Bapu without Ramana
When Bapu received Padmasri from the President a few days ago, at long last, the thought uppermost in the minds of all those who watched the function...
Gentle humor was his forte which he produced with subtle irony or pungent sarcasm as the situation demanded. He played with words, a 'wordsmith' like no others with telling effect. It was inimitable and unsurpassable. His political satire 'Bhetala Pancha Vimsatika' written more than three decades ago is a classic of that genre and every situation and every character in it holds good even to this day very realistically.
Mullapudi, the man, is not much known except to a small circle of close friends, which is well-worth recording for posterity. Though he has himself revealed it in his very enjoyable autobiography in a lighter vein, 'Kothi Kommachhi' it is his unassuming and unpretentious nature and his abiding friendship with Bapu which will mark them both as one in a million.
It was my good fortune to have known him since 1953 when he came to Madras in search of a job. Even after he scaled great heights subsequently he was his usual self-effacing, humane and very considerate in helping less fortunate ones in life as he had himself undergone much privation in life and never tried to tone down or skip his humble beginning and never distanced himself from friends who stood by him.
He was shy and spoke very little and Bapu was his exact replica in that respect.A When he returned from his first successful trip abroad to London in 1978, where his magnum opus 'Sita Kalyanam' was screened and acclaimed by discerning critics, Bapu was felicitated in Vijayawada. On another occasion in 1990, 'Bapu Ramaneeyam' a joint effort of the celebrated duo was released at a very colourful function with a seasoned journalist Nanduri Ramamohana Rao as president and with great difficulty Bapu and Ramana were brought on to the dais for garlanding. They never spoke even a few words.
They were never after them like so many nowadays who try for them using all their powerful connections. That is the way our rulers and well-known comment of a reputed journalist, K Eswara Dutt, that 'honours and titles make small men great and great men small,' applies to them aptly. They were much greater than those titles.
For the deserving only Talking of Padma awards there are some interesting sidelights to this year's list and the rejection of Padma Bhushan by a play-back singer, has stunned everybody for the reasons given for declining.
There are quite a good number of playback singers and some of them are even far better. She feels that she deserved nothing less than the highest among them, Bharata Ratna. If she had simply declined it none could find fault with her and she would have covered herself with glory and she would have been in the illustrious company of persons like Nikhil Chakravarthy, celebrated editor of 'Mainstream' and Arun Shourie a very fearless journalist of our times.
Their reasons were unexceptionable. They felt that journalists accepting gifts and awards from the government was unethical and of highest impropriety. But she revealed her exaggerated notions about herself as someone who deserved nothing but the highest. What is her achievement or contribution to enriching music? It is surprising how and by whom she was picked up for this award. Dr Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna received his Padma Vibhushan long ago and till now he has not been conferred Bharat Ratna though there is none more deserving.
An outstanding musician Nedunuri Krishna Murthy was conferred the 'Sangeeta Kalanidhi' by Madras Music Academy and that itself was a much greater recognition for his contribution to Carnatic music than any of this government honours.A Balantrapu Ranajikantha Rao is one of our greatest musicologists and the government has not given him his due till now. The reasons for such lapses are quite obvious. They do not run after them.