मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

समर्थ शिष्या अक्का : "स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले. पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

सदानंद रेगे:
"... पण तुकारामाची गाथा ज्या धुंदीनं आजपर्यंत वाचली जात होती ती धुंदी माझ्याकडे नाहीय. ती मला येऊच शकत नाही याचं कारण स्वभावतःच मी नास्तिक आहे."
".. त्यामुळं आपण त्या दारिद्र्याच्या अनुभवापलीकडे जाऊच शकत नाही. तुम्ही जर अलीकडची सगळी पुस्तके पाहिलीत...तर त्यांच्यामध्ये त्याच्याखेरीज दुसरं काही नाहीच आहे. म्हणजे माणसांच्या नात्यानात्यांतील जी सूक्ष्मता आहे ती क्वचित चितारलेली तुम्हाला दिसेल. कारण हा जो अनुभव आहे... आपले जे अनुभव आहेत ते ढोबळ प्रकारचे आहेत....."

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, March 29, 2010

तो पहा! तो पहा!! अमिताभ बच्चन! अमिताभ बच्चन!!

If you followed only Marathi e-media to keep tabs on "akhil bharatiya marathi sahitya sammelan" (अखिल भारतीय मराठी साहित्य संमेलन) held in Pune on March 26-28 2010, you would not be wrong to conclude that it was all about if Ashok Chavan and Amitabh Bachchan shared a dais or not or if very-busy-in-IPL Sachin Tendulkar attended the meet or not.

I can assure you it was surely more than that.

As I was coming out of Sammelan on Sunday morning, a young couple carrying a toddler, looking at my books, asked me anxiously where the book exhibition was. They didn't want to miss out on that! When I assured them that it was not going away for a while, they smiled ear-to-ear.

I once again remember William Leith's words:
"...India’s media is heading for ad-backed celebrity hell faster, and more comprehensively, than ours (British)..."

तो पहा! तो पहा!! अमिताभ बच्चन! अमिताभ बच्चन!!
(Look there! Look there!! Amitabh Bachchan! Amitabh Bachchan!!)

Artist: Vasant Sarwate(वसंत सरवटे), 1974

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Was Hole Always a Hole?

We lived in Kolkata and the east for almost three years. I know the city reasonably well. Therefore, watching the recent fire on TV was painful.

"On March 23 2010, in Kolkata, the blaze that swept through three floors of a 150-year-old multi-storeyed building here claimed at least 16 lives with fire brigade personnel recovering 10 charred bodies from the sixth floor of the ill-fated structure late tonight, officials said...

..."It's not possible to say whether they were male or female. They were charred beyond recognition," they said..."

B S Mardhekar (बा.सी.मर्ढेकर) wrote


पहा विचारुनि त्यांना कसली
मैथुनांत रे असते झिंग;
दाखवितिल ते भोंक रिकामें
जिथें असावें मांसल लिंग.


[Poem no 56 from 'Kanhee Kavita' (कांही कविता)]

(Ask them what high
exists in copulation;
they will show an empty hole
where once was a fleshy penis)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sahitya Sammelan Visits were Worth it!

Yesterday, March 26, I bought 13 books of Vinoba Bhave (विनोबा भावे) at the book exhibition of "akhil bharatiya marathi sahitya sammelan" (अखिल भारतीय मराठी साहित्य संमेलन).

If you are interested please contact following address:

Parandham Prakashan, Pavnar, Dist: Vardha PIN 442 111 Phone: 07152-288040 and 9822565574

(परंधाम प्रकाशन , पवनार , जिल्हा: वर्धा )

I also got a number of difficult-to-lay-your-hands-on books of different authors- most of them now dead- at Venus Prakashan (व्हीनस प्रकाशन).

count on day 1: 29.


count on day 3: 30 [including rare books like Bahurupi (बहुरूपी) by Chintamanrao Kolhatkar (चिंतामणराव कोल्हटकर) ,1957]

Net net : 59!

