Writer Mahasweta Devi dies at 90

The Padma Vibhushan honoree was undergoing treatment at the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata.

Sonal Pandya

Writer and former journalist Mahasweta Devi was a dedicated social activist who devoted her time to the cause of tribal people. She won several honours in her lifetime – the Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Padma Vibhushan and Bangabibhushan.

She suffered a major heart attack a week ago, on 23 July, and was undergoing treatment at Kolkata’s Belle Vue Clinic when she died late this afternoon. She was 90.

Mahasweta Devi was born on 14 January 1926 into a creative family of writers and poets in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She moved to India after Partition and completed her master’s from Calcutta University. Many of her stories were adapted into critically lauded Hindi films. Her Bengali short story, Layli Asmaner Ayna, was the basis of Dilip Kumar’s Sunghursh (1968).

Kalpana Lajmi took her short story, Rudali, and turned it into the National award-winning Rudaali (1993) starring Dimple Kapadia and Rakhee. In 1998, her novel, Hajar Chaurashir Maa, was made by Govind Nihalani into Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa with Jaya Bachchan and Anupam Kher.

Mahasweta Devi’s uncle was the noted filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak.