One of my favourite authors in Marathi is Bhalchandra Vanaji Nemade. Let me give you some background info on this amazing man. He was born in a village called Sangavi in Maharashtra on May 27th 1938. He studied for his Bachelor’s Degree in Fergusson College, Pune and he has not one but TWO Master’s Degrees – in English Literature from Mumbai University and in Linguistics from Deccan College, Pune. His PhD and D.Lit degrees were from North Maharashtra University and have been the torchbearer of many students who learn here.
He was also a great teacher as he taught English, Marathi and comparative literature in several institutions, including the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, before he retired Gurudeo Tagore Chair from Mumbai University.
It didn’t take long for the literary community to recognize his talent. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991 for Teeka Svayanwar. And on the 5th of February, 2015, he received the prestigious Jnanpith award. This was the 50th Jnanpith Award and it is the highest honour in Indian Literature and Nemade is the fourth Marathi writer to win this award. I can think of no one better to receive this award and it’s an undisputable fact that he brings glory to the chair he sits and the awards he has amassed. He also won the Padma Shri in 2011.
I remember being so engrossed in his first novel, it was called Kosala, (meaning Cocoon) and was published in 1963. It is based loosely on his own life and he managed to write this masterpiece in just sixteen days. It has been described as a novel that was ‘instrumental in changing the dimensions of the Marathi novel.’ His other novels were Hool, Zarila(1977), Bidar(1967) Zhool(1979) and Hindu – Jagnyachi Samruddha Adgal. His poetry collections included Melody and Dekhani.
Nemade was also a literary critic and his work in this area include ‘The Influence of English on Marathi : A Sociolinguistic and Stylistic Study,’ ‘Rajahauns Prakashan, Indo-Anglian Writings: Two Lectures’ and ‘Nativism (Desivad), Indian Institute of Advanced Study.’ He propagated the theory of Deshivad which is a theory of nativism.
It emphasized the importance of the value of a write’s native heritage and language. Nemade has been recognized to be a strong advocate of literary movements in India. He was the leader of the Little Magazine Movement in the 1960s. He was also the editor of a Marathi Magazine called Vacha during this time.
I am very proud to be able to say that a winner of this prestigious award comes from my state.