The Appajosyula-Vishunubhotla Foundation (AJOVIBHO), this January, decided to pitch its tent of annual arts fete at Tenali, the cultural capital of Telugus. A relentless composite cultural activity going for the last 26 years, the four-day bonhomie witnessed the coming together of writers, thespians, linguists, actors. The event showcased the rich and varied talent, which is raising the bar from year to year. 

As the who’s who list of awardees over the period of a quarter century, speak volumes of the hard work that goes into the organising the event year after year. This year, famous thespian and playwright Dr Modali Nagabhushana Sarma, a noted poet of anti-establishment stance since the 1960s; Nagnamuni (Manepallli Hrusheekesava Rao), and the man of art Rayala Giridhar Goud received the honours of the foundation during the celebrations from January 3-6. 

The programme brings the important Telugu festival, Sankranthi, 10 days before to the portals of Telugu culture. One man’s dream project, and in reality, a complex talent search, the four days as always are abuzz with a tight schedule of lectures, exhibitions, book releases, and award conferment in the evenings. Appajosyula Satyanarayana is a man of few words, but his actions since the last quarter century, project him as a significant patron of arts and literature. Not many would have his type of consistent plan and collective action. 

Dr Modali Nagabhushana Sarma is a prominent name in Telugu theatre and his contribution as a playwright, who adopted many foreign plays to Telugu stage, and contributed to the debate and the development of the role of director or Desika, in the success of theatre, is noteworthy.  Now 82, Sarma had early initiation to the theatre, in the early 1950s, when he played Madhuravani the famous role in ‘Kanyasulkam’ at Machilipatnam (Bandar), and as a writer when his story saw the light in the year 1954, in the reputed magazine Bharathi. 

He did MFA from Illinois University, the USA after his Masters’ at Osmania University. His stint at the same university had seen that he essayed many roles and written many original plays and adaptations to the tune of 70 plays. His play ‘Prajanayakudu Prakasam’ was a roaring success, and this contribution from the thespian received the Telugu University Puraskar, and in the year 2013, he was honoured with the NTR Theatre Award.  He edited volumes on Telugu theatre and published ‘Telugu Sahityam – Gandhiji Prabhavam’, and ‘Lochana’, a compilation of his essays. 

As director, he had directed plays in English and Sanskrit as well, some of them are: ‘The Visit’, ‘King Oedipus’, ‘Hayavadana’, ‘Tuglak’, ‘Mrichchakatika’, ‘Waiting for Godot’, etc. His original plays include ‘Vishadnatham’, ‘Janta Pakshulu’, ‘Sambhavaami’, ‘Nara Jathi Charitra’, ‘Manmadhudu Mallee Puttaadu’, amongst others. He also translated international plays like ‘Antigone’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘Doll’s House’, ‘Enemy of the People’, etc, into Telugu. Thus, the repertoire of Sarma is quite wide and vibrant. His choice to be the recipient of Life Time Honour by AJOVIBHO is a deserving delicate act of icing the cake.       

Nagnamuni, the principal poet behind the Digambara Movement in the initial days, is a constant presence in the modern literature. His long poem ‘Koyyagurram’, his early stories ‘Nagnamuni Kathalu’, and ‘Viloma Kathalu’ in the period of Emergency, written in a Kafkaesque style, with the dissent of Albert Camus, rate him to be one of the significant anti-establishment voices in Telugu literature. Subsequent writings like radio adaptation of ‘Mala Pilla’, and the original play ‘Kaaranam’, ‘Akasa Devara’, etc, marked his presence sharply in the continuous decades of social change. Choosing him for the honour of distinguished litterateur is a fulfilment of recognition to innovative writing and a signal of active dissent and resentment against the status quo social order. 

Rayala Giridhar Goud, speaking with his brush, has brought a rustic ore like hue to his paintings/drawings and works of art.  Communicating through art is always an additional dimension, to this attractive talent. A student of Mysore and Baroda Universities in fine arts, Giridhar is a household name in Telugu land for his pleasing play with colours. With series on ‘Dasavathara’, ‘Buddha and Mother’, ‘Six Seasons of Ganapathi’ series, Giridhar is a promising talent, a powerhouse of endurance, and drawing covers to many illustrious books Giridhar is a suitable choice for the award of ‘Sari Leru Neekevvaroo’ - during the event.      

During the period a large number of writers, poets, theatre personalities, academicians and distinguished persons from different walks of life gathered for making this AJOVIBHO celebration a memorable success. The man behind the activity, making the tangible difference, with perception is Appajosyula Satyanarayana, needs to be congratulated for bolstering the cause of arts and literature of this energising language. 

-The writer is a bi-lingual poet, translator, critic, columnist and an orator

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