Fasana e Azadby Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar
In late 19th century, with Avadh’s decadent splendour fast decaying, a rich, handsome and somewhat anglicised flaneur named Mian Azad, sets out on a series of Quixotic adventures that take him from Lucknow to Constantinople, via Bombay and Siberia. His beloved, Husn Ara, has asked him to join the Russo-Turkish war of 1877 to fight with the Ottoman Turks and show that he’s worthy of her. With him is Khoji, his Sancho Panza and an opium addict who’s given to comic exaggeration. The amusing, wild, colourful and often bizarre and improbable chronicles of Azad’s travels made for four volumes and around 3,000 pages of Fasana-e-Azad, which was published in 1880 by Lucknow’s Naval Kishore Press. The series first appeared in the Urdu newspaper Avadh Akhbar between 1878 and 1883, but so devoted were its readers that it was compiled into a novel, much like Charles Dickens’s works.