Dasubhashitam : Resurgence of literature

The era of Telugu audiobooks has just begun with the Dasubhashitam app, thanks to a city-based father-son duo

June 27, 2018 04:33 pm | Updated June 30, 2018 12:10 pm IST

 Tulasidas Konduru

Tulasidas Konduru

A bulk of social media debates, virtual discussions contribute to extending the longevity of vernacular literature in the Telugu states. Yet their efforts in encouraging readers to turn to classics and look back at our literary richness have been more restrictive than effective.

The advent of technology has opened up opportunities to connect and find innovative solutions. That’s precisely what the Hyderabad-based father-son duo Tulasidas Konduru and Kiran Kumar have done, they’ve come up with an Audible-like app for Telugu audiobooks called Dasubhashitam. The two call it a first of a kind platform to tell stories, revive art forms, encourage budding and established writers, narrators in Telugu, connect them to a wide user base.

A year ago when Tulasidas, a retired government employee, had suggested that his software engineer son Kiran read PVRK Prasad’s memoir Asalem Jarigindante , the latter responded, “I hardly have any time. You’re anyways free. Why don’t you read it out to me?” The casual conversation between the two literary enthusiasts became a starting point to develop the app. They saw this as a right opportunity to re-introduce Telugu literature to a new generation. “We can’t eat for someone else, we can’t watch a movie for others, but reading for others seems quite possible,” says Tulsidas.

Kiran’s stint with Google, HCL helped him work extensively on the interface, he also collaborated with a Chennai-based team to develop Dasubhashitam. Though the app targeted youngsters, their initial reader base was aged around 35-40 years. “The icons, font size, interface are quite easy to handle. We inhabited the sensibilities from apps like Audible and Apple podcasts,” says Kiran. The app has separate sections for fiction, poetry, non-fiction,e-books and interviews. Apart from Tulsidas, narrators of the novels and short stories include Mulugu Sarada, Goli Anjaneyulu, Chegondi Veera Venkata Satyanarayana (lyricist Anantha Sriram’s father). “Vocal clarity has been my strength since childhood, this worked in storytelling. I keenly observe the way people speak and their modulation. I dramatise the works without overdoing it. I involve myself in the content,” says Tulasidas.

Platform for arts

Also envisaged as a platform to nurture newer and ancient art forms, the duo hopes the medium helps revive radio plays and have contemporary stories narrated through the format. Dasubhashitam, available on Android and iOS devices is bound to be a boon for a wide audience that can speak but cannot read Telugu. “We did made mistakes initially, on the quality side, but our intentions are honest and we have improved over time,” they share, adding “There are not many Telugu writers these days and it’s necessary to create a market. Many lose out on distribution too. We want to create an eco-system where people think about audiobooks.”

The responses over six months have been promising. Ganapathi , Amaravathi Kathalu , Kumara Sambhavam are popular picks on the app that comprises mostly classics, epics and spiritual audiobooks as of now. PVRK Prasad had even requested the duo to come up with audiobook versions of his other works. Tulasidas says, “PV Narasimha Rao’s daughter Vani too has requested us to come up with audio books of her father’s stories. We intend to stay free from books that endorse political ideologies.”

For the future

Copyrights pertaining to the books is an area of concern, but they say the app is not pirating anything. “We are giving publicity for Telugu literature. For instance, we don't know who holds the rights for Barrister Parvateesam . We’ll put the audiobook for sale on the app and give them their share of the claim, if anyone comes forward,” Tulasidas signs off.

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