So after all sammelan visits were worth it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Can We Trust an Artist to Show us the Reality?

Lalit (ललित) March 2010 carries a review of "leelacharitratil Samjdarshan" (लीळाचारित्रातील समाजदर्शन) by Suman Belwalkar (सुमन बेलवलकर), 2009 by Pradip Karnik (प्रदीप कर्णिक).

I have been planning to buy the book.

I liked the review although I would have liked to see some reference to D D Kosambi's work.

At the end of the review, Karnik quotes this from the book:

"a painter would relate to the nature around him but not necessarily to the social environment." ("चित्रकार त्याच्या भोवतीच्या निसर्गाशी नाते जोडेल परन्तु तो सामाजिक पर्यावरणाशी जोडेलच असे नाही")

Karnik thinks this is not true. Artist also connects with the social environment, Karnik seems to say.

I feel both of them are not entirely correct.

It is likely that the artist doesn't connect even to the nature around him! Read an earlier post on the subject here.

Therefore, we can't trust an artist, particularly a bad one, to reflect truly anything. Neither nature nor social environment.

And are nature and social environment two different things to start with?

Here I strongly recommend an essay by Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) on the subject of his home-studio: 'Chitrakarachi Kholee' (चित्रकाराची खोली), part of 'Vyangkala-Chitrakala' (व्यंगकला-चित्रकला), 2005.

In Sarwate's rooms, in Kolhapur and Mumbai, nature and society-at-large blend seamlessly. They are one.

Artist: the late JB Handelsman, The New Yorker, 28 February 1994

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

प्रलयकाळी धरणीकंप

Marathi can be such a vibrant, colourful language! Here is one example.

In my childhood, English movies, released at theatres, had no Hindi subtitles. The knowledge of English was not as widespread as is today. Sound at the cinema was often poor. It was some times hard to even catch Marathi dialogue.

Like most people, I too struggled with English movies. But like English books, I kept trying. (My father used to tell us not to bother about meaning of each word when we first started reading English books. He thought it killed the joy of reading.)

One of the most important tool to promote any film was usage of large billboards and posters. Occasionally the posters were paraded across the city using brass-bands.

I have forgot most of the beautiful girls I came across in real life but not posters of movies! I still remember where all they were hung in Miraj.

The posters of English movies carried Marathi translation of the titles. They often carried a brief summary of the story.

One such memorable title was 'प्रलयकाळी धरणीकंप' (Earthquake on the doomsday). It was translation of 'One Million Years B.C.' (1966)!

I feel Marathi title is better than the English one. It also is far more realistic too because although I don't mind them meeting in delighful comic strip 'B.C.' by Johnny Hart, humans and dinos were separated by millions of years on this planet. (Lucky us!)

I saw the movie in early 1970's at Amar talkies. I was attracted to it by its poster and Marathi title.

I liked the film ok. I recently saw it again.

I don't remember what I liked then: the fight between a Ceratosaurus and a Triceratops- both of them look like caricatures of what we now know they looked like in real- or scantily clad Raquel Welch!

I guess both.

All three of them are in the poster below.

I wasn't alone.

Wiki informs: "...The publicity shot of Welch from the movie became more famous than the movie itself, becoming a best-selling poster and something of a cultural phenomenon. The image can be recognized by people around the world, even among those who are not familiar with the film..."

Thank you Ms. Welch. You triggered by interest in dinosaurs many years before Jurassic Park.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Vinda Karandikar Didn't Choose David Hume

Tom Hanks:
"'The Pacific' is coming out now, where it represents a war that was of racism and terror. And where it seemed as though the only way to complete one of these battles on one of these small specks of rock in the middle of nowhere was to - I’m sorry - kill them all. And, um, does that sound familiar to what we might be going through today? So it's-- is there anything new under the sun? It seems as if history keeps repeating itself."

I have already mentioned that Vinda (विंदा करंदीकर) did not choose any English philosopher in the list of eight for his book ‘ASHTADARSHANE’ (अष्टदर्शने), 2003.

