Strange are the games of fate. Two poets of almost equal stature, but one became a household name, his work had been recognised worldwide, had earned fame and fortune. And another struggled throughout his life to make two ends meet. The book Who Owns That Song by A.R. Venkatachalapathy is the story of Subramania Bharati who was the contemporary of Rabindranath Tagore.
Story of Subramania Bharati
Subramania Bharati was a freedom fighter and wrote many patriotic songs and poems, articles, novels and even translated Rabindranath Tagore’s work in Tamil language.
But somehow lady luck was not in his favour. He struggled as a writer. Many of his writings remained unpublished during his lifetime and printed work remained unsold. He barely was able to manage a family of four and died at a young age of 39.
Cry For Nationalization of His Work
It was after his death copyright of his work changed many hands and his work started seeing the light of the day. The then government banned his writing, citing them to be radical which fired further curiosity about Bharati and his books.
The chunk part of the book is about people who made profit from the writings of Bharati and how it became a bone of contention and how the Madras government decided to nationalise his work and the entire procedure.
The nationalization part has several repetitions, which could have been trimmed for a crisp read. Moreover, I wished to read more about the Mahakavi Bharati’s literary work, patriotic songs etc. which was actually not the focus of the book.
The author, towards the end, has included a few of his translated poems which were of such deep meaning especially the first one The Past is Past.
I can’t thank the author enough to spread awareness about the Tagore of Tamil Nadu. My heart goes to the author and his family who never enjoyed the fruits of his hard work.