Saturday, July 25, 2015

Manohar Malgonkar: Army Colonel to Famous Novelist

One of the gifts of the Raj is the English Language . Many indians have picked up this language and mastered it to perfection.Thus we have Mulkraj Anand, Kushwant Singh, RK Narayan and Salman Rushdie- all Indians who have made for themselves a name, as writers of English fiction. However there is one writer Manohar Malgonkar, who is my favourite.
Malgonkar spent a fair amount of time in the Army during the Second World War. He left the Army at the end of the war as a lieutenant Colonel. But this stint in the Army, was to serve him in good stead as he used the Army background for a lot many of his novels. Thus Colonel Malgonkar wrote some of the finest epitaphs on the British Indian army. Two of his books 'Bandicoot run' and "Distant drums' , Malgonkar's acknowledgement and debt to the British Indian army which he served stand out.

Malgonkar also wrote a lot many other books like the famous ' Bend in the ganges' and the well researched non-fiction'The men who killed Gandhi'.  The last named was after a lot of research. Malgonkar compares very favourably with his contemporaries. But some fault him for being a little apologetic about the Raj. There is no doubt that the Raj featured prominently in his writings.
Malgonkar was born into a royal family, and educated at Bombay university. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Maratha Light Infantry,   The socio-historical milieu of those times form the backdrop of his novels, which are usually of action and adventure. He also wrote non-fiction, including biography and history.
Malgonkar lived in a remote bungalow, at some distance from the town of uttar kannada joida taloq Karnataka. His only child Sunita, who was educated at the famous Lawrence School Lawrence S, Sanawar, died in 1998.
Colonel Malgonkar is no more, but he has left behind a wealth of books to taste, savor and digest. He was certainly a master story teller, who kept the reader engrossed. It is a pity that the Indian Government has not honoured this man, who was certainly the best English writer of his generation.