Curd Seller Quatrains by Harindranath Chattopadhyay

Curd Seller Quatrains..

You are all aware of my fascination with all things humorous. So I will introduce to you all, a specific genre of poetry for which Harindranath Chattopadhyay was very well known.  

Sometime in the period 1971-1991 or so, I had become a fan of Harindranath Chattopadhyay (Born April 2, 1898 -died June 23, 1990 at Mumbai) and had just loved his unique sense of repartee.

Harinda was a Bengali Indian English poet. He was the brother of Sarojini Naidu.

He is famous as a poet, writer, playwriter and above all, as a character actor of Hindi movies. His most famous acting role I vividly recall, was in the movie Bawarchi (The Chef) which was made sometime in 1972. He had enacted as the role of a strict and regimented patriach of the house, where his sons, daughter in laws and grand children lived in a joint family and still respected and abided by his rules.

He often recited his poem Rail Gaadi on All India Radio (Akashavani). This song was later memorably sung by late Ashok Kumar in the famous Hindi film Aashirwad. His other interests were politics and theatre. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1973. In the second Parliamentary election, he had stood as an independent candidate from Vijayawada constituency and had won by a whopping margin of over a lakh-and-a-half votes. Subsequently he enlivened the Lok Sabha with point-of-order interventions, rendered in his inimitable style derived from the Bengaligenre of the ‘curd-seller’ quatrains. 

In fact, it is said that ministers would dread the moment when Harinda would leap to his feet and say in an electic, whiplash hiss, ”On a point of order, Mr Speaker !..” and out would tumble one of his devastating Curd Seller verses. These ditties of the curdseller, are I believe,  an enduring part of Bengali folklore. They are reportedly sung to the beat of a ring on a mud pot. Harinda used this genre of Bengali poetry as a weapon to hit out at the then Government’s policies and follies. 

I have an old collection of a few of his  famous quatrains in an old diary. I thought of sharing these with my readers. I am sure you will all love them as I have loved them till date…. 

1. After the Railway Budget speech, he rose and said ,“On a point-of-order, Mr Speaker…..”:  

“The Budget on the Railways is very very fair;  

O, the budget on the Railways is very very fair!  

It doesn’t touch the Ministers,  

Who always go by air!’”  

2. Once he made the following observation on an irrigation budget: 

“Our Irrigation budget,  

Keeps shooting like a rocket;

 It doesn’t irrigate the fields,  

It irrigates the pockets!”  

3. He had a great sense of humour and in his characteristic style, this is what he said about our Five Year plans: 

“Our Five-Year-Plan 

Is like a piece of chewing gum; 

We’ll draw it out and draw it out 

For fifty years to come!” 

4. He would call a spade a spade, as is clear from the following quatrain: 

“You do not, perhaps, dear friends ! 

You do not know, perhaps, 

The blacker the black marketeers 

The whiter are their caps “. 

5. This is what he said once about the trend of rising prices: 

Go into any city, 

   Go into any town, 

   You’ll find the prices going up, 

   The people going down.” 

6. Our ancestors were monkeys, it is said. Here is a modern day version of a monkey’s vision:   

A monkey found a mirror 

 And gazed into its glass 

 And said: I certainly belong 

 Unto the ruling class ! “ 

7. He did not resist even at taking a dig on religious matters : 

I would not call the temple priest 

 A parrot in a cage 

 Since that might hurt the parrot’s pride

  And put it in a rage .” 

8. Here is one thought provoking quatrain on God Himself: 

” O Iam sure that God above 

 Would cease to feed a fool 

If every temple would become 

A  hospital or a school! “ 

9. Here is an irony, so well expressed: 

 ” An irony of opposites— 

  The greatest and the least. 

 Man would have been such an angel 

 Had he not been such a beast.” 

10. How true was he, when he said this about politics : 

Art has no place in politics 

 Nor politics in art ; 

 Which is as good as saying 

That the wife and husband part.” 

11. An artist’s plight was so cutely expressed by Harinda in the following lines: 

The doctor’s fees are heavy 

   And the lawyer’s fees are high, 

  But the artist—he is just supposed 

 To entertain and die.” 

12. Before I end this piece, here is my favorite quatrain of his on a poet’s condition : 

They starved and killed the poet, 

  And now it makes me laugh 

 To see them bring their bags of gold, 

To buy his autograph.” 

Yes, I will reward you for your patience in reading this piece by giving you the link to  the ” Rail Gaddi ” song mentioned earlier in this posting. Do listen to the complete song:



This entry was posted in Humour, Nostalgia, Social Commentry. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Curd Seller Quatrains by Harindranath Chattopadhyay

  1. DR POOJA says:

    Jitoo Uncle ji, Do you both share the same genetic composition? I feel so. Very hilarious are his remarks. Much like yours. Thanks for hosting a small laughter session. Best wishes.

