Friday, February 22, 2013

Another Telugu autobiography

This is the fourth I read recently written by people from farmer families in Krishna -Guntur districts. The first two Bidabratuku (భీద బ్రతుకు) by Yalamanchili Venkatappaiah(1895-1997) written in1987 and nirjana varadhi (నిర్జన వారధి) by Kondapalli Koteswaramma written around the age of 90, describe the social conditions, exposure to inpendece struggle, nationalism, communism from 1930s. Both are short and excellent. Here is an interview with Koteswaramma. The third is the autobiography of Kodali Kamalamma (1916-)(online, made available by her children) written around 2008. She took part in the independence struggle is an atheist who followed Gora. Though the rest of the family seems somewhat traditional, she seemed to continue with her ideas and walked on burning coals at the age of 68 to debunk miracles. 
I just browsed through the autobiography of Katragadda Murari (1944-), a film producer from the same area with a similar family background and gives glimpses of the next couple of generations. The family is richer, the older generation supported both independence movement as well as communists and played hosts to several communists were underground in the late forties and early fifties. Murari grew up in joint family and there is much about his problems growing up the scars of which stayed on throughout his life. But it is a long and badly written book; possibly knowing the author's temper, nobody dared to help edit it carefully. Possibly lack of editing kept it very frank. There are tales of corruption in the educational system, powerful relatives helping to change grades or help to pass even in Medical schools. But we do not even get to know except indirectly much about the aspirations, strengths and weaknesses of the author. But the legendary Chakrapani who is not known to suffer fools gladly took him as an assistant without asking and kept him as an assistant until death. Chakrapani must have seen some thing in him, possibly on the basis of an article Murari wrote about parents and children at the age of 17. But we do not get any insights into the personalaties of the many famous people who flit through the book. I read to mainly because I saw few of the people mentioned and know almost all the names mentioned in the book. Except for a bit about Kavuri Ramesh Babu, I am no wiser. But the book is a powerful reminder of the dangers of the joint family system which was common those days. Now all our children are in Melbourne and come to our house almost daily and eat with us half the time. Sometimes, I am tempted to have a joint family set up instead of all us paying so many bills separately. The traumas of Murari will keep me away from taking such steps.
Interviews with Katragadda Murali https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pga-vVl8IYw
and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VVSCIQ5Ti4
In the second part of the interview Murari talks about Bhanumati from 5 minutes  until 12 minutes, and a bit about joint family from 18 minutes.The incident with Athreya from about 18:40 in the first interview.
P.S. Sri Murari clarifies on Facebook that there was some editing
http://www.facebook.com/anandaswarup.gadde
Mine was not a careful review or any such thing. Just a quick reaction to book that I found interesting about social conditions and hoped that more erudite readers would read and comment about it.

3 comments:

Narayanaswamy S. said...

I agree with overall conclusions about the overall nature of the book. However, it appealed to me for a few reasons, nevertheless. I grew up in exactly the same locale, played around the same area, albeit 20 years later. By then, that area had changed a lot. So, it was very fascinating to me to see how my childhood locale was 20 years before me. Second - it was very fascinating to me the interactions and complex equations that governed the joint family. The later half of the book may be appealing to movie historians and trivia enthusiasts - it was not to me.

gaddeswarup said...

Thanks Narayanaswamy Garu. I liked parts of the book but thought that there were repetitions. In parts it is powerful and reminded me a bit of Gopichand's Asamarthuni jeevayatra. I mainly wrote about since I have been away from the locale for a long time and hoped that others would write about it. I am slightly older than Murari's and saw that area around 1954-56. But I grew up in different villages of Guntur district though my father was from Krishna district.

teresa said...

The book made a very interesting read for me since I heard all those names growing up in my maternal gradmom's household in Atkuru, krishna dist. I made my mom read the book also and she fondly remembered those people and times.

బల్లకూర్పు is one word I totally forgot over the years. Thanks to the author, it brought a flood of very pleasant memories of my childhood at my grandparents' house!
yes, the book could've been a little slimmer but I certainly didn't mind it :)