The Moghul of Telugu poetry
August 29, 2017

Cingireddy Narayana Reddy, popularly known as CiNaRe, who passed away in June this year, was a remarkable Telugu writer, critic, poet, actor and lyricist, as well as an educationist and an expert on Telugu literature. Pulugurta Chandra Sekhar pays a tribute

Nadaka naa thalli
Parugu naa thandri
Samatha naa bhaasha
Kavitha naa swaasa
(Movement is my mother
Marching is my father
Equality is my language
And poetry is my breath)

Born on 29th July in 1931, Cingireddy Narayana Reddy began writing poetry at the age of 13. The medium of his education was Urdu, yet he wrote mostly in Telugu. His compositions carry the unmistakable influence of Urdu poetry. His first published work was a slim volume of poems titled Navvan Puvvu (The Bashful Flower), in 1953. CiNaRe, as he was better known, had more than 80 published works to his credit, including long poems, free verse, plays (both in verse and prose), essays, literary criticism, translations and ghazals.

Humanity and nature were subjects CiNaRe focused on in his poetry. In his Sahitya Akademi Award-winning Mantalu-Mana-vudu (Flames and Man) the mythological figures, Maruthi and Markandeya, epitomise man’s capacity to overcome negative influences and experiences, and progress to a happy state, powered by optimism and self-assurance.

Visvambhara (The Earth), his magnum opus, won him the prestigious Jnanpeeth Award. In it, the earth provides the platform and backdrop for the story of mankind. The long poem includes thumbnails of the lives and philosophies of Christ, Ashoka, Socrates, Buddha, Lincoln, Lenin, Marx, Gandhi and others (who are not identified by name).

CiNaRe was introduced to the Telugu film industry by N.T. Rama Rao (NTR). His first composition was for the film, Gulebakavali Katha, in 1962. He went on to contribute more than 3500 lyrics to the field of cinema. Jaya jayahey bhaaratavani, Paavani sadguna gana samupeta, a patriotic outpouring for the film Manasainodu, was the last lyric he penned for the silver screen.

CiNaRe started his working life as a lecturer at Nizam College in Hyderabad. Later, he joined Osmania University as a professor. He contributed significantly to the development of Telugu University, Hyderabad, and went on to become the vice-chancellor. He conducted the proceedings of the first convocation of the University in Telugu and made history.

Cingireddy Narayana Reddy.

CiNaRe was a trail-blazer in orga-nising the annual celebrations of the Telangana Writers Conference. Under his stewardship, the third all-India Telugu Mahasabha was held in Bengaluru and the third World Telugu Mahasabha in Mauritius. He was a Member of the Rajya Sabha from 1997 to 2003, the first poet from South India to be nominated to the Upper House of Parliament. He was a recipient of the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan.
CiNaRe also wrote poetry in Hindi and Urdu and his works have been translated into English, French, Sanskrit, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu and Kannada. His death is an irreparable loss to Telugu culture.

(The writer works for the News Services Division of All India Radio, New Delhi. He is a research scholar at Shri Jagdisprasad Jhabarmal Tibrewala University, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.)

July – September 2017