Back on the 25th day of Dec. 1910 little did S. Bhagwan Singh and his wife Mrs. Dhan Dei of village Nangal Shaman, Distt. Jalandhar (Punjab) realise that their newly born infant son Sohan Singh, later baptised as Gurdial Singh, would emerge as a shining star on the literary sky of Punjabi literature one day. S. Bhagwan Singh, unfortunately, did not live long to see the brilliant progress of his son. He died when Gurdial Singh was hardly thirteen, leaving him to plod his weary way through life alone. The bewildered teenager was burdened with more family responsibilities when he was married to Mahan Kaur on 13th Feb , 1925. These early difficulties, however, did not deter young Gurdial Singh from pursuing his studies. He matriculated from Doaba Khalsa High School Jalandhar in 1927, passed F.Sc. from Randhir College, Kapurthala in 1929, and then shifted to Khalsa College, Amritsar wherefrom he graduated in 1931.
In 1929 started his long association with Khalsa College Amritsar : first as student, then as Hostel Superintendent for twenty years, and thereafter as a lecturer for another twenty years. After retiring as the Head of the Post graduate Dept of Punjabi Studies in 1971, Prof. Phul served as principal in Guru Nanak College Daroli Kalan (Jalandhar) and Khalsa College Domeli (Kapurthala) from 1971-76. Prof Phul's academic growth, however, did not stop with his retirement. He topped his academic achievement by doing Ph.D. on "Concept of Tragic Hero in Panjabi Drama" in 1976 from Punjabi University Patiala. His is the singular example of a man who did his Ph.D. at the mature age of 65.
Phul wrote his first poem in 1924. In 1928 he wrote hit first short story, in 1932 his first full-length play, and in 1939 his first one-act play. These years stand as landmarks in the literary growth of Phul. Thereafter this multi-dimensional creative genius went on to enrich the Punjabi literature in the genres of novel, drama, poetry, short story, criticism biograpay, travelogue etc. He has produced a lot of children's literature as well. Of late, he has devoted his attention to radio and T.V. plays, and T.V. serials. Of all these genres Phul's genius, however, lied in drama. He has taken up psychological, social, economic, political, religious and historical themes in his plays. Phul was always purposive and didactic, never frivolous or ludicrous. He never stooped to the level of burlesque.
With the magic touch of this master craftsman the human drama started throbbing with life with all its multi-faceted complexities and hues in such a way that the audiences get emotionally involved in the play being enacted on the stage. Furthermore by making judicious use of folk forms of drama, and the use of audience as part and parcel of the stage, Phul made Punjabi drama a mass movement, and given it new breadth and depth technically. He was no arm-chair dramatist. Most often he directed his plays himself and quite often acted in them. Thus he was a practical dramatist who knew all the nuances of stagecraft and payed attention to the little intricacies of play production. With his tireless effort Phul had, perhaps, more than any other Punjabi playwright, given Punjabi drama such respectability and status as it enjoys today in the comity of Indian and foreign languages. Phul's overall contribution to Punjabi literature was decidedly more than that of any of his predecessor or contemporary. His prolificacy was simply prodigious and astounding. Phul's literary work has naturally attracted the attention of critics in India and abroad, and his merit has been duly recognised by scores of national and international forums. Any other man would have, perhaps, liked to rest upon his laurels but not Gurdial Singh Phul who still plodded his pen at the mature age of 76 and enriched the treasure-house of Punjabi literature with new gems. Like Gerald Gould's 'Wander-Thirst' Phul's creative-thirst 'does not let him be'. This creative-thirst lead him on and on to discover new vistas of human experiences. He was the Ulysses of the literary oceans. In spite of all these achievements and honours showered on him, Phul remained a man of the masses : most humble, most unassuming, most open-hearted and helpful, and above all most humane. Indeed he was a Universal man, a Super Star in the galaxy of Punjabi literatuers.
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