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'Vijay Tendulkar could read the human mind'

By Patcy N
May 21, 2008 15:15 IST
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Dr Jabbar Patel is renowned theatre personality and director who made movies like Simhasan, Umbartha, Jait Re Jait and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. He worked very closely with Vijay Tendulkar, who passed away on Monday. Dr Patel talks about his association with the playwright.

I first came across Vijay Tendulkar's play when I was studying in medical college in Solapur. I read his play Manush Navache Bet (Man is an Island). After reading that I came to know how different his narration is. It had very realistic dialogues, no melodrama and no lengthy monologues, very short and sweet understandable dialogues though he was very vehement and adamant about his thought.


After taking his permission we performed it in our college. Later when at a intercollegiate festival I did a one act play called Bali he noticed my work. I was associated with the group called Progressive Dramatic Association from Pune. At that time Vijay Tendulkar was associated with a group called Rangayan. All his new plays would first go to Rangayan and then other groups could perform it.


I once went to him and told him that I wanted his new play as I wanted to participate in a contest. But he said no the first right on his work is for Rangayan. But he gave me the translation of the English play Hasty Hearts written by John Patrick that he had done and even though we did not win we got lots of critical acclaim.


Then when I got my first chance to direct a play he gave me Assi Pakare Yeti. I did the Hindi translation which was called Aise Panchi Aate Hain. I did about 300 shows of this play.


When I went to Daund for my studies he called me. He was writing a play and he had written about nine pages of it. He wanted me to go through it as this was the play that he wanted written with the collaborative help of a writer and director. After I read those nine pages I loved it. He told me he would complete the play and give it to me after three months. When I got the play it was Ghasiram Kotwal. It was the most successful play. We did it at many festivals in India and abroad. It was the first Indian play to go to the Berlin Theatre Festival. We travelled to North America, Cannada, Europe, the undivided USSR. And the best thing was that the audiences were made up of non-Indians.


My first film Samna was

written by him. He also did the screenplay and we got the national award and the film was a great success. It was not a great success because of my direction but because of his strong writing


He further wrote Umbartha and Simhasan. He could read the human mind and his plays and films were for every layer of society. He himself was an activist, a journalist, theatre personality and a columnist and he managed many things at a time.


He gave Shyam Benegal two of his great movies Nishant and Manthan and to Govind Nihalani Ardh Satya and Aakrosh.


My movie Simhasan was a thriller was written with the help of two novels with different things happening and every thing would come together in the end. During those days every politician would have a copy of that movie because it gave them political knowledge.


For me he was a visionary but sometimes he threatened to became extreme (like in the Narendra Modi's case). But everybody stood by him as they knew what he meant and that he was not physically going to kill anyone.


I met him a month before his death he had asked doctors to remove all the tubes and stop giving him medicines as he was frustrated. I had a fight with him that time as I am from the medical profession. I did not like that he interfered with the doctors line of treatment as I had hope that he could be cured. Two days after that he was again on the life support and medicine.


Eight days before his death when I met him he looked very fresh. But I knew his end was near as I spoke Dr Prayag who was treating his for the past year.


It was his death wish that as soon as he dies the funeral should be performed without religious rites. His body should not be kept waiting, no speeches given. He wanted no media coverage and Mohan Agashe therefore requested media to stay away.


I think now people will not miss Vijay Tendulkar that much. But once they have a problem or dilemma they will miss him because they will need his opinion. I always went to him when I had a problem he would talk to me and give advice. I will miss him. He was the man of the century.

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Patcy N