    Dr Pooja G Bhuyar, Bijapur
    Nov 09, 2009

  2. chandra mouli says:

    Jeetu Sir,Thanks for the quatrains and the link.After a long time I could listen to the song and see the thespian.Museindia family is grateful to you.Regards.

    T S Chandra Mouli, Hyderabad
    Nov 09, 2009

  3. nalini hebbar says:

    Broca ji, the whole write up had me walking down Nostalgia Lane…where has all the innocence gone?…we seem to have accepted that our society is beyond help…the song and the faces of those children were so alive and naive…we don’t see that look any more…children of today have a know-all look…they feel they know more than the adults around.i really enjoyed the simple lines of poetry by Harinda…truth expressed with humour…sure will teach a few lessons.8, 11 and 12 are just out of this world!…thanks and regards

    Nalini Hebbar, Nellore
    Nov 8, 2009

  4. shernaz wadia says:

    Jitoo, incidentally I too was a fan of Harindranath Chatopadhyay and loved his wit and razor sharp sarcasm. Somewhere in my collection too are his poems, but I will have to search them. Thanks for this great read and for refreshing my memory. Warm regards,

    Shernaz, Pune
    Nov 8, 2009

  5. J S BROCA says:

    Dear Pooja and dear Mouli ji,thanks for your lovely responses. I am glad you enjoyed the quatrains as well as the song Rail Gaadi ! Keep smiling !!

    J S Broca, New Nelhi
    Nov 10, 2009

  6. J S BROCA says:

    Dear Naliniji and dear Shernaz, I am glad you could relate to the posting and enjoyed the wit and sarcasm of Harinda as well as the “Rail Gaddi” poem etc in the clip from the movie “Ashirwaad”.Yes, it appears the children of today seem to have lost their charming innocence of yester years when there were no TVs,no mobiles,no video games etc. I still recall the childhood games of “gilli danda”, “amba piply” and “saria ghonchi”-simple but quite enjoyable and gave the body some really good exercise.

    j s broca

  7. Floost says:

    I added your blog to bookmarks. And i’ll read your articles more often!

  8. G S P Rao says:

    Dear Broca ji, thanks for sharing these delightful quatrains of Harindranath. The satire is rich as in RK Laxman’s cartoons. Regards,

    GSP Rao, Hyderabad
    Nov 11, 2009

  9. J S BROCA says:

    Dear Rao saheb , thanks for appreciating the posting.Yes R K Laxman’s cartoons are equally witty and enjoyable !

    j s broca
    new delhi

  10. Ventego says:

    Valuable thoughts and advice. I read your topic with great interest.

  11. k pankajam says:

    Dear Brocaji, Thank you for your long posting, Sir. Humour is the fine spice of life which releases all our stress and strains. The quatrains you served is like a delicious feast which I enjoyed to the core. The lighter way of expressing crucial thoughts indeed requires skill and all of us will be able to relate Harindranath’s views even after many years from now, because our society is not going to change much. Generally I believe people who like humour are good at heart and so should be you. Thanks and regards,

    K Pankajam, Chennai
    Nov 13, 2009

  12. J S BROCA says:

    Dear Pankajam, I am really delighted with your response.I am happy you liked the posting and the satire and wit of late Harindranath ji. As righltly said by you, even after several decades,these quatrains still remain very apt in todays politics.Yes,I agree that laughter is the best medicine and am also inclined to agree with your views about good heartedness of such people who like humour.Thanks.Keep smiling.

    j s broca
    new delhi

  13. Do you plan to keep this site updated? I sure hope so… its great!

  14. Rama Teertha says:

    Dear j s broca ji,

    It is good fun reading these quatrains. Just now I had an offer to write some pages in Telugu on HNC, and with your kind permission I will be mentioning the little pieces of pain and frolic. Is there a way to access his poems or works, can you please let me know, for which I will be grateful.

    Thanks and regards
    Rama Teertha

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  23. Sanjay Seth says:


    Many years ago I saw his magnetic “performance” of the curd seller on Doordarshan. I would like a copy of the entire “curd seller” if they have survived. I wonder whether the doordarshan recordings have survived ?

    Any inputs /updates would be most appreciated. This is Indian literature at its best and needs to be revived.


  24. Ghislaine says:

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  25. nilouffer says:

    Havent had the privilege of reading Harindranath Chattopadhyay but thanks to the interest you have ignited, shall definitely read.Such simple words and deep meaning to them; He writes such that its relevant for all ages. His digs at the men in power seem true even today; Great reading Thanks for sharing;
    PS Your admiration for Harindranath Chattopadhyay reflects in your humurous writings. God bless

  26. Hi there, You have done an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they’ll benefit from this web site.

  27. Monessa says:

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  28. I am quite impressed by the ready wit and poetic excellence of Harindranath Chattopadhyay ji and am quite grateful to you for the information.

    With your permission, I am also reproducing some curd-seller quatrains with your courtesy in the last page of our LAW ANIMATED WORLD, March 15-31 Special issue. Thanks.

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