Monday, January 21, 2013

V R Narla`s Last Telugu play NARAKAM LO HARISCHANDRA

As a literary person Narla achieved national fame.V R Narla published three
As usual there was 53 pages introduction which traced the mythological
Harischandra in Ramayana, Bharata, Puranas.There are many variations and
contradictions in Harischandra.
In Telugu literature Harischandra is popular in dramas, poetry, stories.
Viswanatha published PEDA HARISCHANDRA.
Narla discussed various aspects of the mythological character.
IN the three act play, Harischandra was indicted in Yama`s court.
Chitragupta narrated the lies and false pretensions of the great
king.Harischandra was prepared to sacrifice his wife though he knew that she
was innocent.
the great King suffered his son.
Harischandra pretty well knew that he need not pay travel allowance to
Yama concluded that Harishchandra was after fame and name. Finally
Harischandra got 12 years punishment in  hell .
In the third act Harischandra got up from deep sleep, realizes that he was
misled by Viswamitra and Vasista.
While discussing the art of lies, Narla V R pointed out how the puranas are
full of lies.Sukracharya says in Bhagavatha that one can lie on several
occasions ( towards ladies,and money etc)
Narla says that according Ithareya Brahmana, Harischandra cursed one of sons
to be DASYA and eat dog meat. Some Andhras mention Ithareya Brahmana proudly!
Narla says that this point was avoided by Viswanatha in Peda Harischandra.
Narla also criticised the pornographic literature and excessive sex in
Puranas which is continuing in the present day literature too in the name of
As an example he cited VENKATESWARA SUPRABHATAM which has some  pornographic verses
and yet some people recite it with devotion(may be without knowing the
meaning since it is in Sanskrit)
The point Narla making is that duplicity and hypocracy are everywhere in our
ancient literature which must be abhored.

Dharmavaram Sitaram get Narla award-2012

Veteran journalist Dharmavarapu Sitaram was presented the V R Narla lifetime achievement award on Tuesday.
The award consisting of a citation and a cheque for Rs 3 lakh was presented to him at his residence by the Minister for Information and Public Relations, D K Aruna. This rare gesture was shown by the I&PR department as the veteran journalist was not keeping good health. The Commissioner I&PR R V Chandravadan, senior journalist Potturi Venkateswara Rao also accompanied her

Kurma Venu gopalaswamy on V R Narla



In any community the editor of a daily newspaper is always a person of great importance. But editors are of different kinds–some become editors by acquiring financial control of the journal, others obtain the office by inheritance or marriage. Such men are not content with calling themselves mere editors. They are invariably Managing Editors, after the style familiarised by the great Northcliffe. But editors, other than Managing Editors, are almost invariably journalists who have worked their way up, often from the lowest rung in the ladder.

Perhaps it is somewhat curious that Narla should be the editor of a Telugu journal, since he was born in Jabalpur, on the banks of the Narmada, brought up in Saugar till his seventh year in the long and deep shadows of the Vindhyas' as he likes to put it, and knew no Telugu whatsoever in the earliest years of his life. It was only the complete loss of all the family fortune that brought his parents back to their native village Kauthavaram in the Krishna District. He moved rapidly through a formal education at a private middle school in Kauthavaram, high schools in Gudivada and Guntur and colleges at Kakinada and Masulipatam.

Narla took to journalism even in his college days. His first contribution appeared in the Congress, a radical weekly, edited by Sri Madduri Annapurnayya who was later closely associated with Subhas Chandra Bose and his Forward Bloc. While still a student in the Noble College, Masulipatam, Narla started working as part-time sub-editor of the Krishna Patrika, writing occasionally to Dr. Pattabhi’s Janmabhumi, the Peopleof Lahore and the Maharatta of Poona. In fact he paid his way through college by his free-lance journalism.

It was inevitable that Narla should make journalism his career. But in his youth he was very much moved by the social and political conditions of his time. Even when he was attending the private middle school in Kauthavaram he came under the influence of the Brahmo Samaj, which a decade or two earlier had played such an important part in the cause of social justice in Andhra. But this great movement had gradually lost its hold on Andhra, as well as in Bengal, and some of its followers drifted into other fields, mainly political. Narla in his early years at college was just ripe for the political movement. At the time of the Salt Satyagraha, into which he plunged most recklessly, he was beaten up brutally by the Malabar police who were specially posted in East Krishna where this movement was gaining momentum every day. The occasion for this brutal treatment was, interestingly enough, the discovery, during a raid on his home, of an article which was ready to be posted to Janmabhumi. Enraged by the language of this article, the European Dy. S. P. ordered the immediate removal of Narla to the outskirts of the village for the purpose of setting an unforgettable example. The beating was so severe that he lost consciousness and it was almost by a miracle that he escaped death.

