekushey Book Fair during the 1990s and 2000s. [8] He won the Bangla Academy Literary Award in 1981 and the Ekushey Padak in 1994 for his contribution to Bengali literature.


In the early 1990s, Ahmed emerged as a filmmaker. He went on to make a total of eight films - each based on his own novels. He received six Bangladesh National Film Awards in different categories for the films Daruchini Dwip , Aguner Poroshmoni and Ghetuputra Komola .

Early life and background

Ahmed was born on 13 November 1948 in Kutubpur village in the then Netrokona Mahakuma [note 1] under Mymensingh District, East Bengal, Dominion of Pakistan (now in Kendua Upazila, Netrokona District, Bangladesh). [9] [2] [10] His mother, Ayesha Foyez (née  Khatun) (1930–2014), was a homemaker. [11] His father, Foyzur Rahman Ahmed (1921–1971), was a sub-divisional police officer in Pirojpur District and was killed in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation War. [12] In 2011, politician Delwar Hossain Sayeedi was put on trial for the killing but was acquitted of the charge in 2013 due to a lack of evidence. [13] [14] Humayun's brother, Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, is a writer and academician. Another brother, Ahsan Habib, is a cartoonist. He had three sisters – Sufia Haider, Momtaz Shahid and Rukhsana Ahmed. [15]

During his childhood, Ahmed lived in Sylhet, Comilla, Chittagong, Bogra, Dinajpur and Panchagarh where his father was on official assignment. [10]

Education and early career

Ahmed studied in Chittagong Collegiate School. [16] He passed the SSC examination from Bogra Zilla School in 1965. [10] He then graduated from Dhaka College and earned his bachelor's and master's in chemistry from the University of Dhaka. [10] He joined as a faculty member of the same university. [10] Later he earned his PhD in polymer chemistry from North Dakota State University. [10]



Ahmed wrote his debut novel Nondito Noroke (In Blissful Hell) during the 1971 Bangladesh independence war while he was a university student. [17] [18] The novel was published in 1972 by the initiative of writer Ahmed Sofa under Khan Brother's Publishers. [19] [20] From his very first novel, his themes included the aspirations of average middle-class urban families and portrayed quintessential moments of their lives. [21] His second novel was Shonkhonil Karagar . [22]

Ahmed wrote fictional series featuring recurring characters such as Himu (21 novels), Misir Ali (20 novels) and less frequently, Shubhro (6 novels) [22] [23] [24] He wrote several novels based on the Bangladesh Liberation War – Aguner Poroshmoni, Paap, 1971, Srabon Megher Din, and Jochona O Jononir Golpo . [22] His wrote some romantic novels including Badol Diner Prothom Kodom Phool, Noboni, Krishnopoksho, Aj Dupure Tomar Nimontran, and Tumi Amai Dekechhile Chhutir Nimontrane. [22]

Ahmed wrote autobiographies - Hotel Graver Inn, Amar Chelebela, Rong Pencil and Fountain Pen. [25] [26] [27] [28] His novel Gouripur Junction was translated in nine languages. [22]

Television and film

Ahmed's first television drama was Prothom Prohor (1983), directed by Nawazish Ali Khan. [29] His first drama serial was Ei Shob Din Ratri (1985). This was followed by the comedy series Bohubrihi (1988), the historical drama series Ayomoy (1988), the urban drama series Kothao Keu Nei (1990), Nokkhotrer Raat (1996), and Aaj Robibar (1999). In addition, he made single episode dramas, most notably Nimful (1997). [30]

Ahmed directed films based on his own stories. His first film, Aguner Poroshmoni (1994), based on the Bangladesh Liberation War, won the 19th Bangladesh National Film Awards in a total of eight categories, including the awards for the Best Film and the Best Director. [31] [32] Another film Shyamal Chhaya (2005) was also based on the same war. [33] His last directed film, Ghetuputra Kamola (2012), the story of a teenage boy, was set in the British colonial period. [34]

Shyamol Chhaya and Ghetuputra Kamola were selected as the Bangladeshi entries for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006 and 2012 respectively, but were not nominated. [35] [36]

In 2009, Ahmed appeared as one of two judges for the reality television music competition show Khudey Gaanraaj. [37]


Ahmed composed around 40 songs which he used in his films and television dramas. [38] The songs were based on the folk music of the north-eastern part of Bangladesh. [38] His notable singles include "Lilabali Lilabali Ghoro Joubothi Shoi Go", "'Pubali Batashey", "Ekta Chhilo Shonar Konya", "O Amar Ural Ponkhi Rey", "Jodi Mon Kadey", "Ke Porailo Amar Chokh-e Kolonko Kajol", "Ami Aaj Bhejabo Chokh Somudrer Joley", "Cholona Brishtitey Bhiji", "Channi Poshor Raite Jeno Amar Moron Hoy", "Hablonger Bajarey Giya" and "Konya Nachilo Rey". [38] The songs were rendered by Subir Nandi, S I Tutul, Meher Afroz Shaon and others. [38]

