Kalki R. Krishnamurthy gave Tamil journalism a new direction and left his mark on Tamil literature too. A tribute by R. SAMPATH.
THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY
His forte was humour Kalki.
IF Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharati heralded the renaissance of Tamil poetry, Kalki R. Krishnamurthy was the trendsetter in racy Tamil prose. Barring drama, the master storyteller dabbled in all aspects of Tamil literature poetry and writing historical and social novels, travelogues, satirical pieces and reviews of books, stage plays and films.
The greatness of Kalki, who passed away 50 years ago, lies in his putting Tamil journalism on a pedestal.
Learning the alphabet of Tamil journalism from the great Thiruvika (V. Kalyanasundara Mudaliar), Kalki joined Rajaji to assist him in running Vimochanam, a magazine devoted to propagating exclusively Prohibition (Kalki was already a follower of Rajaji in the freedom struggle).
Subsequently, Kalki was picked by S.S. Vasan to be the editor of Ananda Vikatan, a journal with humour as its staple diet. In fact, Vasan was impressed by Kalki's very first article, "Yettiki Potti" (point-counterpoint), which was a satire on people's irrational faith in omens.
Kalki's forte was humour. Apart from dishing out humorous articles, he introduced wit and thereby wisdom even in historical and social novels. The following few cull-outs from his contributions indicate his passion for humour.
Kalki excelled in reviewing music and dance concerts, discs, plays and films and showered accolades where they were due and was vitriolic where they deserved condemnation. All his reviews were laced with humour.
While reviewing S.G. Kittappa's disc, Kalki starts thus: "No, dear readers, I am not saying that Kittappa's plate is very good. If I say so, at least 1,00,000 fellows will pounce on me `who are you to certify Kittappa's plate?' Hence I am not saying that. What then? One may ask. I am only accepting your view that `Kittappa's plate is really good'. That's all!"
His constant lament was that the Tamil stage had not come of age. He was all praise for the Hindi plays, "Daku Mansoor" and "Chandidas" and the Telugu drama, "Vipra Narayana".
Setting a trend
Film reviews of Kalki were a class by themselves. While castigating the themes of films like Gemini's "Samsaram", Raj Kapoor's "Awara", Vijaya Productions' "Patala Bhairavi", he had a good word for others like N.S. Krishnan's "Nallathambi", C.N. Annadurai's "Velaikkari" and "Avvaiayar" (Gemini). When orthodox people criticised "Velaikkari" and "Nallathambi" for their so-called atheistic undertones, Kalki shot back that the films only highlighted the negative aspects of theism.
Kalki was instrumental in chiselling a generation of successful humorous writers like Devan, Thumilan, Saavi, Nadodi, Sasi, Ennaar and Pudhumaipitthan, to name only a few.
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