MUMBAI:Eminent Marathi novelist, poet and critic Bhalchandra Nemade, was on Friday chosen for the prestigious Jnanpith Award in the field of literature.
A lecturer of English, Nemade, 76, is known for his emphasis on Deshivad (indigenisation) in his literature. He is a strong advocate of teaching in mother tongue and had advised the government to close down all the English medium schools because they were the “carriers of Westernisation”. He believes that Indian writing in English is not authentic and that Hindu organisations have ruined the Hindu society.
Known for his outspoken views, Nemade wrote his first novel Kosala (Cocoon) in 1963 in just 16 days. The fictitious autobiographical novel on a youth from rural Maharashtra, who studies in Pune, was loosely based on his life. Kosla was translated into a number of languages including English, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Oriya and Urdu etc.
Kosla made Nemade a cult figure among the readers, who were proud to call themselves “Nemadpanthi” (followers of Nemade).
His style of writing has influenced an entire generation of readers especially those from the rural areas.
His views on several issues had frequently made headlines. He had mocked a respected literary figure and Jnanpith Award winner V V Shirwadkar, also known as Kusumagraj, for the influence of Shakespeare on his plays.
However, the Kusumagraj Pratishthan had chosen Nemade for a prestigious Janasthan Puraskar some years later.
He had once said that Lord Ram had ill-treated Sita and so, women in this country should oppose construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Nemade’s recent novel ‘Hindu- Jaganyatil Samruddha Adgal’ (Hindu- a prosperous junk in life) was published in 2010. In this novel, he sought to erase the fundamentalist image of Hinduism and redefine the concept of what is to be Hindu.
According to him, Hindus are intimate with Muslims and have developed a unique culture with them all over the world.
He had studied documents pertaining to Dravidian societies before writing ‘Hindu’.
He had established that marriages between the Aryans and the Dravidian existed in the past.
A winner of Sahitya Akadami Award (1991) Nemade was conferred Padma Shri in 2001.
He also has other novels like ‘Hool’, ‘Bidar’ (1967), ‘Zarila’ (1977) and ‘Jhool’ (1979) as well as anthology of poetry like ‘Dekhni’ and ‘Melody’ to his credit.
Nemade expressed happiness over the Jnanpith award.
“I am proud of the cultural sensibility of Marathi people. They have tolerated my writing. I didn’t have to go to jail or face any major agitations,” he said.