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An era comes to an end

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An era comes to an end

The news came in late at night. Kiran Nagarkar, the playwright and novelist, passed away in Mumbai on September 5. He had suffered a brain haemorrhage earlier in the week. And last year, at the height of #MeToo movement, three women journalists had levelled allegations against him which he had denied. And yet, he will be remembered as a famed playwright and novelist who gave us the much-loved 'Ravaan and Eddie' trilogy and taught us to question authoritarianism and intolerance.

It was in the crowded media centre of a famous literary festival, last year, that I first met Nagarkar. And it was also the only time I met him. It was here that most of us journalists interviewed our favourite authors. He sat at the corner of the terrace away from the star writers of the times and watched in amusement how youngsters were busy getting clicked with the 'selfie-generation' authors. With little public attention on him, we spoke at length about Marathi literature and translations, matters close to his heart.

Nostalgia often leaving him a little moist-eyed.Nagarkar, one of the most powerful post-colonial writers, wrote his first book Saat Sakkam Trechalis in Marathi in 1974. It's an experimental streamof-consciousness novel that jumps through time and received much critical acclaim. It was later translated into English as Seven Sixes Are Forty Three in 2003. Even though he was fluent in Marathi, he became a popular novelist in English. He shot to fame with his first play Bedtime Story written soon after Emergency, and wrote seven novels (in Marathi and English).

His 1997 book Cuckold won him the 2001 Sahitya Akademi Award in English. He was a writer who gave us hope. Something rare in times we live in.