Noted Bengali author Mahasweta Devi passed away at a hospital in Kolkata on Thursday. Her grandson Tathagata Bhattacharya announced on Twitter that she had breathed her last at 3:16 p.m. She was 90.
She had sustained a heart attack on July 23, and had since been under treatment at the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata. She is said to have died of multiple organ failure.
Also an acclaimed social activist, she had been conferred with many prestigious honours, like the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Padma Vibhushan, Jnanpith and the Magsaysay Award. Throughout her life, this alumnus of the Rabindranath Tagore-established Visvabharati University in Shantiniketan had also worked as a teacher — at the Bijoygarh College — and a journalist.
Niece of acclaimed filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, who was her father's brother, Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in Dhaka, which is the capital of Bangladesh. On her mother's side, she had for an uncle noted sculptor Sankha Chaudhury.
From 1956 to as late as the turn of the century, Mahasweta Devi churned out a great number of acclaimed gems of literature, some of which were turned into equally acclaimed films. Probably the best-known of these was "Rudaali" (1993), for which Dimple Kapadia won the National Award for her portrayal of the lead character.
Another equally noted film was "Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa" (1998), based on Mahasweta Devi's 1974 Bengali novel "Hajar Churashir Ma," which depicts the Naxal uprising and its effects on a seemingly unaffected Bengali family in Kolkata. It won the National Award for Best Film in Hindi.