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Editor's Pick

K. S. Narasimhaswamy: Mysore Jasmine of Kannada Literature

Poets help bring out the hidden beauty in the world. K. S. Narasimhaswamy’s works were just that and much more.



K. S. Narasimhaswamy, Kannada poet, poet

The world of poetry is filled with mystery. Poems are the veil that when penned down brings to notice a world that hides in the crevices of the reality we live in. Poems bring out expressions and perspectives that help one make their voice heard. The diversity in poetry is what makes it so cathartic and bewitching. But sadly, poetry wasn’t always this diverse or cathartic. Followed by a string of rules and regulations the poetry world was very very strict. But then there are always a few such poets who usher in a new genre by just expressing themselves however they wanted to. One such poet was K. S. Narasimhaswamy.

The Journey

Born in Kikkeri in the Mandya district of Karnataka on 26 January 1915 K. S. Narasimhaswamy was a prominent Indian poet who wrote in the Kannada language. In 1934 he enrolled in Central College in Bengaluru and successfully obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. His marriage to Venkamma in Tiptur in 1936 is what set in motion his life as a poet.

His wife was his muse. She was the art and he was the artist. And his love for her was clearly visible in the poems he wrote about love and marital bliss. At a time when many writers were still busy writing about nature and the natural world, Narasimhaswamy found his peace in love. His works were highly inspired by Robert Burns, giving his writing style and technique a unique touch.

Apart from being a poet at heart, he was also a translator. He translated a lot of work during his time. Some of the major ones are- Media (1996), Robert Burns Kaviya Kelavu Premageetegalu (1997), and Kelavu Chinee Kavanagalu (1997). It is true that the true essence of literature can only be appreciated once it becomes accessible, and by being a translator Narasimhaswamy aided in this particular sphere.

Such ones do not just come once and leave;
does the earth only momentarily turn heaven?
Her saying that he will come again is not untrue,
the rain, the grain, all life itself happens from them.

‘It Happened This Way’
K. S. Narasimhaswamy
Translated by Madhav Ajjampur

He was part of the Navodaya movement in Kannada literature. Navodaya movement, also known as the renaissance in Kannada literature was a period in which many writers took it upon themselves to not only express but also nurture modern Kannada literature by translating many pieces of literature from English to Kannada. From poems and short stories to essays and novels, it encompassed everything. This period showed the influence of Western modernity, literature and education on Kannada literature. 

Though he is an expert translator, his masterpiece is a collection of poems- Mysooru Mallige (1942). Owing to its huge popularity this collection has received more than thirty-two reprints. Apart from publishing a huge collection of poems and translating some works, he has also written many proses such as Maariya Kallu (1942), Upavana (1958), Damayanthi (1960), and Sirimallige (1990).


Although his popular work made him stand out from the crowd he always remained rooted and was very down to earth. This quality is especially highlighted in his essay titled, Basavanagudiyalli (In Basavanagudi) when he decides to get down from a bus so that a couple can ride the bus together. He has received a lot of recognition and honour for his work. From Sahitya Akademi Award to the Asian prize for literature, he has bagged them all with his sheer talent and hopes to usher in a new era of Kannada literature.


Editor's Pick

Devika Rani: The First Lady of Indian Cinema

From making history to living her life as unapologetically herself, Devika Rani remains a force to be reckoned with to this date.



Devika Rani, Bollywood, indian Actress

A woman’s world is already challenging given that she is born with twice the societal burden than any man ever was. Imagine being the first in any field as a woman. Sounds exciting but is highly difficult. Being told left, right and centre how a man can do it better just because he is a man. Making resilience your second skin just so you could do your job right if not better is tougher than one would give a woman credit for. Then imagine trying to be first in a highly patriarchal country. Especially one riddled with superstitions and prejudices against women like colonial India. Unimaginable. But Devika Rani proved us all wrong. Her outstanding acting skills took centre stage every time she starred in a film.

Devika Rani: Early Life & Becoming The First Lady of Indian Cinema

Devika Rani was born to an affluent Bengali family to Col. Dr. Manmathnath Choudhury and Leela Devi Choudhury in 1908. Given her parents’ highly educated and affluent background, it was understandable how Devika Rani was given the freedom to explore many career options which were considered unsuitable for women in those times. Being related to the legendary Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore from both her maternal and paternal sides, her artistic inclination did not come as a surprise. 

After completing her schooling she enrolled herself in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Given her love for the world of art and aesthetic, she enrolled herself in a bunch of other courses from architecture to textile design. All of these courses helped her understand the world of art a little better. 

In 1928, Rani met her soon-to-be husband Himanshu Rai who will eventually help her make history in Bollywood. First helping him out in the production process such as costume designing and art direction she eventually transitioned into acting. She made history with her acting debut as the first lady of Indian cinema with the movie “Karma” in 1933. Receiving rave reviews in the London media and good critical response she was seen as a star with a lot of potentials. It was one of the earliest Indian films to feature a kissing scene. And it was also the first English language talkie made by an Indian. Furthermore, this film featured a bi-lingual song sung by Devika Rani in English and Hindi. This song is credited as being the first English song in a Bollywood film.