Critical response

Nobel laureate economist Muhammad Yunus assessed Ahmed's overall impact saying: "Humayun's works are the most profound and most fruitful that literature has experienced since the time of Tagore and Nazrul." [39] Similarly, according to poet Al Mahmud, "one golden age of Bengali literature ended with Tagore and Nazrul and another began" with Ahmed. [39] Writer Imdadul Haq Milan considered him to be "the almighty lord of Bengali literature, controlling all their actions and thoughts". [39] Dawn , Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper, referred to him as the cultural legend of Bangladesh. [40] Times of India credited Humayun as "the person who single-handedly shifted the capital of Bengali literature from Kolkata to Dhaka". [39] Sunil Gangopadhyay described him as the most popular writer in the Bengali language for a century [41] and according to him, Ahmed was even more popular than Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. [42] However, during his lifetime author Shahriar Kabir dismissed him for "always speaking for the establishment." [43] Literary critic Azfar Hussain said: "I am not surprised he talks like a pro-establishment writer. I find him ignorant." [43]


On 11 May 2012, two chapters of Ahmed's future novel Deyal were published in the daily Prothom Alo. [44] 3 days later, Attorney General of Bangladesh Mahbubey Alam drew attention of the High Court on a discrepancy about a detail of the historical event of killing Sheikh Russel in Ahmed's writing. [45] [44] The court later issued a suo moto rule and asked the authorities to provide Ahmed copies of relevant documents and judgements of the killing case, so that Ahmed could rectify the writing. [46] [44]

Personal life

Ahmed married Gultekin Khan in 1976. [31] [32] [47] Together they had three daughters, Nova, Shila and Bipasha, and one son, Nuhash Humayun. Shila Ahmed went on to become a television and film actress. In 2003, Ahmed divorced Gultekin. He then married actress Meher Afroz Shaon in 2005. He had two sons from the second marriage, Nishad and Ninit. [48]


Ahmed had open-heart surgery at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. [49] A few years later, during a routine checkup, doctors found a cancerous tumor in his colon. On 14 September 2011, he was flown to Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City for treatment. [49] During his stay there, he wrote the novel, Deyal, based on the life of the first President of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. [50] In January 2012, he was appointed as a senior special adviser of the Bangladesh Mission to the United Nations. [51]

On 12 May 2012, Ahmed returned to Bangladesh for two weeks. [52] He died on 19 July 2012 at 11:20 PM BST at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. [53] There was some tension in the family over the selection of his burial site, but eventually his estate, Nuhash Palli was selected. [54] [55]

Nuhash Palli

Ahmed at Nuhash Palli (2010) Humayun ahmed gossip.jpg
Ahmed at Nuhash Palli (2010)

In 1987, Ahmed founded an estate, Nuhash Palli, named after his son Nuhash, near Pirujali village, 25 km from Gazipur City, in Gazipur District, [56] which grew to cover 40 bigha (approximately 14 acres). [57] He would spend much of his time at the estate when he was in Bangladesh. He formed a collection of statues there by local artist Asaduzzaman Khan and another of plants from around the world, particularly medicinal and fruit-bearing trees. [56]


Exim Bank, a commercial bank and Anyadin, an entertainment magazine jointly introduced an award program, Humayun Ahmed Sahitya Puruskar, which would be conferred to two writers every year on Ahmed's birth anniversary – 12 November. [58]

Several cinematographic adaptations of Ahmed's stories are made after his death. Anil Bagchir Ekdin (2015), directed by Morshedul Islam, won six Bangladesh National Film Awards. [59] Krishnopokkho (2016) was directed by Meher Afroz Shaon. [60] In October 2016, she announced the production of her next film based on Nokkhotrer Raat. [61] Debi (2018) is produced by a grant from the Government of Bangladesh. [62] [63]


1992 Shonkhonil Karagar Yes Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Story
1994 Aguner Poroshmoni YesYes Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Film
Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Story
Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Dialogue
1999 Srabon Megher Din YesYes Bachsas Awards for Best Lyrics
Bachsas Awards for Best Story
2000 Dui Duari YesYes
2003 Chandrokotha YesYes
2004 Shyamol Chhaya YesYes Bangladeshi submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
2006 Durotto Yes
Nondito Noroke Yes
Noy Number Bipod Sanket YesYes
2007 Daruchini Dwip Yes Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Screenplay
Saajghor Yes
2008 Amar Ache Jol YesYes
2009 Priyotomeshu Yes
2012 Ghetuputra Komola YesYesBangladeshi submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Director
Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Screenplay
Meril Prothom Alo Awards - Best Film
Meril Prothom Alo Awards - Best Director
Meril Prothom Alo Awards - Best Screenplay


In Bengali
In English


Ahmed signing books (2010) Humyun ahmed signing a book.jpg
Ahmed signing books (2010)

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  1. Current Netrokona district region was a mahakuma under Mymensingh District during 1882–1984.


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Further reading