About Ayi Tendulkar

We can guess that one of the most satisfying relationships in Thea von Harbou's life was her alliance with the Indian national, Ganpat (Ayi) Tendulkar, whom she met while still married to Lang. By 1933, when it was evident that the National Socialist would be reforming almost every aspect of German life, Fritz Lang, whose mother was Jewish, decided it was prudent to leave, and made his way to Hollywood, via London and Paris. Thea, however, had divorced him (she said that while she was married to Lang for 10 years, it took her 9 years to divorce him as she didn't have the time), and fell in with Tendulkar, fascinated with Indian culture, and feeling she could help the plight of Indians, who looked to Germany as having no colonial interest in their country. She apparently could not marry him because of race laws in Germany (although one could argue that Indians were Aryans before the Germans!), yet the were united in a ceremony that was essentially a wedding bond.

While working for the studios in Germany, she began to take Indian families under her wing, helping those who were stranded in the country, unable to return, since the government there, of course, was still under British rule.  In 1939, Ayi Tendulkar returned to India on business, and was put into prison. We do not know the extent of their relationship, but Ayi (who had been married before meeting Thea), separated from her and married again in India. According to Ayi's daughter, Thea was always known as a loving friend, but she was also "quite controversial for having joined the Nazi party, although she claimed she had done so only to defend her Indian friends in Berlin. 

"My father often spoke of Thea von Harbou with great affection. I remember these conversations vividly. Meeting her in Berlin in 1933 had been a watershed in his life. I was very curious about how they had met – their backgrounds were so different, what could have brought them together? Thea von Harbou was a renowned writer and had successfully published numerous books and screenplays and had worked for most of the well known German film directors. What could they have had in common? My father told me the political situation in Germany at the time contributed a great deal to bringing them together. He was at Berlin University, working on his PhD. He had been a journalist with a couple of German newspapers such as Tageblatt and Weltbühne. When the Fascists took over, he had to give this up and he focused then on his research. Meanwhile, Thea was just coming out of a long, turbulent and embittered relationship with her then husband, the film maker Fritz Lang."