indian cinema heritage foundation

Shanta Shelke

  • Born: 12 October 1922 (Indapur)
  • Died: 6 June 2002 (Pune)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi

Poet, lyricist, and writer Shanta Shelke made a considerable contribution to Marathi literature via poems, stories, novels, character sketches, interviews, and critiques. She also penned songs for several films, which helped make her a household name. She made her debut as a lyricist with the film Ram Ram Pavna (1950), which instantly won favour with audiences. She penned songs such as the laavni Reshmachya reghanni rendered by Asha Bhosle, Je ved majala lagale, and Pavner ga mayela karoo. Other memorable songs that she wrote lyrics for are Kaanta rute kunala, Kalyanche divas phulanchya raati, Aaj avelich kashi saanj zhaali, Mala vatate ga nava janma gheu, and Sampale swapna te shodhisi ka punha. Her songs were rendered by renowned singers including Lata Mangeshkar, and Kishori Amonkar. Music composer Kaushal Inamdar composed an album of her songs titled Shubhra Kalya Moothbhar, which featured various singers such as Sadhana Sargam, Rishikesh Kamerkar, and others. Shelke was awarded the Soor Singaar award for her song Mage ubha mangesh and an award from the Government of India for her lyrics for the film Bhujang (1982). 

She was born in Indapur, Pune, and went on to be schooled in primary education at Mahatma Gandhi Vidyalaya, Rajgurunagar followed by high school at Huzurpaga (HHCP High School), Pune. Graduating from Pune's S P College, she completed her MA in Marathi and Sanskrit and stood first in Bombay University. She also won the Na. Chi. Kelkar and Chiplunkar awards during this time. 

Shelke spent five years working as assistant editor of the weekly Navyug run by Acharya Atre. Moving to Nagpur to work as a professor of Marathi in Hislop College, Nagpur, she served for many years at Maharshi Dayanand College, Parel, Mumbai, post which she settled in Pune. While working in Mumbai, she also served in the Film Censor board, the Theatre examination board, and the Government book award.

A noted journalist and academic, her work included song compositions, stories, translations, and children's literature. She also presided over several literary gatherings. Some of her compositions became distinguished as either stand-alone poetic works or as songs.

Contributing to Marathi literature in the form of poems, stories, novels, character sketches, interviews, critiques, and introductions, she also wrote for newspaper columns, some of which were later compiled into books. Some of her newspaper columns include Ek Pani, Madarangi, and Janta Ajanata. Her novels include Odh, Dharma, Punarjanma, Chikkhaldrayancha Mantrik, Nararakshas, Bhishanchaya, Majha Khel Mandu De, and Vijhti Jyot. She also translated into Marathi the following works: Japanese haiku to produce Panyavarchya Paklya, poet Kalidasa’s Sanskrit work Meghdoot, a novel by Virendra Bhattachrya, and the popular work Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Children’s literature was her favourite subject; however, she gained popularity as a poet and music composer. Some of her works include Rupasi, Janmajanhavi, Kalyanche divas fulanchya rati, Toch Chandrama, Purvasandhya, and Ityartha. Her Marathi songs found favour widely, making her a household name. Some of her memorable creations include Reshmachya reghanni, Je ved majala lagale, Pavner ga mayela karoo, Kaanta rute kunala, Gharaparatichya vaatevarati, Shubhra kalya moothbhar, Ranparya, Kahi bolalis ka, Disato tula ka sajani, Vilaya jag he jaail saare, and Deenanatha dayasagara

Awarded for her work, Shelke was honoured with the Soor Singaar award for her song Mage ubha Mangesh, the Government of India award of excellence for song-writing for Bhujang, the Ga Di Madgulkar award, and the Yashvantrao Chawan Pratishan Award for her contribution to Marathi literature. 

Shanta Shelke passed away on 6 June, 2002. She was 79.