I have always liked G.A. Kulkarni’s work, since the time I read his stories in high school. They had an aura of mysticism and rich visual imagery. I hope the late author wont mind, as I write and discuss his work in English here. For one thing, his stories were timeless and used the language( Marathi) merely as a tool of expression without any cultural baggage. Of all Marathi literature, his work is the most translatable work, that will in fact may come out more vividly if translated.
I realized this when I read `Pangira’ recently, a realistic novel by Vishwas Patil, that chronicles the progression of a small village in western Maharashtra. Now this incredible book is the most untranslatable book. It will be completely disseminated in translation, and will probably will not attract many readers after 30 years, just like how Batatyachi Chal ( also untranslatable), after 25 years will fail to delight children born today. I think these books are so beautiful because they are truly time-sculptures.They capture and immortalize that time, that age, those people and that culture.
But Kulkarni’s work is timeless. For most of the stories, the backdrop could be any place and any time. The characters could be of any race, any nationality. In fact some time it feels as if it is happening in some twilight zone in author’s mind, where he alone is present as the lead character or observer, and everything else, including other characters are the props.
Recently I opened Sanjshakun- a collection of G.A.Kulkarni’s short stories. I think these are one of his earlier works. The first story was written before I was born. It is hardly a story, it is narration of a scene from a vantage point. It is poignant. An uninhabited stretch of sea-shore under scorching sun, a carcass of large animal baking on the shore and stripped off its flesh. The large skull provides a brief respite and shelter for an ancient man. The heat cracks the skull, takes the old man. His skull has the same fate as that of the large animal and serves the same purpose for a smaller animal and so on..
As as I read the story, I felt like staring at Salvador Dali’s painting. The whole story can be really one picture. Just as (some of Dali’s paintings) tell the past of that scene and are pregnant with future. So I could almost visualize Dali’sk painting of Kulkarni’s story. I wonder if any one of my friends who are a fan of both the masters, will take up challenge of painting the story or storying the picture!
On the other hand, both are equally incomprehensible. So some of my worldly-wise friends can turn to me after reading/seeing the work of either men and will say ` So.. whats the point?’ I would be lying if i have not asked this to myself sometimes. But i think art is more like a secret code between the artist and the beholder. If you `get it’, the feeling is like getting the glimpse of the artists mind- his private chamber. If you don’t get it, probably it was not for you!