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A Literary Colossus

Introducing Kodavatiganti Kutumbarao on this page is only lighting a candle to show the sun! So pervasive is his impact on the modern Telugu literary scene. KoKu is unparalleled in his understanding of Telugu life in the light of modern scientific, sociological and behavioural knowledge. In fact, modern Telugu literary order, beginning with the epoch-maker Gurajada, has achieved a great culmination in KoKu. He has imparted the scientific outlook to literature with profound understanding of nature, society and arts. His rational and realistic observations illuminated all aspects of social life. He interpreted the issues in such varied fields as literature, art, economy, social sciences, physical and biological sciences, historical philosophy, psychology and contemporary politics. Relating scientific knowledge to the human and social issues is the keynote in KoKu's writings.

With a 'class' outlook, KoKu dealt elaborately on the middle class predicament in his novels and stories. It was not merely for the sake of middle class life, but to convince the middle class on the inevitability of the working class struggles. Neither did he aim only to theorise or to postulate, but he inspired discussions on the Telugu revolutionary movements. His novel Tara won the Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy award.

The social consciousness that developed in Kutumbarao in his very childhood gave birth to a writer who recognised, but naturally, that art and literature are inseparable from society and its cause. Thus for four decades, he was relentlessly prolific. One wonders whether KoKu had ever missed a day in putting down his thoughts. His works run into thousands in all forms - stories, novels, essays, radio-plays, criticism and reviews; so much so that even his close associates are not sure of being able to put together his complete works.

In his later days, KoKu took to essays for a direct and thorough analysis of the growing social crises. His essays ranged from 'Aryans in Vedas' to 'What is cinema?' The most complex revealed itself in his essays very lucidly and precisely. He can be said to have liberated the essay-form from the clutches of the age-old practices of the pundits. KoKu was a great force in promoting the relevance of people's literature, praja sahityam and the contemporary language, vaduka bhasha relevant to the present day life. He established the irrelevance of the old forms and the classical language to the contemporary world, just as it was absurd for the writers of the bygone ages to have dealt with our times. His remarkable idiom holds the mirror to life itself.

He has always been in the forefront of progressive literary movements and continued to grow with the times. Earlier he was a member of the Navya Sahitya Parshat, Forum for Modern Literature. Later, influenced by Marxism, he joined Abhyudaya Rachayitala Sangham, Progressive Writers' Association, in the 1940's. dissatisfied with its performance, he associated himself with the Viplava Rachayitala Sangham, Revolutionary Writers' Association, when it was formed in 1970 and remained as its Vice-President till his end. Looking at progressive literature as a movement, KoKu commandeered the new thinking as to what exactly constitutes progressive literature, its purpose and various aspects. The fact that he is unrivalled in the mightiness of his words supporting the progressive ideas and hitting hard at the retrograde trends is not merely due to his brilliance and scholarship. Progressive outlook was a part of his life and blood. It was only natural for a person with such integrity, humanness and modern knowledge and an urge to practice the precepts. As an individual and writer, he believed in his responsibility to crusade for a better world, better understanding of life in all its aspects - its rationale, beauty and enlightenment. He wielded the literary tool to affect this ideal for the social cause and development. His analysis and reasoning was not only thought provoking but appealing to fight against the cruel, the ignorant, the degenerate and the superstitious.

KoKu remains a great cultural force that revolutionised the modern Telugu literature with a scientific outlook.

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