Indian playwright and cultural critic

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Vijay Tendulkar, 80, one of India’s most influential playwrights and the author of critically acclaimed films, died of myasthenia gravis May 19 at his home in Pune, India.

A fearless cultural critic for much of his life, Tendulkar’s works were filled with social themes such as women’s rights, poverty, capital punishment and the cost of corruption.

He achieved worldwide notice writing in Marathi, the language of his home state of Maharashtra, in west central India. Most of his writings were translated into Hindi and English for broader audiences.

His reputation was established in 1956 with the controversial play “Shrimant,” about an unmarried woman who decides to raise her unborn child against the wishes of her father, who tries to buy her a husband to save his social standing.


Tendulkar also wrote scripts for some of the great directors of Hindi cinema, including “Nishaant” and “Manthan” for Shyam Benegal.

But his work often was criticized and, sometimes, banned. One play about male-female relationships in South Asia was banned by the Indian government. He also was physically attacked with a bamboo rod by an angry theatergoer.