Saturday, December 4, 2021

Striking similarities between two accomplished journalists

  • K. Ramachandra Murthy presented Gora Sastri  Award

By Govindaraju Chakradhar

Govidnaraju Chakradhar

Noted editor K.  Ramachandra Murthy was presented Gora Sastry Best Journalist Award at a zoom function organized by Gora’s family members and Navasahiti Internatonal on October 10, a week after his 103rd birth anniversary (He was born on 3 October 1919). Below is the text of the  speech made by journalist, author and teacher of journalism Govindaraju Chakradhar comparing Gora Sastri’s and Murthy’s professional characteristics:

Though they are separated by a few decades, their goals were identical. Their desire and resolve was to use journalism as a tool for the general welfare of the people. They treaded their professional paths accordingly.

The similarities between the professional lives of Gora Sastri (Govindu Rama Sastri) and Kondubhatla Ramachandra Murthy are surprising. Both got into the field of journalism accidentally. Gora Sastri was working as ASM (Assistant Station Master) at Khurda Road Railway station. He never liked the job. Dissatisfaction with the Railway job made him quit it and undertake a long journey in journalism.

Just like Gora Sastri, K.R. Murthy was also working as Traffic Inspector in APSRTC. It was a secure job. Since he was a straight forward and uncompromising person he could not stay there for long. He thought  journalism  would suit him best. He did journalism course at Arts College in Osmania University campus, got trained  before starting  his long innings in journalism in right earnest.

Murthy started his journey in journalism at Andhra Prabha. Gora  too was connected with Andhra Prabha. He worked as a special correspondent of Andhra Prabha for some time. Murthy also worked as Andhra Jyothi’s  chief of news bureau in Delhi for some time.

Both are good at Telugu and English languages.  Gora Sastri used to pen editorials for Andhra Bhoomi in Telugu and Deccan Chronicle in English on different topics on the same day. Murthy did not have opportunity to write editorials in both languages at a time but an acknowledged editor of a number of Telugu dailies, he also successfully launched and edited The Hans India, an English daily. He did his PhD in Rural Reporting Network in India and authored a valuable thesis which was later published as a book. His biography of NT Rama Rao in English is due for publication by Harper Collins.

Logo of Gora Sastri’s popular column Vinayakudi Veena, Gora Sastri.

Newspaper editors who are also creative writers can do wonders. Gora excelled as a columnist, story writer, author of plays for stage as well as Radio as he was brilliant as editorial writer. ‘Vinayakudi Veena’ was his famous column. He started this column in ‘Ananda Vaani‘ and continued in ‘Telugu Swatantra.’

Ramachandra Murthy also published his column for decades. He published a book on sports, in which he was proficient, titled ‘Kreeda Bharatam.’ He penned satire in a weekly column named ‘Saradaala Pradaa.’ ‘Amoeba’ was the name of the novel he wrote with journalism backdrop. He authored another Telugu novel ‘Kaala Meegham’ in the wake of Al Quaida’s attack on Twin Towers in New York. He also wrote some short stories.

News, essay, comment, column, story, novel – whatever be the genre, both of them could successfully catch the pulse of the readers. They made the readers follow their attractive styles and ways. They were good at explaining complicated issue in a very simple and lucid manner making them easily understood.

Sense of humour is another trait  that is common to both of them. They are experts in cutting jokes weather in the middle of a discussion or speech.

Gora Sastri never forgot the labyrinth he travelled.  Just as his friends encouraged him in literature, he too gave lift to many a writer and poet. A number of established writers started their literary forays with publication of their first work in Telugu Swatantra edited by Gora Sastri.  Be it Arudra’s ‘Twamevaaham’ or Bairagi’s ‘ Nutiloo Gontukalu’ or Chalam’s Musings or Sridevi’s ‘Kaalaateeta Vyaktulu,’ the works  saw light of the day in the pages of Swatantra. Gora Satry’s residence at Jeera was always a beehive of literary activities.

Ramachandra Murthy imbibed the same spirit. He has been in touch with writers and poets all through his life. He made them contribute to the newspaper he edited. Famous journalist G.Krishna wrote a column for ‘Udayam’ daily only because he was persuaded by Murthy. Writers and journalists such as Turlapati Kutumba Rao, Sriramana, Gollapudi Maruti Rao and  Andavalli Satyanarayana were very close to him and contributed in whichever newspaper he worked for. When Murthy was running HMTV channel, he got Gollapudi Maruti Rao to introduce more than one hundred gems of Telugu short stories through the famous programme ‘Vandella Kathaku Vandanam.’ The introductions to the stories were later complied and published as his magnum opus.

Murthy used to respect seniors in the profession such as Vuppuluri Kalidasu and Pothuri Venkateswara Rao. He was very friendly with his juniors such as K. Srinivas, Maa Sarma and Mallepalli Lakshmaiah. Famous people used to visit him at his office for a chit-chat. Vuppuluri Kalidas was one such. Six-foot tall in white comlextion  with a briefcase in hand, Vuppuluri used to be seen often involved in conversation with Murthy.  He published Gora Stasty’s column ‘Vinayakudi Veena’ for the first time in his journal ‘Ananda Vaani.’ I was encouraged by Murthy to interview such a stalwart for Udayam. It was a rare opportunity.

Both Gora Sastri and Ramachandra Murthy are protagonists of experimentation. Gora started a column ‘Bhaanalu’ and published his writings in that column. Similarly Murthy did a lot of experiments at HMTV. He has the distinction of introducing ‘Ombudsman’ system in Telugu media. Veteran journalist Varadachari served as a bridge between the channel  and the viewers. Murthy conducted an extraordinary talk show by name “Andhra Pradesh Dasa-Disa” for HMTV when the separate statehood movement in Telangana was at its peak and tensions were thick in the air.

In their long journey in journalism both had setbacks in their careers. Swatantra was stopped with the demise of renowned editor  Khasa Subba Rao. Gora Sastry shifted from Madras to Secunderabad and managed to publish Telugu Swatantra with Dr. Sridevi’s help. During that time he had to face lot of problems.

Murthy also had his set of problems after he was elevated as editor of Udayam in 1989. He had to quit the newspaper and go to Delhi.Even though there were many hurdles they did not give up. One can evaluate the work done by somebody depending on the length of the tenure he dedicated himself in his chosen profession. The fact that they continued with their profession overcoming obstacles and problems was a sign of their dedication and determination.

Like Gora Sastry, Murthy also could not compromise on his values. He quit the post of advisor to AP government when he felt he should not continue any more. Gora Sastri commanded respect among his peer group in the profession. Likewise,  Murthy has a brand image for himself. He enjoys a good reputation as a soft-spoken, capable and inclusive leader in journalism.

I congratulate Murthy on being bestowed with Gora Sastri Award.

Tailpiece: I wrote a monograph on Gora Sastri for Sahitya Academy. The Academy sent the script to Murthy for evaluation. He gave clearance after going through the script. Thus, the monograph became a link between three of us.

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