Sundri Uttamchandani is an eminent poet, fiction writer, playwright, essayist and translator in post – independence era of Sindhi literature. Sundri Uttamchandani declares “Creative process is recreation of reality.” Born on 28th September, 1924 in Hyderabad, Sindh, Sundri was exposed to a vast repertoire of folk and mythological tales which were narrated by her parents.
The freedom movement was sweeping across the country when she was in her early twenties. She could not but be drawn into it. She started her literary career while she was in the college, publishing her translation of a story entitled “Bahadur Maao Ji Bahadur Dheea” (A brave daughter of a brave mother). She married Assandas Uttamchandani in 1947. He was a freedom fighter, lover of literature with leanings toward Marxist philosophy, who, in later years, became one of the leading writers of Sindhi progressive literary movement. Assandas Uttamchandani, popularly known as A. J. Uttam, was one of the founders of Sindhi Sahit Mandal in Mumbai.
Apart from her path breaking novels, She is equally acknowledged as a short story writer, where she found herself equally comfortable. She has eight collections of short stories to her credit, and most of them have gone into several reprints.
Her story “Bhoori” (A doll) is a touching portrayal of the ravages of Partition but radiant with inner beauty, born out of dignity of labour. The story depicts a woman who shoulders the household and economic responsibility of the family as well, ushering in gender equality without sounding stirringly feminist.
“Hi Shahar” (This City) is a story of a meek Nepali watchman in a lower middle class apartment in a city. The city is portrayed as a ruthless and soulless, unmindful of any concern of an individual. Sundri’s short story “Kheer Bariya Hathra” won the first prize in short story competition in early sixties held by Kahani, a popular literary journal.
Sundri has tried her hand at composing traditional poetry with proper metre but in free verse where she has found her niche. She has four poetry collections to her credit. Her poems delve deep into subtle and delicate gamut of emotions and find artistic and imaginative articulation with her individual stamp. Another dimension of Sundri as a litterateur rests with her attribution to translation. She has translated many novels, short stories and poems of renowned writers such as Amrita Pritam, Maxim Gorky, Krishna Chandra, Sholokhov, etc.
Apart from bagging many awards throughout her vast and eventful literary career, she was bestowed with the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for her book Vichhoro in the year 1986. As a part of Progressive Writers’ movement she has written on erstwhile Soviet Union, “Naeen Sabhyata Jo Darshan” and “Bharat Roos Ba Banh Beli” (India Russia - Two Comrades In Arms) for which she won the coveted Soviet Land Nehru Award.
Sundri has been inspiring generations of women writers through her creative endeavour and will continue to inspire future generations. Sundri has been praised and admired time and again for depicting real life characters. Commenting on her creative process Sundri says, “I feel any creative work such as poetry, story, novel or play should not be a photographic depiction of reality. It is to be clothed with imagination, artistic ideas and style of his or her own. It is the unity of objective and subjective world. Thus the real facts are like diamonds strewn in the valley found by Sindbad. One has to pick and choose the diamond, cut, polish and make dimensions to make it attractive and invaluable.
Reminiscing her career as writer spanning more than six decades, Sundri Uttamchandani says, “ When I look back over the valleys of past years to understand how this urge towards becoming a writer developed in me, the events of past flash in my mind’s eye like playing of a video tape, so fertile in endless continuity”.