There I also state the importance of David Hume.

Why was Hume ignored by Vinda?

Here is a possible answer.

John Gray:

"...From Francis Bacon to Nietzsche, Enlightenment thinkers have lauded will over the purposeless life of common humanity. Other animals may live without knowing why, but humans can impress a purpose on their lives. They can raise themselves up from the contingent world and rule over it

There have always been Enlightenment thinkers who do not share this vision. David Hume saw humans as a highly inventive species, but otherwise very like other animals. Through the power of invention they could ease their lot, but they could not overcome it. History was not a tale of progress, but a succession of cycles in which civilisation alternated with barbarism. Hume expected no more than this..." (Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, 2003)

History was not a tale of progress, but a succession of cycles in which civilisation alternated with barbarism.

Marxist / Committed Vinda could have never agreed with this.

This is a great pity because it leaves a large hole in his book. Some one as talented as him should have tried to do justice to Hume in Marathi.

I wonder how long now Hume has to wait.

It may not always be a horse, but history just repeats:

Artist: Richard Decker, The New Yorker, Feb 9 1963

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Calling on B S Mardhekar to Greet a New Mother: Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi was an attractive lady and a darling of media.

She appeared on this blog here in that phase. One such picture is at the bottom of this post.

I say 'was' because I haven't seen her any where for a while.

Ms. Lakshmi recently gave birth to a baby girl.

I guess motherhood is deeply transformative. For the woman as well as the onlooker.

B S Mardhekar (बा.सी.मर्ढेकर)- today is his death anniversary- wrote in a beautiful Marathi 'Hymn to Her':

पोरसवदा होतीस
होता पायांतही वारा

आज टपोरले पोट,
जैसी मोगरीची कळी;
पडे कुशीँतून पायीं
छोट्या जीवाची साखळी.

पोरसवदा होतीस
थांब उद्याचे माऊली,
तीर्थ पायांचे घेईतों.

[Poem no 27 from 'Kanhee Kavita' (कांही कविता)]

The last stanza describes the poet's feelings on seeing a pregnant girl:

"You were kiddish
Until yesterday or day-before;
Wait tomorrow's mother,
I drink holy water of washing of your feet."

Ms. Lakshmi so far belonged to the category described by my wife as 'half-naked' women (उघड्या-नागड्या बायका) that appear in newspapers, even Marathi, every day!

Now Ms. Lakshmi's chest will have a new context, other than page 3, as described by Mardhekar's idol Madhav Julian (माधव जुलियन) in a moving Marathi poem:

"...गेली दुरी यशोदा टाकूनि येथ कान्हा,
अन् राहिला कधींचा तान्हा तिचा भुका ना?
तान्ह्यास दूर ठेवी - पान्हा तरिहि वाहे -.." ('प्रेमा स्वरूप आई!')

["...Yashoda went away leaving Kanha (Krishna) here,
and hasn't that caused her toddler to remain hungry?
She keeps her toddler away- her breasts still ooze-.." ('Prema Swarup Aai')]

Ms. Lakshmi has given her daughter a simple, meaningful, gender-neutral name: Krishna (Krishna Thea Lakshmi).

It's such a welcome change from the names many middle-class Maharashtrians pull from archaic Sanskrit sources to name their kids these days.

I not only don't know their meaning but can't even remember them.

Padma, Lakshmi, Krishna. So easy...

Picture courtesy: Yana Paskova for The New York Times, Aug 5 2009

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I felt proud to be a Marathi speaking male

On March 9 2010, Ms. Najma Heptullah spoke in Rajya Sabha on the subject of Women's Reservation Bill.

She observed that world over women's movement was led by women but in India it was led by men.

Three- Phule, Ambedkar, Karve- of the four names she, a Muslim non-Marathi speaking woman, mentions were Marathi speaking males!

All three were borne when the British empire showed no signs of decline. And yet they showed no sign of inferiority using their native language to accomplish what they did.

