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Manohar Malgonkar passes away

Manohar Malgaonkar. File photo

Manohar Malgaonkar. File photo   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Apart from history, the army and communal politics during Partition, Malgonkar wrote of human relationships. As an author, he was a stark chronicler.

Manohar Malgonkar, the author, died in Jagalpet in Karnataka's Uttara Kannada district on Monday night. He was 97.

Born on July 12, 1913 in a royal family that had its roots in Goa, he graduated from Bombay University in English and Sanskrit. He became a professional big-game hunter (shot eight tigers), and would arrange shoots for the royalty. He later gave up the pursuit and became a fierce wildlife conservationist.

He served in the Maratha Light Infantry, in counter-intelligence, and on the Army's General Staff during the Second World War, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He later took to business and farming. He owned and operated manganese mines near Jagalbet.

He was active in the Swatantra Party. He stood for Parliament twice in the 1970s, unsuccessfully. These were turbulent years in Indian history that provided the backdrop for some of his works. He was 47 when he wrote his first book, Distant Drum (1960). Shashi Goyal (in Indian Writings in English, edited by Manmohan K Bhatnagar), says his army life experiences were beautifully reflected in Distant Drum and that the book laid bare the spirit of the Indian soldier.Goyal considers Distant Drum an epitaph for the British Indian army.

Professor Vispi Balaporia says: “I remember his works were very sensitive and very gripping. He always had a good grip on the plot and A Bend in the Ganges comes to my mind.” He was no run-of-the-mill writer, yet his works were popular with a large number of modern readers and not only the discerning type, she said.

Malgonkar dealt with the freedom struggle and Partition in A Bend in the Ganges.Compared with contemporaries such as Khushwant Singh, Kamala Markandeya and Mulk Raj Anand, he wrote on the conflict between the imperial power and Indians differently, and was often criticised for his positive characterisation of the British.

Apart from history, the army and communal politics during Partition, Malgonkar wrote of human relationships.

He wrotefive English novels: Distant Drum (1960), Combat of Shadows (1962), The Princes (1963), A Bend in the Ganges (1964), and The Devil's Wind (1972). His works of history are Kanhoji Angrey (1959), Puars of Dewas Senior (1962), and Chhatrapatis of Kolhapur (1971). He wrote scripts for movies,short stories and many newspaper articles.

The body was cremated with military honours in the compound of his bungalow on Tuesday evening. Relatives and environmental activists were present. He is survived by his son-in-law, his daughter having predeceased him 12 years ago.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:39:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/Manohar-Malgonkar-passes-away/article16245450.ece

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