Encomiums were heaped on R. Rajagopal, founder-secretary, Karthik Fine Arts, at a function held to honour his six decades of service. s.sivakumar

‘Karthik' Rajagopal can be awarded a perfect ten -- as an organiser, administrator, guide to every artist, and above all as a great human being, said ARS. R. Rajagopal, founder-secretary, Karthik Fine Arts (KFA), is a godfather to many artists in the field of drama, dance and music.

Beginning with an invocation by Gayathri Venkatraghavan, the function at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, to felicitate Rajagopal for his 60 years of service to art, witnessed a host of popular personalities, from the drama world in particular, paying tribute to the man who had shaped their destinies for the better.

M. Murali (of Sri Krishna Sweets) said, as secretary of the sabha, Rajagopal has performed a penance of sorts to further the growth of the arts. KFA is a vibrant organisation in his hands. L. Sabaretnam (chairman, KFA), who delivered the welcome address and who has been associated with KFA from 1996, remarked that working with Rajagopal is a rewarding experience -- Rajagopal was strict even at meetings. K. N. Ramaswamy of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, said that Rajagopal has been associated with the Bhavan's functioning for over 30 years and can be called the cultural ambassador of India.

S. Ve. Sekher observed, “His experience is my age and Rajagopal has the ability to suggest corrections during rehearsals and maintains excellent rapport with all whom he knows.” Cho recalled his 55 year-long association with Rajagopal. Rajagopal critically evaluated the first staging of ‘Madras by Night,' suggested that certain parts be edited, which when executed made the play a roaring success. He can gauge viewer needs perfectly.

ARS had something similar to say. Rajagopal's judgments and observations regarding Mouli's witty hit, ‘Flight No. 172,' helped a lot. He added that Rajagopal had a keen eye for spotting talent.

K. Balachander (KB) felt that the exchanges of the speakers were not mere ornamental words. “If I have established myself today as a banyan tree, undoubtedly the seed was sown by Rajagopal.”

He remembered the special interest Rajagopal evinced in the staging of ‘Major Chandrakanth.' Actor-director V.S. Raghavan strongly felt that a sabha secretary's job is thankless and unenviable. That Rajagopal has been at the helm for so long reflects the greatness of the man and his deeds. An e-mail tribute from Visu was also read out.

Well-planned event

The sterling performances by students of Radhika Shurajit and Anita Guha, which entertained the audience, came between the speeches. The evening had been planned well. Director S.P. Muthuraman mentioned it saying that other organisers too can adopt the pattern.

He was present more as part of the drama audience than as a film director, he said, and described Rajagopal as an interesting personality.

Rajagopal always wanted things to happen on time and accorded extreme importance to the work ethics -- that was Sachhu. ‘Kathadi' Ramamurthy said that Rajagopal was one among the three persons who had been unforgettable influences in his life. “I understood many truths, including the story behind the epithet ‘Nellikka Moottai' from him. He was the one who lit the lamp in my life's journey,” ‘Kathadi' added.

Rajagopal's secret of being youthful till this day is his passion for art, right through his life, said Lakshmi Viswanathan. “If we, as performers, can think of a fantastic December season year after year, we owe it to ‘Karthik' Rajagopal, who has been a silent pillar of strength,” she emphasised.

Priyadarsini Govind saw him as a man with a no-nonsense attitude and one who instilled values in others , while K. S. Venkataraman, secretary, Mylapore Fine Arts Club (MFAC), can only see Rajagopal as his guru. He has the ability to settle disputes amicably and there was no in-fighting in the organisations he managed.

Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti felt that Rajagopal's coming out of MFAC during those days was a gain to the field of art. He would have carried on with the task even if he had continued in MFAC, he added.

Rajagopal's aim is to foster sabhas and through them art – these were the words of A. Natarajan, former director, Doordarshan Kendra, Chennai.

R Krishnaswami (secretary, Narada Gana Sabha) said Rajagopal is held in high esteem by other sabhas and staging dramas or events at KFA means a tacit approval and that other sabhas will follow suit. Rajagopal felt that all sabhas were members of a fraternity.

In his acceptance speech read out by T. V. Varadarajhen Rajagopal acknowledged all those who are a part of KFA and rasikas, but for whom KFA could not have attained its present status. He remembered the great role played by T. T. Vasu then and AVS Raja and Sabaretnam now, in KFA's growth. At 87, he still feels 27, because of the strength of those around him. He made specific mention of D. S. Ramanujam who had assisted him throughout.

Excerpts from ‘Karthik' Rajagopal's life were screened as a short film, and all those who were part of KFA from its growth to its present state paid tributes.

The event was imaginatively anchored by Chandra Mohan. Sekhar Rajagopal proposed the vote of thanks.