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A penchant for the poor

"Maro Prapancham, Maro Prapancham, Maro Prapancham pilichindi..." wrote Mahakavi Sri Sri, raising the hopes of the poor and oppressed sections of society. He gave a clarion call to the people to march towards a new world order-Maro Prapancham-and termed the journey to that new world as "Mahaprasthanam".

His poems are a reflection of his love for the poor and his yearning for a change. His songs, "Telugu Veera Levara..." on Alluri Seetharama Raju and "Padavoyi Bharateeyuda..." rekindle the spirit of patriotism.

Srirangam Srinivasa Rao, popularly known as Sri Sri, was born on January 2, 1910, in Visakhapatnam city. He was one of the founder-members of the Kavitha Samithi, a prestigious literary forum in Andhra Pradesh in the 1920s. He had his higher education between 1928 and 1931 in Madras. He served as a sub editor of "Andhra Prabha", a Telugu daily in 1938. Later, he worked for All India Radio (AIR) and the Armed Forces.

He honed his literary skills on traditional lines at the Kavitha Samithi. He intensively cultivated the metrical poetry in Telugu in those days. His first book was 'Prabhava'.

It was Abburi Ramakrishna Rao, the first librarian of Andhra University and an erudite scholar, who had groomed him into a professional writer. He introduced Sri Sri to Marxism. This had resulted in the Mahakavi changing his course from traditional to progressive writing. He compiled his magnum opus 'Mahaprasthanam' in over a decade, and it was published in the early 1940s.

The Viplava Rachayatala Sangham (VIRASAM) was founded during the shastipoorthi (60th birthday) celebrations of Sri Sri. He was actively associated with the association in its formative years. He was a pioneer in revolutionary poetry in Telugu.

He entered into Telugu cinema with 'Ahuti' in 1950. The film was a dubbed version of 'Neera Aur Nanda' in Hindi, produced in 1946. Some of the songs in the film became major hits.

According to Chandu Subba Rao, a well-known writer and Professor of Geophysics in AU, Sri Sri brought a historical and materialistic sense to traditional Telugu imagination, ruling the roost at that time. He brought a new light and ravishing delight to the poetic spectrum.

In his tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, when the Father of the Nation was assassinated, Sri Sri wrote: "He is not now...He is there always...He is as weak as a straw...As strong as a mountain. He is rich as Narayan, the husband of the Goddess of Wealth...as poor as a pauper in penury. The God of non-violence...Violently furious on the face of failure of justice...The God who rained the milk of tolerance. A great soul...a saintly role... I bow my head in extreme reverence".

That was Sri Sri, the poet at his best, whose statue is located on the Beach Road.

B.M.G.

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