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Coronavirus update: Veteran Marathi playwright and author Ratnakar Matkari dies at 81

Matkari was admitted to hospital earlier this month after complaining of exhaustion. Tests showed he had contracted the COVID-19 ailment.

Our Correspondent

Veteran Marathi playwright and author Ratnakar Matkari died late last night after contracting the COVID-19 illness. He was 81.

Matkari's son, author and film critic Ganesh Matkari, said in a statement that his father began suffering from exhaustion earlier in the month and was admitted to the Godrej Memorial Hospital at Vikhroli in suburban Mumbai. Tests at the hospital revealed that the senior Matkari had contracted COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 disease).

Following this, the veteran writer was shifted to the Seven Hills Hospital at Marol, Andheri (East), for further treatment. He died at the hospital last night.

Ratnakar Matkari’s first work was a one-act play titled Vedi Manase (Crazy People), written when he was just 17. The play was performed on the Mumbai station of All India Radio and thus began his journey as a playwright.

Matkari went on to write a number of popular Marathi stage plays, short stories and novels along with stories and plays for children. Some of his works were transformed into films, with Matkari himself writing the screenplay and dialogues. He was also a popular columnist in Marathi newspapers and magazines over the years.

In his condolence message, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray told the Press Trust of India news agency, “We have lost a precious gem from the world of literature. He wrote for children and for grown-ups as well. His immense contribution in various forms such as plays, short stories and novels enriched the world of Marathi literature.”

Some of Matkari's celebrated plays are Lok Katha 78, Dubhang, Ashwamedh, Mazha Kai Chukla?, Zaawai Mazha Bhala, Chaar Diwas Premache, Ghar Tighancha Hava, Khol Khol Paani, Indira and Aaranyak.

Matkari made his debut as filmmaker at the age of 75 with the acclaimed Investment (2013), based on his own short story of the same name. It won the National award for Best Marathi Feature Film that year.

In 2018, Matkari wrote the dialogues for Mahesh Manjrekar’s well-received two-part biopic of celebrated litterateur, humorist and filmmaker PL Deshpande, titled Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli (2019).

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