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Marathi Writer Ratnakar Matkari Dies of Covid

MUMBAI:Veteran Marathi writer and playwright Ratnakar Matkari, 81, who tested positive for Covid-19, passed away on Monday.

Considered a pioneer of the children’s drama movement in Marathi, Matkari died at a hospital in suburban Marol on Sunday night.

From story books for kids to plays, his work in Marathi literature was phenomenal, a writer said.

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), DubhangAshwamedhJawai Maaza BhalaChaar Diwas PremacheGhar Tighanche HaweKhol 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”.

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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