Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Tendulkar the Colossus, and me

Vijay Tendulkar had titled Acharya Atre's obituary, Prachand (Colossus), as it appeared in Marathi weekly Monoos in June 1969. It was a tribute to the giant literary figure based on his own experiences in Atre's daily Maratha.

Atre was the employer journalist while Tendulkar was a sub-editor in the daily which he had left on matters of principles. Few would have expected Tendulkar writing the obituary the way he did. It was a rare masterpiece on Atre, written by anybody before and after his death. It brought out the finer qualities of the man who was playwright, poet, filmmaker, satirist, political leader, and educationist, all rolled in one. The article's title Prachand was an allusion also to the giant body that housed the Colossus.

As a student of journalism in Pune, I was fascinated by the contents and the style of Tendulkar's writing. I was not aware till then that he was on the editorial desk of Mumbai's Loksatta. I wrote to him a letter describing how I liked the article, not expecting him to reply. Reply he did, and we continued to exchange letters for sometime.

In one letter, I had wondered how Loksatta could commit blunders in front page stories when it had journalists like him. His response was prompt and so characteristic of him: 'Why do you read Loksatta?. I don't. I do my job of editing the edit page to earn my livelihood and forget about the newspaper until I come back to duty the next day. Do not expect too much if you too are going to work as journalist.'

Like most dreamy-eyed greenhorns entering journalism, I too had plans to transform the society. Interaction with Tendulkar brought me down to the ground. But then, I was overtaken by the ambition to write the way he did. He asked me to be myself. Eventually, I could not become another Tendulkar, but remained only a reporter reporting what the likes of him did or did not do.

I tried to emulate his writing style when I had the occasion to write an obit on Dr N B Parulekar in 1973. As a student of journalism, I had worked as a part-time sub-editor-cum-reporter in Parulekar's Sakal for about a year. I ventured to write the piece only on the basis of this brief stint. The article was titled, Shai Sukun Geli (Ink dried up) and was published in Manoos, then a respected weekly publication.

It has remained my favourite piece of writing in Marathi. That is because Tendulkar had sent me a post card with only four words written in his green ink pen: lekh Changala Zala Ahe (It was a good article).


1 comment:

anant said...

really delighted by visiting your blog.Last year history section of my pc was showing number of media blogs,from mediaah of praddumn maheshwary to letusbhankas of pravin tokekar.Congratulations for this venture.