Anant Antarkar

(1911 to 1966)

अनंत अंतरकर

“Anant Antarkar’s name would continue to be immortal so long as periodicals continue to exist.” These laudatory sentiments were expressed by the President of ‘Sahitya Sanskruti Mahamandal- Literature and Cultural association’ and well-known litterateur Shri Madhu Mangesh Karnik on the occasion of celebration of birth centenary of Late Anant Antarkar. The magazines, ‘Hans-Swan’, ‘Mohini’ and ‘Nawal- Novelty’ devoted to various themes started by Anant Antarkar exist even after 69 years today and are widely popular among their readers only on the strength of the quality of their literary content. This success is a true symbol of Antarkar’s literary vision.
Anant Antarkar (Birth: 1st December 1911-Jamkhindi, Death: 4th October 1966-Pune) inherited his literary talent from his father. His father B.L.Antarkar was a famous teacher in Konkan. He was a scholar of Sanskrit. He had also acquired mastery in English. His Marathi translated volumes ‘Saroop Shakuntal’, ‘Meghadootachhaya’ and ‘Rubaya (of Omar Khayyam) were widely acclaimed in those days. Anant Antarkar literary interest was nurtured in the company of such an illustrious father. He was an avid reader of magazines like ‘Yeshwant’,’Ratnakar’,’Manoranjan’ which were rich in literary content. In addition to ancient Sanskrit literature, he had also studied contemporary masterly poets and authors like Gadkari, H.N.Apte, C.V.Joshi, Kolhatkar, Poet Yeshwant and Balkavi. Scholars frequently came and met his father and their literary discussions about Marathi and English books enlightened him. When he heard their scholarly discussions, he also started study of English literature.
When he was in school, he had published a hand-written magazine namely ‘Vidya-Vinod- Literary pursuit’ with great enthusiasm. When he saw it, his teacher Phatak had predicted that he would grow up to be an excellent editor.
Antarkar came to Mumbai for his education. He was attracted to acting and drama direction but his love for literature proved to be stronger. Antarkar started his journalistic pursuit. His literary profile started getting moulded with his deep study and analysis of different types of stories, poetry, literary criticism, drama, satirical poems and humour. He read and studied many classic legendary authors like Shakespeare, Marlow, Bernard Shaw, O.Henry, Chekov, Tolstoy and popular authors like P.G.Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Somerset Maugham and Arthur Conan Doyle. In addition to contemporary Marathi periodicals, he also regularly read Western classical periodicals like ‘Strand’ and ’Variety.’ His awareness in literature and art was far ahead of formal education. His classicist editorial profile was moulded in this way. He also made ample contribution by writing in many forms.
His metrical poems started getting published when he was seventeen or eighteen years old. Between 1930 to 1938,he wrote articles, reported news and also worked as an editor in various dailies and weeklies .His poetry and prose were published in various magazines like ‘Sanjivani- nectar’, ‘Vihar’, ‘Vividh Wrutta- Various news’, ‘Mouj-fun’,’Satyakatha-true stories’,’Prabhat-dawn’, ‘Chitra’, ‘Dhanurdhari-Archer’etc. He used to contribute fewer than fourteen different pen-names. He also used to write a short play every week for Akashvani-All India Radio-Mumbai. His books ‘Chorate Halle-Attacks on the sly’ and ‘Galiv Ratne-Selected diamonds’ published in 1940 and 1942 respectively were popularly acclaimed as excellent creations of polished humour.
He became the Managing Editor of the periodical ‘Satyakatha’, which was published as a magazine known for its serious demeanour, in 1938 when he was just twenty seven years old. He published literature of high quality written many acclaimed authors and made this periodical a leading literary magazine. He ably edited ‘Vasant-Spring’ magazine during 1942 to 1945.
After more than a decade in service of literature, Anant Antarkar was longing for owning a magazine which was rich in literary content and taste. To realise his dream, he toiled hard, at times he had to forego his basic needs and in the end he was able to save a meagre sum of money. He started the magazine, ‘Hans’, which could be called his own. Followed by ‘Hans’, he launched ‘Mohini’ which was mainly a humour magazine in 1950. After four years, in 1954, he launched ‘Naval-Surprise’ which was novel in every aspect.
He successfully promoted artistic story form of literature through ‘Hans’ nurtured it and saw it grow. He gave the new literary form-Short Story-, a place of prestige and established a new ‘Hans-era’ in Marathi literature. ‘Hans’ became the only and unique magazine which did not allow any particular style to overpower its content and acknowledged the existence of autonomous existence of a freestyle story. Many of the literary stalwarts in the past generations had started their career through the medium of ‘Hans’ and ‘Mohini’. In addition to stories, ‘Hans’ also regularly published thought provoking articles and literary criticism authored by S.M.Matey, S.K.Kshirsagar and Vasant Shantaram Desai.