Most Governors-General and Viceroys of India will be forgotten- if not already forgot- soon but this trinity will last in public memory for next many hundred years.

Their Marathi did not feel any threat from any other language or its speakers.

I take pride in speaking their language.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why Vinda, Kusumagraj, Khandekar but NO Bhagwat, Tendulkar, Chitre?

Vinda's popularity after the Jnanpith (ज्ञानपीठ) Award soared and probably reached the levels previously attained by Kusumagraj (कुसुमाग्रज) and V S Khandekar (वि स खांडेकर).

All three of them Jnanpith awardees.

Like Vinda, Kusumagraj too was a good poet and a great human being. (Kusumagraj was our family friend and attended my sister's wedding. He had great regard for my father and his writings. He exuded only kindness and love.)

The same can be said of the third awardee, V S Khandekar. Average writer but a great humanist who motivated scores of budding artists. (At IIT, Madras, I once asked my Tamil speaking class-mate: who were popular Tamil writers? His answer stunned me because one name on that very short list was Khandekar. Yes, V S Khandekar in translation! Yes, he was that popular.)

The award was not given to Durga Bhagwat, Vijay Tendulkar and Dilip Chitre, for my taste, all of them better writers than the Jnanpith trinity.

Is it because M/s Bhagwat, Chitre and Tendulkar constantly rebelled against the establishment? The government of the day as well as extra constitutional authorities and power-centres in Maharashtra.

Remember fearlessness of Durga Bhagwat during the emergency, Vijay Tendulkar's run-ins with Shiv Sena and the government on many issues, death threat to Chitre in the wake of James Laine controversy?

Vinda, Kusumagraj, Khandekar avoided such conflicts. I like to think: Not for want of courage but they were built differently.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Will Vinda usher in Marathi Woody Allen?

When I finished reading -‘ASHTADARSHANE’ (अष्टदर्शने), 2003, I wrote a letter to Lalit (ललित) and sent a copy of that to Vinda Karandikar (विंदा करंदीकर).

Lalit published it and Vinda wrote back thanking me for it.

Following is based on that letter of mine.

In Marathi, M P Rege (मे पु रेगे ) has written a lot on the subject of philosophy using formal prose. It's tough for the writer. And reader!

But writing on philosophy, in any other form is even tougher for the writer.

Particularly, if one wishes to deploy quality humour or poetry. The way Woody Allen does in English.

But for the reader, it's easier.

Unfortunately, in Marathi, I have hardly come across such writings.

I remember one example from P L Deshpande's (पु ल देशपांडे) book.

Pu La imagines that the famous argument between sage Vasishta and sage Vishwamitra- 'Who is Brahmin?' (One: Brahmin knows Brahma, The other: the one who knows Brahma is Brahmin)- took place while both were chewing pans!

Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे) has drawn a beautiful illustration for it.

It reminded me of Mel Brooks: "Nietzsche whispers to you: ‘Without audacity there is no greatness.’ Freud whispers to you: ‘Why must there be greatness?’ That fight’s still going on. And you don’t understand either one, because they’re both whispering in German."

Frankly other than Charvak-darshan (चार्वाक), there is little information in Vinda's book that is not there in Will Durant's 'The story of philosophy' (1926).

However, Vinda's usage of abhang (अभंग) format to write on the subject of philosophy was at the bleeding edge of innovation.

Vinda had good sense of humour as is obvious from many of his poems. Vasant Sarwate too vouches for it.

I hope, some day, his ASHTADARSHANE ushers in Marathi's Woody Allen.

I also suggested that Vinda himself was 20th century's Charvak!

p.s. Read Vilas Sarang's (विलास सारंग) essay- first published in August 1973- on Vinda's poetry from 'Aksharancha Shram Kela' (अक्षरांचा श्रम केला), 2000. Sarang explains the good and the bad of Vinda's poetry.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vinda- My Charvak (or my Eknath?) is Dead

Vinda Karandikar (विंदा करंदीकर) has been here a few times before.

