Vijay Tendulkar-A Great Writer, A Miserable Family Life
Ali Peter John
I have always challenged people to interpret my dreams and I am sure no one, no psychiatrist or any other mind reader in the world can even try to.
Like I saw this long dream last night. I saw one of my best gurus, the great writer and playwright Padma Bhushan Vijay Tendulkar inviting me to his house at “Badridham” in Vile Parle East where I had spent several days, evenings and nights having the time of my life talking to Tendulkar and his entire family. Tendulkar who was the only man I had asked for his autograph while I was in college (the only other man was Mohammad Rafi) had died ten years ago, then how and why did he have to appear in my dream.
I reached “Badridham” and was surprised or rather shocked to see him dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He was alone at home and told me that he wanted to meet me when there was no one from his family around as he wanted to tell me the ultimate secret of his life.
I looked around and saw the once beautiful apartment of the Tendulkars all in shambles. He made two large pegs of Old Monk rum and asked me to make myself comfortable and then started talking in a voice I had never heard in all the years I knew him like a son would know his father, but it was what he said that shook me up. The once very mild but very angry Tendulkar told me that he had exactly two years to live and he was going to make the best of the time gifted to him. The playwright who had written plays like “Ghashiram Kotwal”, “Kamla” and “Shantata Court Chalu Aahe” and films like “Ardha Satya” , “Aakrosh” and other films made by Shyam Benagal and Govind Nihalani was telling me with a twinkle in both his eyes that he was working on a play which would be a sex based comedy. He told me that he was in love with a young woman who was taking care of him while he sat in his room and kept writing as he had no time as he knew that he was surely going to die at 3.30 pm on January 13, 2020. He wanted to say all that he couldn’t say all his life about sex, he said.
He also told me that he had taken to drinking which he never did when he was with me or his family and friends. He asked me, ” I tried to live a decent and dignified life, but what did I get in return? Only pain, tragedy and misery? I am now going to make up for all that I lost during the coming two years. I hope you will find time to come and have a few drinks with me.” He also said that he was aghast at the kind of plays and films that were being made these days and promised me that his final play would wake up the whole world. He finished his last drink and then told me that he had to go and meet his girlfriend who lived in the Sher-E-Punjab society behind the Holy Spirit Hospital and I tried to hold his hand as he was quite drunk but he said there was no need to offer him any support as he had enough strength to last the next two years.
This dream gave me nightmares and I made my way to “Badridham” only to find that there was no Tendulkar, nor his family and Badridham itself was about to crumble and people living there had to be evacuated.
What kind of a dream is this? Can anyone give me an explaination or find answers to my question born out of one of my most eerie dreams or are they nightmares?
THE REAL TENDULKAR
He was born in a lower middle-class family and his first job was in a post office. He joined the Marathi daily, Loksatta and with the power of his pen he rose to be the leading playwright of India and from a chawl he shifted to a three bedroom apartment. His family consisted of his wife, three daughters and an only son.
I first met him when I was in college but that was hardly a meeting. The second time I met him was when his daughter Priya who had grown into an icon with the Tv serial “Rajni” invited me home and then our meetings became normal affairs almost every second day.
And then it seemed as if life was jealous about the family and its success. Raju Tendulkar who was a talented cinematographer died of cirrhosis of the liver when he was only twenty-eight. He had a beautiful wife, Seema and a little son. The next to be claimed by death was Tendulkar’s very loving and innocent wife, a woman who could fire people like Rajiv Gandhi and Amitabh Bachchan in the way any other mother would. Tragedy was hunting the Tendulkars with devilish speed and the next to go was the star of the family, Priya (Rajni) who died of cancer when she was only thirty-two. Tendulkar was alive while death kept striking one blow after another. Sushma, a brilliant actress had turned an alcoholic because of her failed love affair with the actor Sadashiv Amrapurkar and finally died at the Kripa Foundation formed by Fr. Joe Pereiera for drug addicts and alcoholics. Fr. Pereiera tried his very best to reform her but failed and she died on the streets and the good Father gave her a Hindu funeral.
Tendulkar was a broken man by now and lived with a friend. The only daughter who survived was Tanuja who fell in love with a leading lawyer, Rajiv Mohite who was appointed a judge but who became the reason for a life of misery for Tanuja and her daughter.
Tendulkar was a witness to too many tragedies any human being could take. He lived a lonely life with his friend till he suffered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s which claimed his life and the Tendulkar family came crashing down.
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