Girish Karnad on Vijay Tendulkar

Girish Karnad writes on Vijay Tendulkar, who passed away last month. and his plays. For me, it was Aakrosh, for which he wrote the screenplay, that will remain etched forever with its last scene in which the tribal character played by Om Puri lets out a cry… and one discovers that his tongue has been cut off. Rahul Banerjee’s book Recovering the Lost Tongue, too traces its title to that movie.

When Ghashiram Kotwal first competed for the Maharashtra state awards, its innovative combination of music, choreography and analytical design so baffled the judges that they couldn’t decide whether it was legitimate theatre. Half a century later, it stands unexcelled for the sheer brilliance of its artistry. Anyone who has ever been involved in such an enterprise knows the amount of preliminary discussion, rewriting and revision that such a complex work demands. But amazingly, Ghashiram Kotwal arrived readymade and complete. The production followed the text exactly, playing every detail as Tendulkar wrote it—a tribute to the precision of Tendulkar’s conceptualising.

What makes the play so unique is also its prophetic quality. The plot concerns Nana Phadnavis, the 18th-century ruler of Pune, who tries to create a puppet for his own little games, only to realise that he has given birth to a monster who may swallow him up. The play predicted, with terrifying accuracy, the Indira Gandhi-Sant Bhindranwale dance of death, 11 years in advance of the events. The Shiv Sena, claiming the play vilified a Maratha hero, tried to stop it from being sent abroad.

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5 thoughts on “Girish Karnad on Vijay Tendulkar

  1. combining aesthetics with intricate formalism tendulkar produced unmatched theatre or as in the case of aakrosh, cinema. aakrosh remains a modern classic. like in the case of ghashiram kotwal this film etches reality with frightening similitude. i will always remain grateful to vijay tendulkar for writing the screenplay of this great film which prompted me to opt for fighting for the tribals – a decision that has given me immense satisfaction.

  2. Rahul, for some reason your comment went to the spam list and I saw it only today (27 June)…sorry about that- I will check the spam folder more often.

  3. Tendulkar was a master of dramatising vulgarisation of sociopolitical ethics in an India where caste-based social norms order the general mindset.His metier was always to reflect on the ideas which guided his philosophy throughout his life beyond the outstanding plays he wrote.I had opportunities to speak to him more than once whiling editing a book on Ghasiram Kotwal.He stressed time and again that it documents the decadent political ethos in our country.Tendulkar lived and wrote with a hope that our sociopolitical fabric will be chastened by a consciousness necessary to hold the nation together.His plays symbolize this idea.His death will be lamented,but our solace is that he left behind his plays-true documents of the time we live.

  4. with due respect to the contribution made by Vijay Tendulkar, his fans will definetly miss him and his creative assets in the field of literature.
    i am a research scholar and wants girish Karnad’s email id for further correspondence

  5. as m an engineering student bt want 2 becum indias top theater artist m actualy inspire by mr tendulkar n karnad sir i belong 2 jaipur n u r in jpr nowdys sir i luv u…….. ur work is great…………….

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