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Vijay's world of words

The screening of a documentary on Indian stage's luminaries brought out the inner turmoil of a writer



BEHIND WORDS The playwright (right) with his popular work `Ghasiram Kotwal', first directed by noted artist late B.V. Karanth, staged by the artistes of Rang Sanchar

He is the colossus of a vibrant Marathi stage with some of his plays winning awards as well as creating raucous debate about morality.His works have been translated into all Indian languages. His plays, Ghashiram Kotwal and Sakharam Bainder have been performed numerous times all over the country by some of the best names in theatre - both amid controversy. These plays, to this day, invoke intense response, as well as reaction from the audience. Sakharam Bainder was even banned at one point by the Maharashtra government and the case went to the High Court. He wrote the powerful screenplays for Govind Nihalani's Aakrosh and Ardha Satya.

Despite such an eventful life, today you find Vijay Tendulkar, the man behind the words, philosophical, ruminating, saying - "how much should one talk to oneself; after all there is a limit to it!" Or, in lighter moments, "books were my first toys." That he just had to write to give vent to his own alienation within his parental home (on account of leaving studies midway). Writing became a dire need to fill the silences.A film on him titled Ankahin by Santosh Ayachit was released on January 6 to mark his 80th birthday. Rangadhara theatre group of Hyderabad organised a screening of Ankahin at the Marathi Grantha Sangrahalaya. They also screened a CD version of the play, Ghashiram Kotwal, by the Puppets Theatre Group, Pune (with music by Pandit Bhaskar Chandavarkar).

The film, is intense, and the format very interesting; with postcard (in sepia tones) shots of the playwright gradually zooming in to close-ups, when Tendulkar shares his feelings - on life, politics, creativity, loss and longing, intolerance and censorship. Few snippets of information are given intermittently, as text.


There is also interview of one of his daughters, and a granddaughter. Incidentally, Tendulkar lost his young son, Raja, his daughter Priya Tendulkar (the famous television personality) and his wife Nirmala almost in succession, within a few years of each other.

His thoughts read like a book almost. On changing times and audience response, Vijay Tendulkar says, at one point, "earlier people used to question me on the use of sex and violence in my works; but today the sex part of the question has been dropped! It is everywhere today.... (But) violence, I say, needs good expression in literature, the film, the arts; it simply reflects the larger pattern of violence (in society)."

It would have helped had the film shown a few excerpts from the performances based on Vijay Tendulkar's plays. Or had the scene of the interview had not remained the writer's home, seated in a single position throughout.

However, that did bring home the point of a famous writer's increasing sense of alienation and internal debates.

R. UMA MAHESHWARI

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