(Last Updated on : 29/01/2009)
'Mama' Bhargavram Vitthal Warerkar was a prominent Marathi writer and translator. He was born in Chiplun, Ratnagiri district in 1883. He was a school dropout and joined the postal service. Vitthal Warerkar eventually produced an output of nearly fifty plays, thirty novels, five volumes of short stories, and essays and translations. He regularly contributed to various periodicals. His playwriting career spans over three generations, from 1908 to I960, directly reflecting the political, social, and cultural issues of the day. He was the first modernist in Marathi drama, stated that his themes came from external circumstances rather than inner feelings. Even his myth-based plays had a distinct contemporary relevance and importance.
Hach mulacha bap i.e. 'He's the Bridegroom's Father' in 1918, a social drama on the dowry problem, was staged during the heyday of the romantic Sangitnatak. Sanyashyacha sansar i.e. 'Sanyasi's Life' in 1919 brought naturalness to costumes. Turungachya darat i.e. 'At the Prison Door' in 1923 was the first one-act-one-setting play, with a running time of just three hours. Satteche gulam i.e. 'Slaves of Power' in 1927 ushered in the box set. Sonyacha kalas i.e. 'Golden Spire' in 1932 saw the focus shift for the first time from the middle to the lower-middle class. Udti pakhare i.e. 'Flying Birds' in 1941 and Saraswat i.e. 'Devotee of Learning' in 1942 were introspective and tender, highly regarded even by the later avant-garde for their experimentation. Jivashivachi bhet i.e. 'Union of Creator and Created' in 1950 was one of the first Marathi plays with a completely rural backdrop, Bhumikanya Sita i.e. 'Earth's Daughter Sita' in 1958 interpreted the original myth through a 'tiller of the land' and feminist angle. Singapumtun i.e. 'From Singapore' in 1944 and Apurva Bangal i.e. 'Uncommon Bengal' in 1953 had a fervently political background, Dwarkecha Raja i.e. 'Dwarka's Raja' in 1952 dealt with international post-War philosophy.
Warerkar's variety and prolificacy is evident from the above list. Some other characteristics should also be mentioned such as keen social consciousness, realism in theme and sets, simplicity of dialogue, and empathy for the exploited and downtrodden. These are the salient characteristics of his writings. Initially he stood out owing to his avoidance of the prevalent decorative language and heroic, romantic characters. However, in the latter part of his career, he chose to stay away from the new theatre i.e. navanatya movement. He also directed some of his plays and a few films, notably the pioneering historical silent movie Poona Raided in 1924. His four-volume theatre memoirs, Majha nataki sansar i.e. 'My Dramatic Life' during 1995-7 came out posthumously. Bhargavram Vitthal Warerkar died in 1964.