In the late 1880s in the village of Angaluru in Krishna district, a little boy set out to get hold of a neem twig to brush his teeth. He stopped by a neem tree and found a nail wound by strands of hair embedded to the bark of the tree, along with a few coins, lemons and a cane; the paraphernalia used for black magic, a sight that would normally keep people away. But this boy pocketed the coins to buy sweetmeats and took away the cane to herd the donkeys on his way back to the village. The alarmed villagers raised hue and cry. Unmindful of villagers superstitious beliefs, the boy kept the cane with him for a few days just to belie all the myths surrounding black magic.
These early signs of revolutionary traits were just the beginning of a journey in the life of Tripuraneni Ramaswamy lawyer, poet, playwright, activist and reformer who introduced for the first time, rationalism and humanism into Telugu poetry. Not many of us are aware that Ramaswamys statue adorns the Tank Bund road along with other Telugu stalwarts of yore.
Ramaswamys son, Tripuraneni Gopichand, carried forward his fathers legacy and established himself in the literary realm as one of the most forward thinking writers, playwright, Telugu short story writer, novelist, editor and film director. To mark Gopichands 109th birth anniversary on September 8, a remarkable biography on the life of Tripuranenis was brought out by his son, actor and documentary filmmaker Sai Chand.
Sai Chand who came back to limelight in 2017 with his role as Sai Pallavis father in Fidaa, traces his family history, events, anecdotes from the lives of his illustrious father and grandfather in a reader-friendly narrative. One always wondered why Sai Chand, a progeny of two literary giants, has not penned anything to carry forward the legacy. It took Mark Tully, author and former BBC India correspondent to nudge him into writing. Recalls Sai chand, Sir Mark Tully had come down to Hyderabad in 2015 to receive the Gopi Chand Literary Award. While leaving, at the airport, he said, writing is your inheritance, why are you not writing anything like your father and grandfather? You are making documentaries, why dont your document in words? That made me think. Inspired and motivated by the encouragement from Mark Tully, Sai Chand set out to document his familys legacy for which he referred the already published books on his grandfather by Gorrepati Venkata Subbaiah and many others. He weaved in his own experiences of growing up in the family of littrateurs.
What sets this book apart from other works on Ramaswamy and Gopichand? A grandsons loving and endearing recollection of memories spent with the two icons. The book, painstakingly put together, is as much about the Tripuranenis history as Sai Chands foray and journey into the film industry. While the pre-Independence period makes for an informative read, Sai Chands tryst with cinema comes as a revelation. The chapter where he writes about how, out of the blue he became a hero in Maa Bhoomi, remains one of the gripping chapters. Producers B Narsing Rao and G Ravindranath had engaged Gautam Ghosh to direct their dream project a film on Telangana peasant movement. Just before the shooting got started, actor Narayan Rao, whos to play the lead, had lost his passport while attending the Karlovi Vary film festival and couldnt return to India immediately. Since Gautam Ghosh was already in town, the producers couldnt wait and selected 22-year-old Sai Chand to play the central role of the revolutionary leader Ramaiah. Thus was born the actor, who created a niche image for himself in the Telugu film industry.
The book has a fascinating recount of Sai Chands growing up years in Hyderabad, specially in the areas like Chikkadpalli, old cinema theatres, Irani cafes and his association with AIRs most popular programme in the 70s Balanandam. A nostalgic connect with the 70s generation.
It is possible that our mind might shift memories according to its convenience, but I remained 100% true to the facts, writes Sai Chand, in his introduction to the book.
On being asked why he named the book Care Of, Sai Chand has a ready answer: My existence is care of my grandfather, father and Ma Bhoomi. And this is a document of those three factors.
Sai Chand plans to bring out this book in English in a fiction format. Lot of things that I hesitated to mention in this book, I can freely express if its a fiction, he says with a laugh.