The East Krishna District Congress Committee, in the false hope of stemming the wave of police terrorism, appealed to Narla through the Editor of the Krishna Patrika and induced him to file a civil suit for damages against the police officers that were responsible for the violent attack on his person. The police in their turn arrested him on a trumped-up charge of picketing an arrack shop and succeeded in getting him sentenced to a term of six months’ hard labour. He appealed and was released on bail. Meanwhile the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed and the case against him was dropped. Narla also was persuaded to withdraw his suit against the police.

While he had forgiven the police for their brutal attack on his person, he could not reconcile himself to the political situation that followed the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Driven by a violent sense of righteous anger against foreign misrule and a deep feeling of frustration under Congress leadership, he joined a terrorist group and was actively engaged for some time in collecting illicit fire arms. Narla however did not have the mental make-up of a terrorist. Owing to certain differences in policy with an active member of the group, Narla withdrew from the terrorist movement just in time to escape being one of the principal accused in the Madras Conspiracy Case.

On the eve of the introduction of the new Constitution which was soon to whirl the Congress into political power in the various provinces of India, Narla, characteristically, decided to quit active politics and take to journalism as a profession. Arriving in Madras, with less than two rupees in his pocket, looking out for a job, he had the good fortune to meet the veteran journalist Sri S. G. Acharya of the Chitragupta and Praja Bandhuwho befriended him. But during the first few months of his stay in Madras, he could only make a precarious living from his frequent contributions to the Telugu press. He saw little future for the Telugu journals of that era. The colossal success of the Hindu and the rapid rise of the Indian Express, attracted him to the English journals, but he could get no footing in either. The only experience he was able to get was as an unpaid apprentice on the Justice, the organ of a decaying party bolstered up by decadent Zamindars. Even this incongruous attachment ceased within a month. Alarmed by police reports that Narla was a dangerous terrorist, the Editor sacked the unpaid apprentice.

Some months afterwards, Narla got on to the Swarajya as city reporter on the magnificent salary of Rs. 25 per month with an allowance of Rs. 5 for a tram pass. Like many of the young men who had starved along with their wives and children to keep the Swarajya going under the idealistic, but thoroughly unbusiness-like, management of the Andhra-Kesari, Narla is invariably silent when questioned about the cash he had actually received from the Swarajya. His experience on the Swarajya, however, was invaluable though he had served only eight months on this journal. Rapidly shifted from reporting to proof-reading, from there to sub-editing, and ultimately to the desk of the sole night-editor, even of a journal which was on the verge of extinction, he had a training which was to stand him in good stead in later life.

Driven by the necessity to eke out a livelihood, however small, Narla moved from one impoverished journal to another, ranging from the news-editorship of the Janavani, to the Editor- ship-in-charge of thePrajamitra, till he ultimately reached the Andhra Prabha, as its news-editor, on August 1, 1938, a fortnight before its birth. In 1942 he became the Editor of this Journal and rapidly built it up into the largest circulated Telugu daily.

Under the imaginative editorship of Narla, the Prabha, more than any other Journal, has played an important part in shaping public opinion in Andhra. At the time of the formation of the Andhra State, Narla pleaded for the location of the capital at Guntur. He did not succeed. But the men who persisted in dragging the cumbersome machinery of the newly-formed State to out-of-the-way Kurnool were soon to realise the mistake they had committed, a mistake which has cost this deficit State some crores of wasteful expenditure. The temporary location of the High Court at Guntur was perhaps an accident, dependent on the whims of the leader of an insignificant political party. But the atmosphere was created by the Prabha to locate it in that ever-growing city which alone, of all the cities in Andhra, could undertake the responsibility. And the formation of Visalandhra was to some extent the result of persistent hammering by the Prabha. But for its vigorous campaign the ugly name of ‘Andhra-Telangana’ would have been foisted on it. It was Prabha again that led the opposition to the Krishna-Pennar Project. For months it battled against the scheme which sought to divert the waters of the Krishna to the far-off South, leaving millions of acres of farm land on its very banks athirst and arid. It may perhaps be mentioned in passing that it was Prabha which first suggested that the new scheme which replaced the Krishna-Pennar be named the Nagarjuna Sagar Project. Another claim of this Journal under the editorship of Narla for the gratitude of Andhra is the public funds it collected to the tune of more than Rs. 750,000 to give succour to the people that were hit by natural calamities like famine and flood.

