On Gajanan Digambar Madgulkar's 99th birth anniversary, his grandson Sumitr Madgulkar reflects on his struggles and his achievements.
Grandson Sumitr on writer, poet, actor, freedom fighter GD Madgulkar – Birth anniversary special
Mumbai - 30 Sep 2018 21:00 IST
Gajanan Digambar Madgulkar aka GD Madgulkar aka GaDiMa in Marathi was a multi-faceted personality who excelled as a poet, lyricist, author, playwright, actor and editor of a magazine. That was not all. He also contributed to India’s independence movement and later joined politics.
On the eve of his 99th birth anniversary [GaDiMa was born on 1 October 1919], his grandson Sumitr Madgulkar recalled his life and shared fond memories of his grandfather.
“He tried his hand at each and every field of Marathi and Hindi films and Marathi literature," Sumitr Madgulkar said. "And he was equally successful in almost all fields, including politics. Apart from his genius, he was a family man of strong values who respected our traditions and culture. He was strongly attached to his roots.”
Madgulkar’s childhood wasn’t an idyllic one though. “GaDiMa’s father was a clerk in Aundh state," said Sumitr. "He suffered in poverty for most of his childhood. The ruler, Bhavanrao Pant Pratinidhi, was very generous. He opened free schools and hostels for poor students of his realm. GaDiMa was one of his students.
"But unfortunately, owing to family issues, he left his studies after the ninth standard and went to Kolhapur for work at the age of 18-19.”
Madgulkar’s life took a positive turn when his school teacher referred him to the great writer-director Prahlad Keshav Atre aka Acharya Atre. This ensured his entry into the film world.
“Atre referred him to the famous producer-director-actor Master Vinayak," said Sumitr. "During his initial days, he acted in many Marathi films like Brahmachari (1938) and Brandichi Batli (1939) as an extra. Those days were very difficult; he used to sleep outside a grocery shop and spent many nights without food."
Madgulkar got his first chance to write the lyrics for Pahila Palna (1942). But his first major success came with V Shantaram's Lokshahir Ram Joshi (1947). “Along with writing the songs and the screenplay, he also acted in that film," recalled Sumitr. "It became a big hit and he never looked back. In his entire career, he penned stories, screenplays and dialogues for almost 157 Marathi films and 25 Hindi films and wrote more than 2,000 Marathi songs.”
Stating the importance of Madgulkar’s work, the grandson pointed out, “Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa (1957) and the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Black (2005) are supposed to have been inspired by stories originally written by GaDiMa. Rajesh Khanna's Avtaar (1983) and the Amitabh-starrer Baghban (2003) were based on his famous film Oon Paus (1954).”
Recalling his personal moments with his grandfather, Sumitr said, “I used to call him Papa Ajoba [papa grandpa]. I was only two and a half years old when he passed away, so I have very blurred memories of him. He used to sit on his famous blue couch that was in a corner of the verandah of our bungalow. Most of his famous writings of Marathi and Hindi films and Geet Ramayan were done there.”
Sumitr recalled that his grandfather was a short-tempered man. “Not only his children but everyone who knew him, including colleagues, fellow writers, musicians and even his politician friends, were scared of his temper. His nature was soft but he was very hot-headed and would go all guns blazing to ensure that certain things were done exactly as he wanted them,” he said.
But his grandson was an exception for Madgulkar: “I used to go to his blue couch and pull his fingers saying ‘Papa Ajoba, get up from here and sit on the front chair.' He never scolded me for that. He used to say, 'He is the only one who has asked me to get up from my throne. He is my grandfather Baba Baman and will carry forward my name’.”
That is exactly what the younger Madgulkar has been doing. Since 1998, Sumitr runs a website with complete information on Madgulkar, including a comprehensive database of his works and songs.
“Though I never became a writer or a poet like him, after completing my master's in instrumentation, I realized that to carry forward his genius and his legacy, it needs to be provided in technology to the new generation. So, I launched his website gadima.com in 1998. It was the first multimedia website in Marathi literature dedicated to any author,” he said.
“Later, I launched CDs, DVDs and pen drive versions of his songs and literature. I created an Android app of his famous epic Geet Ramayan and launched his music album Jogia with Sony Music. So in that way he was right in saying I will carry forward his name.”