Re: paata candamaama kadhalu

Bapa Rao (brao@tis.com)
Mon, 8 Sep 1997 11:06:14 -0700 (PDT)


Random thoughts on Chandamama:

I am certainly not the only one who maintains that it is no 
exaggeration to say that Chandamama is probably the single
most influential factor in helping to maintain a certain 
standard of Telugu in the post-independence "convented" generation. 
As an adult, I have a number of problems with its often 
hackneyed fables (e.g., why is it the 
girl's career is so totally focussed on marriage, 
vara-parikshalu, kaTnam, atta gaaru etc.) but I can't
get over the sheer brilliance and wit that show up in its 
storytelling. Anyone remember gunDu Bimanna kathalu,
from the 60s? Hilarious. Were they original inventions
or retellings?

I am especially grateful to
Chandamama for their Telugu adaptation and retelling of
so many classics. Chandamama did one of the most outstanding
retellings of Indian history back in the 60s. You can't
beat that rendition for its perfect balance of informality
and historical rigor. There was also a good deal of
editorializing--for some reason the following sentence
sticks in my mind. [ In connection with the fall of
Chand Bibi's Ahmadnagar fort during the reign of
Humayun ] " ... [yevaDO para-raaju] turki injanIrla
saayamtOnU, ahmadnagar kOTanu paDagoDutUnTE, Dilli
cakravarti yEmI eraganaTTu cUstU UrukunnaaDu."

What I like about the above passage is the fact that 
history is not presented to children in a prattling, 
condescending way--there is a critical element which touches on
the appropriate expected response of an Indian
suzerain in the face of foreign interference with the
affairs of another Indian soverign. The point is 
presented without beating the reader over the head
with it. Despite this, it is very simple even for
a 9-10 year old to get the message.

Likewise the retellings of the puraaNaas, and most recently
the illiad and odyssey. I would love to know the names
of the authors/translators (often just identified as"chandamama")
of all these projects and their bios. 

One thing I would like to understand is how come, even
under the stewardship of a visionary like Kodavatiganti
kutumba Rao, there was little effort to promote stories
with active roles for girls. Especially in the
adventure serials, the girls are basically getting
kidnapped and waiting for the boys to come and rescue
them. Should I conclude that this aspect somehow escaped
the attention of the editors, or it is a question of
market forces at work, or what? 

Also in the 60s, chandamama used to run a Q&A series
mostly dealing with science questions though other
topics such as mythology also figured (One question
was--you mean to say that Rama ate meat?). What I remember
from These Q&As had information about temperature of the sun,
sunspots, etc. There was a "prapancapu vintalu" series
in which I learned about Death Valley (mRtyu lOya), the
komoDo dragon (raakshasi balli) and the Angkor Wat temple.
I like the fact that over the past few years they somewhat
strengthened these informational features with the introduction
of the center-page quiz feature. 

My personal views.

Bapa Rao