Veteran journalist Arun Sadhu.
Veteran journalist Arun Sadhu.

Arun Sadhu, political novelist and journalist, dies in Mumbai

Arun Sadhu, the Marathi author and journalist who was known for his political novels and commentaries on world affairs, died in Mumbai

Mumbai: In his political novel Mumbai Dinaank (Dateline Mumbai), Marathi author and journalist Arun Sadhu, who died on Monday at the age of 76, draws a fine and telling portrait of a fictional chief minister of Maharashtra, Jivajirao Shinde. Having come up the hard way, Shinde is understatedly but brutally ambitious, and he keeps a file on each of his friends and foes.

The novel was first published in 1972, only 12 years after formation of the state of Maharashtra. Yet Sadhu perspicaciously portrayed the character of the chief minister of an affluent state like Maharashtra. Later, real-life CMs fit the template. Sadhu’s novel, along with its more famous sibling Sinhasan (The Throne) formed the basis of a stirring 1979 political movie by the same name, directed by Jabbar Patel.

The movie, for which playwright Vijay Tendulkar wrote the screenplay and dialogues, remains one of the best cinematic explorations of the Machiavellian world of politics and the nexus between politicians, land mafia, slum lords, trade unions and industry in Maharashtra—a nexus that still has its hands on the levers of power.

Though his novels held the mirror to the socio-political dynamics of Maharashtra, Sadhu never confined himself to Maharashtrian politics alone. He studied and wrote extensively about global Communism, Communist revolutions and revolutionaries, the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of China.

Sadhu belonged to the dying ilk of socio-political novelists in India who subjected politics to the ruthless and irreverent scrutiny of a political reporter. He also belonged to the even rarer tribe of bilingual writers who are equally prolific and expressive in Marathi and English.

His 12 books included political novels and commentaries on world affairs. His book on China looked critically at the Cultural Revolution and the growth of capitalism in Communist China. His books on Communist revolutions and the main actors of these revolutions, as well his account of the fall of the USSR and the Berlin wall, were instrumental in establishing a genre of Marathi writings on international affairs.

“Among others like the late Govindrao Talwalkar, Sadhu sir introduced Marathi journalists to the wide world of international politics and developments. He introduced Maharashtra to the distant lands of Cuba, Russia, Germany, and China," said a journalist who worked with Sadhu at Marathi newspaper Loksatta and who did not want to give his name.

A political reporter, Sadhu started his journalistic career at Marathi daily ‘Kesri’ in Pune in the 1960s. In his three-decade- long journalistic career, he worked for the Statesman, the Times of India, the Indian Express and the Free Press Journal in Mumbai.

Sadhu was also associated with progressive and liberal thought movements and lent his stature to help spread the culture of reading in Maharashtra through a movement named ‘Granthali’.

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