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Vijay Tendulkar's Novel innings

He has scripted award-winning films like Ardh Satya, Manthan, Nishant in the 70s but he is best known for his political satires like Shantata! Court chalu ahe, Gidhade and Ghasiram Kotwal
None | By, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2007 03:39 PM IST

He has scripted award-winning films like Ardh Satya, Manthan, Nishant in the 70s but he is best known for his political satires like Shantata! Court chalu ahe, Gidhade and Ghasiram Kotwal has been staged over 6,000 times in original and translations.

Journalist, playwright and Padma Bhushan awardee amongst many things, Vijay Tendulkar, 77, sits in his modest two-room accommodation in a Mumbai suburb mulling over his next novel - on pain and agony.

Death of his wife and his daughter Priya and son Raju has made this soft-spoken man reticent. "Certain things obsess me now- the agony and the pain. I have surrendered to pain - it is a rich experience. I am trying to delve deep into it," he says.

By his admission, it is proving to be a difficult task. Unlike play writing where he is "a practiced hand", this is a new medium for him although he has two novels to his credit.

Unlike the collective medium of theatre and cinema, Tendulkar finds the novel gives him complete freedom. "Cinema is a restricted medium for a writer.

Even in theatre, I am not always happy with the transition from my writing and its interpretation. I am moving towards a personal kind of writing now." It is quite natural, considering because his literary career started with short stories, one-act plays and columns.

Two of his plays, Ghasiram Kotwal and Sakharam Binder, have been captured on DVD. He has personally supervised the production to ensure that the future generation understand his message.

Collected works of Shakespeare, Garbriel Garcia Marquez and J.M. Coetzee sit happily next to each other on his glass bookcase.

"When I was young, our exposure was limited to American, English and Russian authors. I have, since, read the translated works of Japanese writers and marvel at the range of emotions. It is a pity we do not have good translators in India," he says.

For one whose plays and scripts inspired a generation, this master of silences maintains that political change has its own mechanism. It has nothing to do with literary world, theatre or journalism.

"In these three years of reflection I have concluded that politics is a mechanism by itself, functions by itself and the basic concern is political," he says.
And despite all doomsayers, Tendulkar sees hope for the so-called experimental theatre.

"Many young people are writing and performing despite no money and facilities. Therein lies hope. Ultimately, something from here will go to the mainstream theatre and push it ahead. So this theatre, if you ask me, is the real, genuine theatre that needs to be cared for, nursed and nourished. It is not happening to the extent it should be, the state is not interested because the minister for culture has no feel of culture."

Language, he says, is secondary. First the urge to express should be there. Language is only a vehicle for the expression. It matters little what language you speak in whether it is Hindi , English, Marathi or anything else.

And then the social activist in him surfaces: "Problem is that it is only talk without the corresponding action. Unless there is action, issues remain unrecognised. Talking about it among ourselves doesn't lead us anywhere."

Among his contemporaries he was known for looking ahead in the future. He cannot visualise the kind of world his grandson would inherit because technological advancement is just mind-boggling. "The Third world including our country does not have a choice at all.

Every thing is being done for us and we are taking it without questioning anything. It is frightening. But I don't want to be a pessimist. Maybe, a change will come."

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