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Among the humorists in Gujarat who wrote/write for newspapers and magazines, Tarak Mehta (1929-2017) stood out with the visual and narrative qualities of his writing. He developed an eye for observation as he grew up and lived in the middleclass social milieu. With the specs he chose to wear with the wrong side up he panned characters and situations brimming over with idiosyncrasies, foibles, sentiments and a zest for life shared by its members. He portrayed them in the idiom they understood and loved with surprising accuracy. With their specific local traits rubbed out in the process of writing, they attained universal character and through the visual medium appealed to viewers across regional boundaries.
There was a phase in his life earlier when he substantially contributed to theatre from time to time. Not many seem to recall today that INT’s fondly remembered plays Saptapadi and Mausam Chhalke , highly successful on box-office and evocative of lyrical moments of life, were written by him. There used to be creative collaboration between the director and the playwright in those days and Pravin-Sarita duo, who played the lead roles, must have also added to their liveliness. In fact, Tarakbhai had in him the bug of acting in his younger days that took him to Mumbai. He did act in Adi Marzban’s Parsi plays.
Ulta Chashma reminds one of Sai Paranjpe’s successful 1983 Hindi film Katha, set in a chawl in Mumbai, distinguished with strong characterization and narrative besides a bit sophisticated treatment of its theme. Tarak Mehta adapted Sai’s script Sakha Sahiyara with a touch of lightness and warmth in its dialogue buoyantly brought to life by Sarita Joshi under her direction in 1989. Earlier in 1987, the scintillating quality of his dialogue was seen in Gupchup Gupchup, in which Sarita directs herself in the role of a versatile temptress.
Tarak Mehta has written original one-acts as well as three-acts. He has authored scores of books. A zest for life showed up in all that he wrote. His popularity with the Ulta Chashma series, both in writing and on TV, eclipsed his bursts of talented dramatic writing earlier seen.
Tarak Mehta’s image in cover graphic sourced from : dailyworld.in
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