(Last Updated on : 28-01-2009)
Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar was born in the year 1872. He was a prominent playwright, journalist, and political thinker. He was popularly known as the architect of modern Marathi theatre
. Born at Sangli, where he attended school, he went to Pune for higher education at Fergusson and, later, Deccan College, graduating in philosophy in 1892. He worked as a teacher for two years, after which he studied law in Bombay. Inspired by Bal Gangadhar Tilak's radical nationalist politics, he joined Tilak's newspaper Kesri in 1897. Khadilkar's career as a dramatist began with Kanchangadchi Mohana i.e. 'Mohana of Kanchangad' in 1904, but the historical Sawai Madhavmowancha mrityu i.e. 'Sawai Madhavrao's Death' in 1906 established him as a major playwright. His plays took the form of political allegories. Kichakavadh i.e. 'Killing of Kichaka' in 1907, based on the mythological tale of Draupadi, Bhima, and Kichaka, commented caustically on Lord Curzon's oppressive rule. It was banned till 1916 describing it as seditious. The Maharashtra Natak Mandali and Shahunagarwasi Natak Mandali produced these prose dramas.
Khadilkar went on to write several Sangitnatak, staged first by the Kirloskar and then Gandharva Natak Mandalis. Some of the other names can be mentioned as Bayakanche banda i.e. 'Women's Rebellion' in 1907, Bhaubandaki i.e. 'Filial Feud' in 1909, Premadhwaj i.e. 'Flag of Love' in 1911, Manapaman i.e. 'Honour and Dishonour' in 1911, Vidyaharan i.e. 'Knowledge Abducted' in 1913, Sativapariksha i.e. 'Test of Merit' in 1914, Swayamvar i.e. 'Choice of Groom' in 1916, Dmupadi in 1920, Tridandi sanyas i.e. 'Sanyasi with Three Staffs' in 1923, Menaka in 1926, Sawati tnatsar i.e. 'Jealousy of the Other Wife' in 1927, Savitri in 1933, etc. In most of them he tried to interpret the socio-political ethos through historical or mythological tales, though his social conservatism compromised his political radicalism. However, the flowing language, his lyrics set to melodious music, and Bal Gandharva's presentation of the female roles contributed to their great popularity.
Khadilkar was also a fiery journalist. He edited the Kesri hom 1908 to 1910, and 1918 onwards. After Tilak's death, he became a follower of Gandhi. He edited the daily Lokmanya in 1921 and began a new one, Navakal. In 1923 he was fined for an article on Hindu-Muslim riots in 1927, charged with sedition, and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. After 1933, he involved himself in spiritual work and published extensively on the Upanishads. Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar died in 1948 at the age of 76.