Archives of Contemporary India

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Anil Dharker Papers

Anil Dharker Papers

From the start, we decided that we would look at literature in a way that complemented the spirit of Mumbai: lively, energetic, cosmopolitan literature that was truly alive. So while all the four verticals– fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays –would be represented, we would try to find ways of making them appeal to the academic and the lay reader, the bookworm and the occasional browser, the serious writer and the one who dreamt of being a writer.

Distinguished writer, editor and columnist, Anil Dharker (b.1947-d.2021) was the founder-director of the Mumbai International Literary Festival and Literature Live!

After completing a degree in mathematics in India, he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of London and joined the academic staff of the University of Glasgow, London but soon after returned to India.

In Mumbai, he became a senior consultant to Pheroze Kandianavala & Associates, one of the country’s leading architectural firms. He pioneered the concept and practice of fire safety in multi-storied buildings, such as the use of smoke detectors, sprinklers, and positive air pressure which are now prescribed by law for new buildings.

A multifaceted personality, Dharker donned many hats - an accomplished architect, a prolific writer, art, film and TV critic. He was a keen observer of Indian cinema and wrote extensive articles on cinema. He was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Film Censor Board by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and later headed the National Film Development Corporation (then called the Film Finance Corporation).  He was one of the foremost promoters of the New Wave Cinema movement in Indian cinema (also known as the Parallel Cinema). During this period, several filmmakers of the New Wave Cinema like Govind Nihalani, Saeed Mirza and Ketan Mehta made their first films. Dharker’s most significant contribution to NFDC was to enable it to co-produce Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi, the multiple Oscar winner. Dharker was also responsible for opening the Akashwani Auditorium in South Bombay as an art movie theatre. Dharker served on the selection committees for India’s International Film Festivals and also represented NFDC in overseas film festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Chicago and London. He was a member of the Advisory Boards of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Doordarshan, and the Children’s Film Society of India.

Dharker also worked as a TV show producer and anchor and head of a news television channel (India TV) for some time. He conducted hundreds of interviews with prime ministers, governors, Nobel laureates, film directors and actors and several others for Doordarshan.

In 2010, Dharker founded the Mumbai International Literary Festival. This takes place in November at the National Centre for Performing Arts in South Mumbai and simultaneously at Prithvi Theatre in North Mumbai.

Anil Dharker was editor of a variety of publications, starting with Debonair (a monthly magazine), Mid-Day and Sunday Mid-Day (evening papers), the Independent, a morning broad-sheet from the Times of India group and the Illustrated Weekly of India. He also wrote columns for numerous English dailies, including the Times of India, Economic TimesHinduAsian Age and DNA. His work has also featured in foreign publications such as the Independent (London), Scotsman, Khaleej Times and Gulf News.

His publications include Sorry, Not Ready: Television in the Time of PM Darshan (Harper Collins, 1997), The Romance of Salt (Roli Books, 2005), Icons: Men and Women Who Shaped Today’s India (ed.), (Roli Books, 2011), Man Who Talked to Machines: The Story of Om Prakash Jindal (Eminence Designs, 2005) and The Possible Dream: The Story of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (Rupa, 2011).

About the Collection: The collection consists of Anil Dharker’s columns, ‘Tube Watch’ in the Sunday Times of India, 1994, 1999-2002, ‘Sunday Review’ in the Sunday Times, 1994, 1997, and ‘Out of my Mind’ in Mid-Day, 1989-1990. There are also some brochures of Mumbai International Literary Festival.

Donor: Rani Dharker
Acquisition: 2023