Anant Kanekar

(1905 – 1980)

अनंत काणेकर

Anant Kanekar who had established his identity as a poet and short-story writer had also tried his skills in the fields of dramatics and news-paper journalism. Kanekar had an inclination towards modernity as well as attraction of novelty. This can be seen in his literary work. While writing short stories, poetry, essays and in news-papers, he moved away from the routine and tried to put life in his writings. We see a rare blend of playful humour and philosophical studiousness in his writings.
Anant Kanetkar was born on 2nd December 1905 in Mumbai. His father worked in Police Forces. But his father passed away when he was barely two and a half or three years old. He was brought up by his grandmother and uncle. He did his secondary schooling in Chikitsak Samooha Shala in Mumbai. He did his B.A. from Saint Xavier’s College in Mumbai followed by acquiring LL.B in law. However, when one reads his biography, one sees that he does not seem to have settled in any one profession. He was engaged in Advertising profession for a few years from 1927. After completing his examination in law in 1930, he practised as a lawyer and after this he bade farewell to the lawyer’s attire for good. In 1950, he dabbled in business of coal manufacturing. He did not succeed in any of these professions. However, all these struggles demonstrate his multi-faceted personality. He worked as a journalist by taking up the responsibility as an editor of ‘Chitra’ magazine from 1935 to 1941. After this, he moved towards teaching profession and taught Marathi both in Khalasa and Sidharth colleges.
During his early years, he was greatly influenced by Marxism. Around 1930, he was active in Marxist movement. In the 1931 Congress Convention at Karachi, the agreement between Mahatma Gandhi and British Viceroy Lord Irwin was about to be officially authenticated. Two days prior to signing the agreement, the revolutionaries ;Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were executed. Kanekar was also one of the Communists who had gone to Karachi to protest against Lord Irwin who had the blood of the revolutionaries on his hands and they did not want Gandhiji to shake hands with him. His Communist colleague Dr. Y.G.Chitnis had started ‘Labour College’ for workers in Mumbai. Kanekar used to conduct classes there to create Trade Union leaders. During the same period, he also met the revolutionary leader. Manvendra Roy. Kanekar was influenced by him. In the later years also, he continued to have strong faith in socialism based on communism. He was a friend of Marxist journalist Prabhakar Padhye.
With the help of like-minded friends like Narayan Kale and Shridhar Vinayak Vartak, he established an institution by name ‘Natya Manwantar’. He staged the play ‘Andhalyanchi Shala- School for the blind’ written by Vartak. He mainly staged adaptations of Ibsen’s plays through the medium of this institution. He adopted Ibsen’s ‘Doll’s house’ into a Marathi play called ‘Ghar Kul’. Similarly, his adopted plays ‘Nishikantachi Navari- Wife of Nishikant ‘and ‘Zunj- Confrontation’ were staged in 1938 and 1954 respectively. Apart from this his collections of one act plays namely ‘Dhoor ani itar ekankika- Smoke and other one-act plays’ and ‘Sambar- a deer’ and some more one act plays are famous. Many stalwarts in the field of Dramatics of those years like Keshawrao Date, Keshawrao Bhole and Jyotsna Bhole also supported ‘Natya Manwantar’.
After this, Kanekar wrote poetry too. In fact, he had also written some poems in his school days too. However, his first collection of poems,’ Chand raat and other poems- Moonlit night and other poems’ could be published only much later, in 1933 . Before this, some poems from this collection were published in ‘Ratnakar’, a popular magazine during those days. Kanekar also wrote many short stories. ‘Jagatya Chaya- Live shadows, Morpees- Peacock feather, Diwyawarati andhar, Darkness above the lamp, Kali Mehuni-Dark sister –in-law and other stories ‘are his famous short stories collections. However, what left a deep impression behind was his work as a short-essayist. Freeflowing, tongue-in-cheek, simple and straight forward style, simple experiences which touched everyone’s heart and his simple philosophy of life presented through these essays were his indelible footprints. ‘Pikalee paane-Ripe leaves, Shimpale ani moti-shells and pearls, Tutalele tare- shooting stars, Ughadya khidkya- open windows, Prakashachi dare- Doors of light ‘were some of his famous short essay collections.
In his travelogue one can see his carefree, sensitive, nature loving personality. ’Dhukyatoon lal taryakade- From mist to red star, Amachi maati aamache aakash- our soil –our sky, Laal taryanchyaa prakashat-In the glow of a red star’ are his renowned travelogues.
He started the weekly magazine ‘Chitra’ along with dramatist M.G.Rnganekar. The responsibility of political aspect was taken up by Kanekar. M.G.Rnganekar was handling the responsibility of movies, plays and editing. This editor pair introduced many novel changes in the content and presentation of the magazine and moved away from the beaten path treaded by other magazines. A variety of series of articles, new columns, their experiments with language and presentation were imitated by many others. His technique of serious criticism in a humourous manner proved to be very successful. After ‘Chitra’, Kanekar started his own magazine ‘Asha’. While writing in both weeklies; ‘Chitra’ and ‘Asha’, he handled various topics.
He graced the post of President of Sahitya Sammelan (Literary Conclave) in Aurangabad in 1957. The Samyukta Maharashtra Movement was at its peak at that time. In his written speech as a President, he criticized in a scathing language, the people who were opposing the movement. Many requested him to exclude that portion from his speech and there was also a talk that he would change his written speech but on the contrary, he displayed undaunting conviction by emphasizing that portion while reading the speech.
Government of India honoured him by conferring on him the title of ‘Padmshree’. He was also distinguished recipient of ‘Soviet Land Nehru Award’. His autobiography ‘Ananatika’ Never ending story’ was published in 1979.
This luminary who was inclined towards leftist thoughts and who was modern in his thoughts, who was a connoisseur and who had an eye for beauty, who led a carefree life, passed away on 4th May 1980.

Anant Kanekar
(2Dec.1905-4 May 1980)

Written by - Manohar Sonawane
Translated by- Pro. V.A. Upadhye

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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