Mumbai, October 2022: Acclaimed playwright, screen writer, essayist, actor and professor, Mahesh Elkunchwar, one of India’s most influential literary voices, has been conferred the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022.
Renowned both in India and abroad, Mr Elkunchwar’s body of work has spanned several decades of nuanced, insightful, contemporary reflections across genres, covering a range of scenarios from rural and urban settings and the gamut of human situations and emotions.
Mahesh Elkunchwar has received the Sahitya Akademi Award, one of India’s highest literary awards, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, which is India’s highest honour in relation to the performing arts. He was a professor of English Literature at Dharampeth Arts & Commerce College, and M. P. Deo Memorial Science College, both in Nagpur. He has been a guest professor of screenplay writing at the Film and Television Institute, Pune and has regularly taught as a visiting professor at the National School of Drama, New Delhi.
His plays have been translated and performed in multiple Indian languages, as well as in English, French and German, and Sonata, Holi and Party have been made into films by Aparna Sen, Ketan Mehta and Govind Nihalani respectively. His Wada trilogy, about several generations of a family negotiating the social and cultural shifts of the twentieth century and coming to terms with their changed status in modern day India, is regarded as a modern masterpiece, unique to playwriting in India. His collection of essays Maunraag is considered a similarly pioneering work.
On receiving news of the award, Mahesh Elkunchwar said, “I am extremely happy that the Lifetime achievement award is being conferred on me by the prestigious Tata Literature Festival. It was most unexpected. The idea of being in the company of Sir Naipaul and Mahashweta Devi is at once intimidating and humbling. It is also a very pleasant thought that writers who write in Indian languages are being recognised. I feel truly honoured”.
Director of the Festival, Amy Fernandes said, “Mahesh Elkunchwar’s path breaking writing has influenced and inspired generations of writers, playwrights and readers. A professor of English who writes in Marathi, his multi-ranging proficiency across languages and professions is truly unique. His work has reached millions through the medium of plays, essays, films and translations. And in particular, his voice has been one of the most impactful and progressive in Marathi theatre, and Indian theatre overall. We are very glad to have the opportunity to pay tribute to such an outstanding artiste through the Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Congratulating Mr Elkunchwar,Mr Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons said, “Mr Mahesh Elkunchwar is regarded as one of the best playwrights in Indian theatre today. His works, originally written in Marathi, have been translated and performed in multiple languages. It is an absolute delight and honour to present the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr Mahesh Elkunchwar, as an accolade for his notable contribution to not only Marathi theatre but literature as a whole.” Past recipients of the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award include Anita Desai, Ruskin Bond, Shanta Gokhale, Sir Mark Tully, Sir V S Naipaul, Amitava Ghosh, Mahashweta Devi.