Pralhad Keshav Atre

(13 August 1898 – 13 June 1969 / Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra / India)

Biography of Pralhad Keshav Atre

Pralhad Keshav Atre poet

Prahlād Keshav Atre (Marathi: प्रल्हाद केशव अत्रे), popularly known as Āchārya Atre (Marathi: आचार्य अत्रे), was a multi-faceted Indian figure. He was a prominent Marathi writer, a poet, an educationist, a newspaper founder–editor of Maratha (a Marathi language daily whose head office and press was located at Coca-Cola gulley in Worli, Mumbai), a political leader, a movie producer–director–script writer and above all, a noted orator.

His Marathi film, Shyamchi Aai (श्यामची आई) won the 1954 National Film Award for Best Feature Film.

Early Life

Atre was born in the town of Saswad, near Pune, in Maharashtra, India.

Education

Atre got his BA and BT degrees from the University of Bombay and later Teacher's Diploma (TD) from the University of London. He was ranked first in the BT examination.Also his general work was praised as being of high quality by his British Professors at the London Day Training College of London University.

Career

His teaching career spanned 20-years, at the height of which, he ran a high school as its principal. He compiled a series of Marathi language textbooks for elementary and secondary schools, which were widely used in in Maharashtra State for several years.
In his autobiography Atre has devoted one full chapter to Cambridge educated mathematician Wrangler R.P.Paranjpe whose personality made a tremendous impact on him when he was studying for his BA degree at Ferguson College in Pune where R.P. Paranjpe was principal. He has also acknowledged the influence Professor Sir Percy Nunn (Principal of London Day Training College) and P.B. Ballard ( A senior inspector in the education department of London County Council)had on his work in the field of education and also that of H.R.Hamley (Principal of the Secondary Training College, Bombay). He has also stated that his style of oratory was greatly influenced by Prof. Ballard whose lectures he attended in London. The other professors at London Day Training College whose influence on him Atre acknowledges in his autobiography are Messrs Cyril Burt ( An educational psychologist), James Fairgrieve ( A geographer and educator ) and John Dover Wilson ( professor and scholar of Renaissance drama).

Atre's contributions to Marathi literature have been listed under Important works below. He was an outstanding humorist, and his writing style — whether he wrote humorous or serious material — was highly effective. He introduced parodistic poetry to Marathi language under the pseudonym Keshav Kumār. His book, Jhenduchi Phule, is a collection of his parodistic poems.

Atre wrote seven plays; some of them had a humorous theme while others, a serious one. All of them received high public acclaim. His comedy-play, Moruchi Mavshi was later adapted into Hindi film, Aunty No. 1 (1998), starring Govinda and Raveena Tandon.
Atre's two autobiographical works, Mi Kasā Jhālo and Karheche Pāni, similarly received much public acclaim. Atre was the founder–editor of four Marathi newspapers. Two of them had a short life. But the other two, Maratha and (Weekly) Navayug, ran for many years with a large circulation.

Atre also became known for his public feud with another well known Marathi author of his times Prof. N.S.Phadke. Several years later however there was a public reconciliation between these two in the city of Pune.

Atre had studied Urdu language in depth. He while writing under the pseudonym Maulana Allauddin Khilji, ridiculed the predilection of the Marathi poets of those times of using not easily understood Sanskrit words and using bigger than life comparisons.(He wrote a poem, Shyamale, under this whimsical pen name Maulānā Allāuddin Khilji).
Known for his straight forward views in his writing he was called 'Writer & Fighter Of Maharashtra' by Former Indian President Dr.K.R.Narayanan.

Atre was one of the defendants in the then well known "People's Own" litigation but was acquitted as being innocent by Mr. Justice Broomfield of Bombay High Court.( He had earlier been convicted by a lower court judge by name Gundil in Pune)
Atre's worthy contributions in the Marathi movie world have been listed below. His movie Shyamchi Aai (1953) received an award as the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in 1953, while his movie Mahatma Phule (1955) received the President's Silver Medal.

Atre was an important political leader of his times in Maharashtra, and he worked vigorously in the Sanyukta Mahārāshtra Āndolan (Unified Maharashra Movement) during 1956-60. As recently as December 2011 at a function presided over by a noted Marathi literary figure D. M. Mirasdar and attended by Shiv Sena leader Uddhava Thakare & his daughters Mrs.Shirish Pai & Mrs. Deshpande a DVD of his speeches related to this movement was released. He possessed extraordinary oratory skills, humor being a captivating feature of his speeches.

Atre was one of the few members of the Brahmin community in his times who supported since early days the efforts of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar to uplift the social status of the Harijan community and remove that community's curse of "untouchability".

Personal

Atre was married twice. After his first wife Kashibai died of TB in less than a fortnight after his return from England in October 1928, he married again ( the former Ms. Godavari Munge who herself was a qualified teacher and worked in a leading Pune Girls' School) and had two daughters by this marriage. One daughter Shirish Atre- Pai,who introduced Japanese Poetry haiku in the Marathi literature was born in November 1929 & went on to become an author and social worker of some note in her own right. After the death of Atre, she was the editor of newspaper Maratha but was unable to maintain its popularity and the newspaper had to close down a few years later.

It was also alleged that he had an affair with Vanmala who was the leading lady in his movie Shyamchi Aai.

His wife later wrote movingly about the trauma that it caused her and also about the various property disputes that erupted after Atre's death and her inability to cope with them.

In Politics

Member of Local Municipal Board of Pune during 1936-1938.
Member of Sanyukta Maharashtra Samiti during 1956-60.
Member of Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha from Dadar constituency (18) 1962-1967
However his ambition of becoming a member of the Indian Parliament could not be fulfilled as he lost these elections.

Pralhad Keshav Atre's Works:

Plays
Sāshtāng Namaskār (1935)
Gharābāher (1934)
Bhramāchā Bhopalā (1935)
Udyāchā Sansār (1936)
Lagnāchi Bedi (1936)
Moruchi Māwashi (1947) a marathi comedy play
To Mi Navhech (1962)

Novels, Biographies, and Essays
Chāngunā (1954)
Battāshi Wa Itar Kathā (1954)
Mahātmā Jyotibā Phule (1958)
Suryāsta (1964) (On the life of Jawaharlal Nehru)
Samādhiwaril Ashru (1956)
Kelyāne Deshātan (1961)
Atre Uwāch (1937)
Lalit Wāngmaya (1944)
Hashā Āni Tālyā (1958)

Poetry
Jhenduchi Phule (1925)

Autobiographical Works
Karheche Pāni (5 volumes)(1963, '64, '65, '67, and '68)
Mi Kasā Jhālo (1953)

Movies
Bramhachāri
Shyāmchi Aai
Premveer (Script writer)
Dharmveer (Script writer)
Brandichi Bātali (Script writer)
Paayaachi Daasi (Hindi: Charanon Ki Daasi). Producer.
Mahātmā Phule

Journalism
Founder/Editor of (weekly) Sāptāhik Navyug (1940–1962) and Tukārām (1954)
Evening newspaper Jai Hind (1948)
Daily Marāthā (1956 - Till the end)

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