, ChandigarhNirupama Dutt
Writers and theatre activists on Friday lost a father figure in the passing away of Virender Mendiratta, who contributed to build the literary and theatrical profile of Chandigarh since the early 1950s .
After completing his higher education in Allahabad, he moved to the city to take up the job of a lecturer of Hindi Literature in the lone government college for girls and boys that was then housed in the Sector-23 government school.
He introduced his students to theatre and was among the first to stage plays in the college auditorium. A writer of short fiction in Hindi, many of Mendiratta’s stories were based on the times when the city was being built by Le Corbusier and his team of architects.
He took care to include stories of labourers and rickshaw pullers who were slogging to build the city of independent India’s dreams. He had several collections of short stories to his credit besides academic writing.
Always a mentor to budding writers, he established a literary group called Abhivyakti in 1974 and he, along with his wife, Kanta, also a professor of Hindi, hosted a monthly meeting for writers to read works for discussion and appraisal till the pre-Covid times. The group continues in his memory with younger writers like Vijay Kapoor continuing the tradition.
He was part of the theatre group, Abhinet, which he founded with late NC Thakur. Mendiratta directed many plays in Hindi, including a memorable production of Mohan Rakesh’s “Ashadd ka Ek Din”.
Mendiratta is survived by his wife and children Aloka, Aprajita and Anurag. His last rites will be held at the Section 25 cremation ground at 4 pm on Saturday.