He created a platform of high quality for humourous articles, cartoons, stories and also arts like plays and cinema through the medium of ‘Mohini’ magazine. The cartoon on its front page became a unique feature and attraction of ‘Mohini’. Famous critic Shri V.L.Kulkarni had mentioned about the importance of contribution of ‘Mohini’ in the growth of humour writing when he was speaking as the President of Sahitya Sammelan-Literary Conclave. ‘Naval’ provided a prestigious platform to uniquely accomplished but neglected literature forms of writings in mystery, frightening, astonishing, science-fiction etc. Expert scholars in Indian literature give the credit of science fiction still being in existence in Marathi only to ‘Naval’. The stories by Ratnakar Matkari and Narayan Dharap published in this magazine had mystic variety as well as literary qualities. A generation of young authors who wrote in a different genre was created through ‘Naval’.
Antarkar’s original and liberal editorial vision had given a firm and specific direction to the development of Marathi literature. The form of all the three magazines was so alluring and beautiful that contemporary magazines started imitating them. Many similar magazines were launched during the same period. It was only through relentless conscious efforts of Antarkar that many story forms like short stories, mystery stories, fantasy, and horror stories flourished without being imprisoned in the four walls of ‘new’ art form or noveau form. Its autonomy was protected with gusto and care by Antarkar. This resulted in rich contribution to Marathi literature through brilliant works of illustrious authors like G.A.Kulkarni, D, B.Mokashi, Gangadhar Gadgil, Arvind Gokhale, D.P.Khambete and Vasundhara Patwardhan.
Antarkar always made efforts to introduce new story writers and their new experiments in story writing. Antarkar always put in dedicated and relentless efforts to look for the spark of literary brilliance in an author, to nurture it, to discuss with him how his writing could be more effective, to guide him about many more areas in which he could contribute, at times re-write his entire work, conduct story writing competitions and in the process creating a new generation of authors. He also presented new thoughts in literature through his magazines; especially’Hans’, which could be useful to the new authors. Antarkar felt that it was equally important to mould readers- as important as developing new authors. He started an initiative to make the literary outlook of the reader broader and more aware; this was about introduction and evaluation and critiquing of great works of literature from abroad. He published excellent translation of works from abroad in his magazines. He would organize a competition in translation .This initiative has definitely helped in thinking about Marathi literature in the context of excellent work on the global platform and developing it in a different direction.
The standard of cartoons in ‘Hans-Mohini’ was much higher in comparison with contemporary and other magazines. The form of cartoons in other magazines was populist and gaudy. He guided the cartoonists in Marathi by showing them the cartoons from many foreign magazines and also by discussing about them. He made it a point to publish articles with great taste about cartoons from overseas magazines. This resulted in creation of precise, intelligent cartons with minimum support from and apt use of words.
Beautification was a unique feature of the magazine. The sense of visual aesthetics and fascinating layouts which did justice to the eye for beauty of the artist, use of technology resulting in completeness and perfection in printing made the magazine outstanding.
Antarkar was a creative author and an accomplished painter .He is a rare and dedicated editor to whom the largest number books in Marathi have been dedicated.
Antarkar’s magazines, which made tasteful artistry as their soul aim of existence and which refused to be supported by commercial considerations like advertisements and government aid became successful only with the support of connoisseur readers and this indeed is a miracle in the history of Marathi literature.

Anant Antarkar
(1st December 1911 - 4th October 1966)

written by -Aruna Antarkar, Hemlata Antarkar
Translated by - Prof. V. A. Uapdhye

साहित्यिक दस्तावेज

मराठीतल्या निवडक ज्येष्ठ आणि श्रेष्ठ साहित्यिकांविषयीची माहिती दस्तऐवज स्वरूपात नोंदवून ठेवण्याचा उपक्रम आम्ही यंदा सलग तिसऱ्या वर्षीही राबवत आहोत. हा उपक्रम यापुढेही सुरू राहणार आहे.

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देवनागरी / मराठी
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