World Telugu Conference: Then and now

The temple town is all set for the World Telugu Conference. Photo: Nagara Gopal   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Quite a few have expressed that World Telugu Conference to be held in Tirupati in the last week of December this year should be conducted on lines of the inaugural WTC 1975 of Hyderabad. Notwithstanding the tremendous efforts of the then Minister of Education Mandali Venkata Krishna Rao under the leadership of Chief Minister Jalagam Vengala Rao, and for one who witnessed the latter close quarters, one felt that they could have organised it in a much better way.

We were fresh from Madras (now Chennai) as part of Andhra Patrika Telugu daily newspaper unit shifted to Hyderabad in Basheerbagh, now housing the Lok Ayukta office, and were staying literally next door to the main venue of Lal Bahadur Stadium. The WTC 1975 can be termed a success in that it was perhaps the biggest congregation of its kind, particularly of Telugu literary and cultural groups, in history. It also saw some personalities like Sankarambadi Sundarachari who penned the anthem Maa Telugu Talliki Mallepoodhanda..., and the actor-singer Tanguturi Suryakumari who came from abroad especially to render the anthem, surfacing all of a sudden. The biggest beneficiary, of course, was former film playback singer M.S. Ramarao who stole the thunder through his ‘Sundarakanda’ which became an instant hit.

However, it has to be admitted that the good is often forgotten while the negative aspects linger for long. It began to show from the beginning — Union Minister and former Chief Minister of AP Kasu Brahmananda Reddy who had come from Delhi to launch Andhra Patrika edition only a few days earlier, was conspicuous by his absence. Then there was ‘Mahakavi’ Sri Sri sitting in a dharna carrying a portrait of Mao Tse Tung to protest against imperialistic forces. That photo was carried by Illustrated Weekly of India, and Sri Sri did not have any further role to play during the entire conference!

The planning too was haphazard. The legendary poet Rayaprolu Subbarao was seen reciting his own poems, straining every nerve, despite his advanced age, in one corner of the stadium but the audience there numbered hardly a dozen. The show seemed to extend to other parts of Hyderabad city too like the Exhibition Grounds. No, there was no Telugu exhibition set up there but it was an evening venue — an open theatre to stage the famous Pandavodyoga a vudyogav Vijayalu by the inimitable Peesapati Naraasimharao as Krishna with other members of the troupe like Vemuri Ramayya and Shamukhanjaneyulu also performing. Again, the audience remained sparse as the winter chill did not seem to leave the Deccan even during the fag end of March.

It was a pity that while Rayaprolu was left in the lurch, there were lusty cheers for someone who least expected them. An announcer of Radio Ceylon Telugu commercial broadcasting service who had a strong Tamil accent, Meenakshi Ponnudorai, appeared on the scene to thunderous applause as her programme of film songs was more popular among Telugu listeners.

Coming to some of the good things that remained in memory, film actor S. Varalakshmi who was popular as ‘Svaralakshmi’ in film circles, gave a scintillating musical concert while another veteran G. Varalakshmi lived in her role on the stage as ‘Mahanati’, a successful play.

Many luminaries from various walks of life were honoured on the occasion and for one who was then a sport scribe, it was heartening that three sports journalists — R.U. Dixit who contributed for both PTI and UNI despite their rivalry which ended soon after when Emergency was imposed a couple of months later, T.N. Pillay of Deccan Chronicle and K. Radhakrishna of Indian Express were picked for the award. Prapanchakreeda Sangraham

The new chairman of Official Language Commission Mandali Buddhaprasad is the son of the illustrious M.V. Krishna Rao, the architect of WTC 1975. Buddhaprasad has the zeal and enthusiasm to serve Telugu language which earned him the post with cabinet rank. He has the ability to perform but has to race with the clock. The Telugus all over the world would love to see him succeed.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 8:45:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/World-Telugu-Conference-Then-and-now/article12439660.ece

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