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Bazaar-e-Husn (Urdu) / Sevasadan (Hindi)
Author Munshi Premchand
Original title Urdu: بازارٍ حسن‎), Hindi: सेवासदन
Country British India
Language Hindustani
Genre Novel
Publication date
Calcutta (Hindi, 1919) and Lahore (Urdu, 1924)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)

Bazaar-e-Husn (Urdu: بازارٍ حسن‎) or Seva Sadan (Hindi: सेवासदन) is a Hindustani novel by Munshi Premchand.

It was originally written in Urdu under the title Bazaar-e-Husn ("Market of Beauty" or Red-light district) but was first published in Hindi from Calcutta as Seva Sadan ("The House of Service"), in 1919. It was published in Urdu, in 1924, from Lahore.[1]

Bazaar-e-Husn was Premchand's first major novel; before it, he had published four novellas in Urdu of about 100 pages each.

K. Subramaniam adapted the novel as a Tamil movie, Sevasadanam (1938), which was the first film for the famous Carnatic music singer, M. S. Subbulakshmi.[2]

An English translation of this book was released by Oxford University Press, India in New Delhi in 2005.[3] The year is stated to be significant, being the 125th anniversary of Munshi Premchand's birth.[4]


Bazaar-e-Husn is a tale of an unhappy housewife who is beguiled away from the path of domestic virtue into becoming a courtesan. She then reforms herself and atones by serving as the manager of an orphanage for the young daughters of courtesans, the seva-sadan of the Hindi title.

The setting is in the orthodox Hindu religious city of Varanasi, around the turn of the 20th century. The British Raj had introduced Local self-government in India to municipalities, in some cities. The main protagonist is a Brahmin lady named Suman who is married into a loveless union, due to her family's social and financial obligations. She leaves this marriage to become a courtesan, in the "kothas" of the city. In a twist to the tale, the local municipal corporation, a feature of the then-modernising India, orders these to be relocated outside the city, for social morality. Suman finds her social position is causing problems to her sister's marriage. She then joins to serve a home for widows, and teach them religion. When this becomes untenable — as also a stay with her sister who is married to a former admirer — Suman finally joins as a teacher, in a home that houses the children of former courtesans. The home is named Seva Sadan (the house of service), from which the title of the novel seems to be derived.

Major themes[edit]

The novel seems to be located firmly in a place — Varanasi — and in time - the turn of the 20th century: when the British Raj started handing over power to local elites through municipalities, in some towns and cities.

While the Urdu title highlights the fall of the heroine, the Hindi title highlights her redemption: It is tempting to see the two titles as widely symptomatic of their respective literary cultures.

Vasudha Dalmia, an American academic of South Asian culture with special focus on the Hindi language, has written an introduction to the English translation. This details the context in which the novel is set: the ancient orthodox Hindu city of Varanasi and the spaces of the Kothis and the Benarasi courtesan is stated to be an interesting choice. The Benarasi courtesan filled an important place in the aesthetic and literary culture of North India — as well as in the cultural history of the city and its citizens.

In another paper, on the significance of this novel to the North Indian society and culture, Vasudha Dalmia points out that the title itself, Seva (service) and Sadanam (house), suggests the many layered social texture of Varanasi. The move to remove the courtesans from the heart of the city (Chauk) can be seen as a metaphor, for a new (North) India, which was seeking to modernise and refashion its image — removing courtesans from its heart and shifting them to the periphery.[5]

Arshia Sattar in a review of the translation states that "Premchand has always used his women characters as the lens through which society is critiqued. A reading his 'Sevasadan' in English translation almost 90 years after it was written brings home the fact that little has changed: women are still striving to control their own destinies."[6]


  1. ^ Harish Trivedi (2 May 2004). "The power of Premchand (Literary Review of The Oxford India Premchand)". The Hindu. 
  2. ^ Sevasadanam at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Shingavi, Snehal (2005). Premchand Sevasadan. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press. p. 205. ISBN 0195668995. 
  4. ^ Ravi Bathia (14 August 2005). "Tribute to Premchand". The Tribune. The English translation of Munshi Premchand’s famous novel, Sevasadan, was launched here last week as fans of the legendary Hindi writer celebrated his 125 th birth anniversary 
  5. ^ Dalmia, Vasudha. Visions of a new Banaras and the new Hindi novel in Hindi in the book "Visualising space in Banaras - images, maps and the practise of representation. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 325–348. ISBN 978-3447051873. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Sattar, Arshia (February 2006). "Suman's story". infochangeindia.org. Centre for Communication and Development Studies, Poona. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bazaar-e-Husn — Please support Wikipedia.
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16 news items


Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:45:00 -0700

The makers of the film, Bazaar-e-Husn — that is slated to hit the big screen on July 18 — have apparently not been able to promote their film on TV due to a delay in the promo getting a censor certificate. But the Central Board of Film Certification ...

Bollywood Life

Bollywood Life
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 09:30:00 -0700

However, Reshmi Ghosh is not doing much talk about her film Bazaar-E-Husn which will release this Friday. The reason is that her film has been delayed for over eight years. The actor comments, “I have moved on since then and become a name in the small ...

The Express Tribune

The Express Tribune
Sun, 05 Jul 2015 01:15:00 -0700

It is believed that before Partition, there was a bazaar-e-husn (market for beauty) at the site of Chitrali Bazaar. This was where locals, as well as the British elite, came to enjoy performances by dancers and musicians. Later though, some locals and ...
India West
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:18:45 -0700

Yashpal Sharma (l) and Rashmi Ghosh star in “Bazaar-e-Husn,” based on Munshi Premchand's renowned Urdu novel of the same name. Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 12:10 pm. Film Based on Premchand's Classic Novel to Release R.M. Vijayakar, India ...
Hindustan Times
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:36:12 -0700

Many of Premchand's novels and short stories have been made into films, of which his first novel Bazaar-e-Husn (1919) in its Tamil version as Sevasadan (1938), with the pre-Mirabai MS Subbulakshmi in the lead role is famous. Its producer-director K ...

Times of India

Times of India
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 05:07:22 -0700

I am missing him so much. He loves Bengali food and I have promised to take sweets from here when I go back," laughed the actress, who is looking forward to the release of Ajay Mehera's Bazaar E Husn, which also stars Yashpal Sharma and Om Puri.

The Express Tribune

The Express Tribune
Sun, 23 Feb 2014 21:37:30 -0800

Nigah said there were many great women poets during British rule but most of them were from the Bazaar-e-Husn, “The word 'courtesan' was always included in their names. This word is attached like educational degrees to their poetic works. Malika Bai ...

Bollywood Life

Bollywood Life
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:45:00 -0700

B-town's favourite comedian Vir Das turns hero in Ajay Bhuyan's Amit Sahni Ki List and proves he has the tenacity to carry a film on his thin frame. Yes, Amit Sahni Ki List manages to strike a chord despite its shortcomings thanks to breezy treatment ...

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