Main Shayar Toh Nahin: Poetry in Indian Cinema
Rajiv Vijayakar and VAK Ranga Rao with Manasi Prasad
Born in the Thirties in Madras, his mother-tongue is Telugu, medium of education, English, at the Good Shepherd Convent, Madras, the Bishop Cotton Boys’ High School, Bangalore and the Madras Christian College School. He did go to the Pachaiyappa’s College, Madras but got no degree, not even qualifying as an undergraduate. But a good foundation for English was laid at the three schools and a love for Telugu flowered with the blessings of Sri Malladi Ramakrishna Sastri and flourished with the guidance of Dr. Arudra.
The pre-natal seed of dance sown by Bangalore Nagaratnamma received nurture from two other Devadasis, Seetaram who served both God Venugopala and the Rajah, at Bobbili founded by his ancestor, and Kalavar Ring alias Saride Lakshminarasamma of Vizianagaram famous for her song on disc, her dance in mejuvani and harikathas; and her charity.
The inherent hunger for Cinema of the vintage era made him a staunch devotee, a fanatic for facts, a connoisseur of film history and its documentation. (The British film Institute’s Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema conveys its special thanks to him). His passion for gramophone records, mostly the 78rpm kind, made his collection of 52000, in forty national and international languages a unique source of knowledge. In turn it acquainted him with languages, dances, musics of many lands.
With this background, he built up a reputation for his definitive essays on all these aspects published in the Indian Express, the Madras Mail, the Hindu, Screen, Sruti (in English), Andhra Prabha, Andhra Patrika, Vijayachitra, Rachana, Vartha (in Telugu). As a book reviewer, he is relished for the flair and zest he brings into them by readers, and feared and respected by the authors, careless and committed.