Marathi writer, playwright Ratnakar Matkari dead

File photo of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presenting Sangeet Natak Academi Awards 2003 to Ratnakar Matkari for his contribution to Marathi literature, in New Delhi on October 26, 2004.

File photo of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presenting Sangeet Natak Academi Awards 2003 to Ratnakar Matkari for his contribution to Marathi literature, in New Delhi on October 26, 2004.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

A versatile writer with mastery over various art forms, he was synonymous with the suspense thriller genre

Ratnakar Matkari, a prolific writer-director, died late on Sunday after being diagnosed with COVID-19 at a city hospital. Matkari was 81.

After being hospitalised for a routine check-up at Godrej Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, Matkari was shifted to SevenHills Hospital once his COVID-19 test result came positive. He breathed his last around midnight on Sunday.

Matkari is considered one of the most versatile writers in the rich legacy of Marathi literature. More than the longevity of his artistic sojourn — with his first one-act play Wedi Manase having aired on All India Radio in 1955 when he was a teenager — it’s his wide range of mastery over various forms and stories that has been acknowledged by connoisseurs and readers/ viewers alike.

For more than six decades, Matkari emerged as a stand-out writer who catered primarily to the Maharastrian middle-class, handling various forms of writing. While his mastery over thrillers (goodh katha) earned him accolades, he remained a playwright at heart. He has more than 90 plays — of which more than 20 are children’s plays — to his credit. His published literature also includes an array of short stories, compilations of essays and his theatre autobiography Maaze Rangaprayog.

Among his most popular works of art include plays like Aranyak (a blank verse-based format based on the concluding chapter from Mahabharata), Lokakatha 78 (portrayal of Dalit life), Dubhang, Ashwamedh, Jawai Maaza Bhala, Chaar Diwas Premache, Ghar Tighanche Hawe, Khol Khol Paani and Indira. Besides, his children’s plays like Alabatya Galabatya and Nimma Shimma Rakshah were recently revived.

Despite his success as a playwright, Matkari remained synonymous with the suspense thriller genre that he dominated with his stories and screenplays. Gahire Paani is considered a milestone in the genre in Marathi literature, both as a book and a television serial that he converted it into. He took pride in admitting that since writing was his “profession”, he would devote “eight hours a day, six days a week” to writing.

Actor Prashant Damle, who played a protagonist in four titles penned by Matkari, including Chaar Diwas Premache which clocked more than 1,000 shows, referred to the playwright as “an all-rounder”.

“I am extremely fortunate to have been able to work with him in four plays of different forms. I consider working with him as one of the turning points of my acting career,” Mr. Damle told The Hindu.

“His abundance of talent reflected in the fact that he could effortlessly switch between various art forms. From goodh katha (thriller stories) to light romantic plays, from social issues to baalnatya (children’s plays), he had mastered all the art forms. He was indeed a true all-rounder. With his demise, not only Marathi, but Indian theatre fraternity has lost a prolific writer and a pillar of support,” he said.

He has received several awards over the years. His film Investment won the National Film Award for the best Marathi feature film. Besides, he belongs to the select band of artistes to have been honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Sahitya Akademi.

He is survived by his wife Pratibha, an actor-producer; daughter Supriya Vinod an actor; and son Ganesh, a writer-critic.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 3:09:15 PM |

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