He reminded Dilip Chitre (दिलीप चित्रे) of Sant Eknath (संत एकनाथ).

To me, he was like his own depiction of Cārvāka/ Charvak (चार्वाक), in possibly his best book: -‘ASHTADARSHANE’(अष्टदर्शने), 2003.

Charvak is the last 'darshan' in the book. Arthur Schopenhauer too gets his due but it is no surprise that 'Marxist' in Vinda doesn't like him much.

(I feel privileged that I have this book autographed by him. I also have his letter.)

In Vinda's words, Charvaka was like :

सत्याचा स्वीकार। श्रद्धांचा अव्हेर,
हिंसेचा धिक्कार, । करोनिया,
मानवी जीवन। करणे सुखमय
हेच एक ध्येय। मानणारे
मानवतावादी, । उद्योगप्रवण,
असे हे दर्शन । चार्वाकाचे.

In my words, Vinda was:

सत्याचा स्वीकार। श्रद्धांचा अव्हेर,
हिंसेचा धिक्कार, । करोनिया,
मानवी जीवन। करणे सुखमय
हेच एक ध्येय। मानणारे
मानवतावादी, । उद्योगप्रवण,
असे हे दर्शन । विंदांचे.

But in the final analysis, Chitre was right. At the end of all intellectual discussions and philosophies, what we will remember most about Vinda is his humanism. Like Eknath, like Mahatma Gandhi.

"जगाचिये नेत्री दिसे तो संसारी, परी तो अंतरी स्फटिक शुद्ध" ("In the world's eyes he looks ordinary married man but inside he is crystal pure.")

p.s. Vinda has written thirty odd books. When I last checked, other than his poetry books, most of his books- I was particularly looking for his translation of Dnyaneshwar's (ज्ञानेश्वर) Amrutanubhav (अमृतानुभव), 1981- are not available in the market. Such is the poverty of Marathi publishing world.

Cricket is like Carbon monoxide

On March 13 2010, I saw one of the best Hockey matches ever: Australia Vs. Germany, final of FIH world cup in New Delhi.

Since I have not seen too many Hockey matches, I feel it was as good as some of the best football matches.

Contrary to my hope, India didn't make even the semi-finals.

In fact, through the fortnight, I often thought India and Pakistan were playing a different ball-game than Australia, Germany and Holland.

Even then India and Pakistan gave me many exciting moments and displayed tremendous skills at times.

On March 13, I checked most TV news channels, during the half-time, if the match was getting due attention by our electronic media.

Not one of them bothered! All of them were busy with IPL.

What is the greatest achievement of an Indian sports-person in year 2010?

By some distance this: In March, Saina Nehwal became the first Indian woman to reach the semi-finals of the All England Super Series badminton championship.

Our cable operator is not even carrying the sports channel that is covering the championship!

Cricket is like Carbon monoxide. In its limited-over avatars, it binds with Indian mass psyche so much that the psyche is not available for any other sports.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Which Religions will Now Inspire M F Husain's Nudes?

For my taste, M F Husain is an average artist. His art has never inspired me.

I should just leave Mr. Husain alone.

But then I read Durga Bhagwat (दुर्गा भागवत).

The late Ms. Bhagwat all her life defended freedom of expression, fearlessly took on Indira Gandhi during the Emergency when most intellectuals were shit-scared and fought culture-vultures turned goons of Maharashtra while defending Marathi author Bhau Padhye (भाऊ पाध्ये) who was accused of obscenity.

“…why does Husain draw Seeta sitting on the tail of Lord Maruti flying across the sky? And that too naked one? Obviously religious people will get angry, won’t they? Basically Husain has not read Ramayana is obvious because no where in Ramayana, Maruti carries Seeta. In Ashok-vana, he offers Seeta that he would transport her on his shoulder safely. Seeta declines the offer because she wants Rama to go there personally, slay Ravana and free her. That shows Seeta’s confidence in Rama and also pride. Without considering this context, drawing revealing pictures of Hindu goddesses has to be considered objectionable. Such pictures are naturally going to hurt the sentiments of religious people. Not just that even a religious Muslim may not like this insult of gods of other religions.”