Honest journalism is rare in any country. Many journals are swayed by party leanings; their policies are shaped by business interests, sometimes even by the whims of an individual. But Narla is always fearless in his criticism. Without becoming attached to any of the groups which had been squabbling in the field of Andhra politics during the last 15 years, he expressed his opinions in no uncertain language. The Andhra Kesari, Gopala Reddi, Sanjiva Reddi and Acharya Ranga have all had their share of severe criticism bordering on censure from this fearless journalist. He has built up for the Prabha a reputation worthy of the Manchester Guardian.

But it is as a writer that Narla is better known to the intellectuals of Andhra. His numerous publications stand testimony to the literary talents of this versatile writer. His first book, Swadesa Samstanalu, dealing with the Indian States, was published while he was still in college. It was received very favourably by the press. A review of the book in glowing terms by Sri Mutnuri Krishna Rao was published as a first leader in the Krishna Patrika. A thousand copies were sold within three months of publication, quite a record at the time for a first book by an unknown author. His second venture in authorship, Neti Russia, which was perhaps the very first book in Telugu on Soviet Russia, was written while he was still a student and was published soon after he passed his B. A. examination in 1934. It was banned almost immediately after publication by the Madras, Hyderabad and Mysore Governments Kotta Gadda, a collection of sixteen One-Act Plays, is now in its second edition. He is the first playwright in Andhra whose One-Act Plays were presented to the public by a professional troupe. Many of them are being enacted in almost every town, and in a large number of villages, in Andhra. Some of his plays were produced by me for the Andhra University Experimental Theatre and one of them Prarabdham was included in a collection of One-Act Plays edited by me and recently published.His One-Act Plays have contributed considerably to experimental drama in Andhra, and his volume of plays is acknowledged as an outstanding contribution to modern Telugu literature.

Narlavari mala, a collection of 384 verses, on the model of Vemana, embodying the author’s thoughts in various moods, is already recognised as a first-rate work and has been quoted extensively at public meetings and in private conversations His Jagannatakam, another collection of poems and songs, is also well-known. Some of the songs in this collection have been recorded by the A. I. R. for their national broadcasts. His other works include Maata-Manti and Pitcha-Paati, two collections of essays, and Kadambam, a literary miscellany. Besides these works of literary standing, there are several other publications of his on current politics. More than one of his books had been banned by provincial and State Governments during the period of struggle for freedom. Some of his writings were translated into Hindi, Tamil and Kannada.

I had come into first contact with his work in 1936 through his Telugu translation of a Tchehov’s story, Chorus Girl. As my wife and I had translated the same story and published it eight years earlier, I was interested to note that he was completely ignorant of the earlier translation. I have had occasion to admire his work as news-editor of the Janavani, the short-lived journal to which I was contributing weekly political notes. The work of Narla as news-editor of the Andhra Prabha was very interesting. New words were appearing every day during the tension of the Second World War. Translations were difficult, and archaic Sanskrit equivalents, previously so common in Telugu, were found to be inadequate. Everyone looked to the Andhra Prabha for newly-coined words which expressed the meaning and were easily understood by the man in the street. At that time I was doing broadcasts for the A. I. R., Madras, in refuting enemy propaganda, and found the terminology of the Prabha quite adequate.

We had not met, in spite of several common interests we had, in all the years I had lived in Madras. It was only years later, when Narla visited the Andhra University at Waltair to deliver an address to the students, that I first met him. During his brief stay with us we talked of Konark which he was about to visit. I found that he was very well-informed, and that he was quite different from the charlatans who are only too ready to prattle on art. During the years that followed, I was to come into closer contact with him in various cultural activities.

When a man becomes successful in life, symbols of success surround him. Some successful men buy luxurious automobiles, build flamboyant houses and dress themselves expensively–not so Narla. He has neither a car nor a house of his own, and his dress has always been of the simple kind that Andhra had adopted since Vandemalaram days. He lives simply with his family in Royapettah in an essentially domestic setting in a first-floor flat. A few feet away from this apartment he does his work in another first-floor flat in a different building. I found both the apartments filled with exquisite treasures which only a connoisseur could gather. Delicate water-colours, carefully arranged on walls lined with a magnificent collection of books on varied subjects, chaste bronzes on low book-shelves, embroidered rugs from Kashmir on the floor, Indian style furniture covered by Masulipatam Kalanikaries and Orissa weaves, Bihar curtains on doors, are but a few of the treasures which Narla has gathered in his delightful abode. I found this powerful editor surrounded by beautiful things, well-read in world literature, well-informed on art, intelligent as well as pleasant in conversation, ready as much to listen as he is to talk.

Sponsored by the Southern Languages Book Trust, Madras.