Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fakir Mohan Senapati's Six Acres and a Third, reviewed by Roshni Sengupta

If one had to select Indian authors having a definite style, a deep understanding of social system coupled with dry humour, Fakir Mohan Senapati's Six Acres and a Third would be counted as one of the foremost in this category. The book is one of the very few literary works that I have come across that manages to give the reader the minute details of rural life and zamindari system during the pre-Independence period.

The book offers significantly more than just a peek into the life and times during that era. It brings forth a multitude of human emotions caught by a fluidity of actions that the author weaves into a narrative that not only captivates your senses but takes you right back to the times where zamindaris flourished.

The characters are well defined with brief words describing their quirky nature and innate characteristics. Right from the weavers' wives to the chowkidar to every minuscle character, the author has built up the story in a steady pace carefully highlighting the necessary ingredients. The narrative like a gentle wave slowly and smoothly builds up to a crescendo and tapers down to the final conclusion.

The story revolves around the rather ruthless and unscrupulus zamindar Ramachandra Mangaraj who with skillful maneouvering of government officials and by taking advantages in the flaws in the legal system manages to gain control of vast amounts of land. However, this seemingly powerful zamindar who has attained the status of a demi god meets his downfall while trying to acquire six and a third acres of land belonging to a simpkle weaver and his wife.

The book skillfully brings to life the Indian feudal system, the absolute and ruthless nature of zamindars, the law enforcement system, the customs, traditions, social heirarchy prevalent during the pre-Independence era. Rather than merely telling a tale, the story gives a critical insight and subtly stresses Indian values and beliefs. But what draws readers into this gripping tale is that even almost a century later, the story, the characters, the circumstances all can be easily identified with. The background setting may have changed into a more modern establishment but the basic essence remains the same and infact many parallels can be drawn with our lives and the lives of the people in the story.

Six Acres and a Third is one of the most prolific stories of Indian rural life ever written. While comparisons can be made with notable authors of Eastern India like Rabindranath Tagore, Tarashanker Bandopadhyay or Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, Fakir Mohan Senapati's work scores over the rest in its unique narration style, depth of content and its relevance in the 21st century.


  1. India fascinates me for so many reasons. This book sounds like a marvelous read.

  2. Seems like a good read. Thank u for the review, Roshni.

  3. I read this book long back in Oriya. Liked it a lot. There's even an Oriya movie made out of this book. It is indeed a good book capturing the culture of the time when it was written.