(Source- ऐसपैस गप्पा : दुर्गाबाईंशी लेखक प्रतिभा रानडे “Aispais Gappa: Durgabainshi” by Pratibha Ranade, 1998)

On March 10 2010, in The Asian Age, I read Cho S. Ramaswamy "Feel free, Mr Husain. Go paint Qatari leaders":

"...Now that M.F. Husain has settled in Qatar where there is total freedom, he is free of the shackles imposed by the Indian system on freedom of expression. All those who appreciate his art would now eagerly await his imaginative paintings of the leaders of Qatari society, hopefully not artistically clothed.

His fans would not expect him to confine nudity to Hindu deities alone; it would extend to all the religions. Having already painted his mother, daughter and Muslim kings fully robed, Mr Husain, being the freed citizen that he is now in Qatar, should be prepared to remove those clothes. How can the artist in him be satisfied with seeing Saraswati and Parvati alone in the nude?..."

'It’s all very well you saying I should paint something else, but WHAT?’

courtesy: Spectator

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

S G Joshi, John Tenniel: The Power of Simple and Vague

John Gray: "...To be sure, the pursuit of self-realisation does not often result in happiness. But is it happiness that most people are pursuing? Or is it stimulus and excitement?..."

It is now clear, going by the most reviews, that Tim Burton's film 'Alice in Wonderland' has screwed up Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'.

I felt sorry because I really love some of Burton's earlier work: Batman (1989) and Planet of the Apes (2001).

But Mr. Burton like all of us has been affected by Disneyfication of everything around us.

Ramin Setoodeh writes:

"...The only way to understand Alice is to use your imagination. Do you even remember how to do that? In our society of Web links, Wikipedia, Facebook, and reality TV, everything and everybody comes with a label and an exhaustive definition. There's scant room for ambiguity and interpretation. The genius of the 145-year-old Wonderland is that it forces you to bring your own creative juices to the tea party...

...In short, the story is a metaphor for how Alice uses her imagination to quench her boredom; Carroll says her favorite phrase is "let's pretend." What she also does is remind us how little we do that anymore..."

(Newsweek, Feb 26, 2010)

Lewis Carroll handpicked the accomplished illustrator John Tenniel to draw pictures of Alice for his story. His images were often simple and vague, so you could bring your own imagination to the tea party.

Here is an example:

Earlier on this blog, I have embedded an illustration by S G Joshi (सीताराम गंगाधर जोशी) for C V Joshi's (चिं. वि. जोशी) book.

Vasant Sarwate has done a moving appreciation of unsung S G Joshi's art in his book "Parakee Chalan", 1989.

He and I spoke on Joshi's work. Sarwate told me how he tried to meet Joshi in Joshi's home-town Baroda. We also speculated how little money would probably have come to Joshi for this work.

I feel, in following picture, Joshi has tried hard to motivate us to bring our imagination along with our appetite to the lunch!

Artist: S G Joshi सीताराम गंगाधर जोशी

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Gross Injustice to G A Kulkarni's Memory?

(There are a few more entries on this blog on G A Kulkarni and his art. Click here to access them.)

Recently I was reading "Priya Jee E Sa. Na. Vi. Vi.", 1994 (प्रिय जी. ए. स. न. वि. वि.) edited by G A Kulkarni's (जी. ए. कुलकर्णी) cousin-sister Nanda Paithankar (नंदा पैठणकर) one more time.

G A Kulkarni received Sahitya Akademi Award in 1973 for his collection of short stories 'Kajalmaya' (काजळमाया).

Although today it looks no more than a storm in teacup, the award created a huge controversy that stirred middle class Marathi world.

No one doubted the merit of the book but the controversy was about whether the book qualified for the award in the first place.

The criterion laid down by the Akademi was that the book had to be published between Jan 1 1970- Dec 31 1972.

'Kajalmaya' wasn't published before March 1973!

This was raked up by 'Maharashtra Times' (महाराष्ट्र टाईम्स) whose staff member wanted to hit Ramdas Bhatkal (रामदास भटकळ), GA's publiher. (So much bitching went on in that small, claustrophobic world)!

Instead G A was devastated by the controversy and promptly returned the award. He wrote many letters in great anguish and received as many.

Ms. Paithankar's book carries a lot of that correspondence and even carries a picture of the receipt of the award amount- the then princely amount of Rs. 5,000- by the Akademi.

The book has an undated- from 1975- English letter by G A Kulkarni to the Akademi where he says: "...I have no desire to accept the award as it is, whatever the rules of the Akademi, which do not recognize a new problem like my book's. Unless the Akademi condones the irregularity, or accepts the book definitely in 1972,The award may please be treated as permanently returned..."

Since the Akademi's website still carries G A's name as the recipient of 1973 award, it should refer to this controversy and announce there what G A desired so desperately: "condones the irregularity, or accepts the book definitely in 1972."

It should also clarify the small matter of Rs. 5,000 because G A's best friend Jaywant Dalwi (जयवंत दळवी), in a lighter vein, wondered if G A's 'return' cheque was ever encashed by the Akademi!

Friday, March 05, 2010

ITC, Don't Worry, Obama is on your side

"Smokers have to now pay more for their puffs as the Government today announced a steep hike in the excise duty in the Budget proposals. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while presenting the Budget today, announced an upward revision of excise rates up to Rs 2,363 per 1000 sticks." (PTI, Feb 26 2009)

And like Obama, Pranab Mukherjee, once a passionate smoker himself, will find it hard to quit spending and reign in India's fiscal deficit.

Artist: Scott Stantis

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan: I sometimes wonder who all this is really for

"akhil bharatiya marathi sahitya sammelan" (अखिल भारतीय मराठी साहित्य संमेलन) is upon us.

What connects following authors- not listed in any order- of 20th century in Marathi?

V K Rajwade, Bhalchandra Nemade, Sane Guruji, Bhau Padhye, C V Joshi, Baburao Arnalkar, Vilas Sarang, D G Godse, Vasant Sarwate, Vijay Tendulkar, Natyachhatakar Diwakar, G A Kulkarni, Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, B S Mardhekar, M V Dhond, T S Shejwalkar, Vinda Karandikar, Balkavi, Keshavsut, Jayant Narlikar, Laxmibai Tilak, Vinoba Bhave, Setu Madhavrao Pagdi, D B Mokashi, Sadanand Rege, Ram Ganesh Gadkari, Namdeo Dhasal, Govindrao Tembe, C T Khanolkar, S N Pendse, R V Dighe...

(वि का राजवाडे, भालचंद्र नेमाडे, साने गुरूजी, भाऊ पाध्ये, चिं. वि. जोशी, बाबूराव अर्नाळकर, विलास सारंग, द ग गोडसे, वसंत सरवटे, विजय तेंडुलकर, नाट्यछटाकार दिवाकर, जी ए कुलकर्णी, अरुण कोलटकर, दिलीप चित्रे, बा. सी. मर्ढेकर, म वा धोंड, त्र्यं शं शेजवलकर, विंदा करंदीकर, बालकवी, केशवसुत, जयंत नारळीकर, लक्ष्मीबाई टिळक, विनोबा भावे, सेतु माधवराव पगडी, दि. बा. मोकाशी, सदानंद रेगे, राम गणेश गडकरी, नामदेव ढसाळ, गोविंदराव टेंबे, चिं त्र्यं खानोलकर, श्री. ना. पेंडसे, र. वा. दिघे...)

They never became the president of All-India Marathi Literature Meet!

Other than holding sprawling (and eagerly awaited by me this year!) Marathi book exhibition, maybe these meets serve a purpose I don't quite understand.

'I sometimes wonder who all this is really for.'

The Spectator