Devika Rani: Bombay Talkies & Later Days

Although “Karma” did not get much good reception among the Indian audience it didn’t deter a rising star like Devika Rani. After the critical success of “Karma”, Devika Rani and Himanshu Rai now married, returned to India. They started a film studio named Bombay Talkies partnering with Niranjan Pal and Franz Osten. During those times Bombay Talkies was credited as one of the best-equipped film studios in the country. Launching several stars such as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Mumtaz, etc. it successfully released some of the milestone movies of modern Bollywood. 

One would assume that after starting Bombay Talkies, Devika Rani would take a backseat from the world of acting and focus more on producing. But that assumption was far from being a fact. Bombay Talkies only helped Devika Rani establish herself as an actor. By giving her the freedom to choose which movie she wanted to produce and act in she explored many genres.

By taking on roles of women involved with men who hailed from certain social backgrounds that were not accepted by the social norms of those times, she managed to bring forth social issues such as untouchability. Her films mostly focused on social themes and were tragic romantic dramas. She was highly influenced by German cinema because of her training at the Universum Film AG studio in Berlin. But her acting style was always compared with the Swedish-American actress Greta Garbo. Thus, giving her the nickname, “Indian Garbo”.

Devika Rani: Later Days

After her husband’s death, Devika Rani took over the reign of Bombay Talkies. But despite her best efforts the studio started to decline. And finally, she quit the film industry and married the Russian painter Svetoslav Roerich in 1945. She spent the remainder of her life with her husband in Bengaluru, Karnataka. After buying an estate on the outskirts of the city, the couple lived a very reclusive life.


Known as the “Dragon Lady” for her “smoking, drinking, cursing and hot temper” as mentioned by Tilak Rishi in his book, “Bless You Bollywood!: A tribute to Hindi Cinema on completing 100 years”, Devika Rani was truly a dragon lady who took the centre stage and shone all the time. Although her dressing style was considered risqué for her time she lived her life by being unapologetically herself. She was awarded a Padma Shri in 1958 and was the first-ever recipient of the  Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1969. In 1990 she was honoured with the Soviet Land Nehru Award by Soviet Russia. A play on Devika Rani’s life was directed by Lillette Dubey and was performed at Dindayal Upadhyay Auditorium in Raipur in 2022.   

Taking her last breath in 1994, she taught us all an important lesson. She taught us to march forward and do what feels right to us and history shall remember your name.

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Editor's Pick

The Blue Umbrella: A Delicious Treat With A Wisdom Pill

Is having a brand new thing the most important thing to a child? Yes. But, let Binya remind you what truly matters with her blue umbrella.



The Blue Umbrella, Ruskin Bond, Book Review, TTI Bookshelf

They say childhood is the purest phase of life, but how many of us actually remember that purity? As once pointed out by Nissim Ezekiel in his poem, “Double Horror”, the world corrupts us as we grow up into adults, and we, the byproduct of that corruption corrupt the world back a bit more every day. Thus, as adults, it’s hard to remain pure and genuine in a world hell-bent on corrupting you. It’s for the sake of the world and mostly for our salvation that children continue to remind us constantly of the contentment that follows kindness and Genuity. The tale of “The Blue Umbrella” by Ruskin Bond reminds us of just that and much more.

The Blue Umbrella: A Glimpse

Set in the scenic hills of Garhwal village in Himachal Pradesh, “The Blue Umbrella” tells the tale of Binya (Binyadevi) and her precious blue umbrella. It starts off with Binya enjoying her day as usual. Wandering inside the thick forest Binya finds herself to be most at home in the lap of mother nature. Searching for her cow Neelu, Binya stumbles upon a group of city-dwellers who were there to picnic. Though the city-dwellers brought with them a hoard of things, the one that caught Binya’s eyes was the blue umbrella.

After a small yet mutually beneficial trade, Binya became the proud owner of the most beautiful umbrella in the village. The delicate and beautiful blue umbrella was the envy of every eye. The adult chose to think of all the ways the blue umbrella lacked to help them cope with their envy. While the children chose to speak out their true feelings, which is pure admiration for the beautiful umbrella. Instead of hoping to take the blue umbrella away forever and steal Binya’s joy, all the children wished for was a few moments of joy which came from holding the umbrella after showering Binya with compliments. This brings into light how children though children by age acted more like adults than actual adults.

The Blue Umbrella: How Grown Up Are Grown Ups?

The main turning point in the story comes with Ram Bharosa’s envy of the blue umbrella. The proud tea shop owner of the village tried really hard to get his hands on it. From trying to bribe Binya and his Brother with toffees to bribing them with money, nothing worked. And as he grew desperate he finally gave in to his foolish desires and resorted to stealing. 

Fortunately, his attempt at getting his hands on the blue umbrella failed. But the fact that he actually acted on his morally wrong thoughts made him an outcast in his own village. Surprisingly, it was the one person he tried to steal from who actually empathised with him the most. Binya felt sorrow rather than anger towards Ram Bharosa as she felt somewhere it was her fault for making a grown man act in such a way. 

After a lot of thought Binya left him her precious blue umbrella without asking for anything in return. Understanding that he probably needs it more than she needs it, Binya ended up acting like an adult while being a child. Her act made him realise what really is important which in turn made him do something for Binya as a thank you for reminding him what really matters.  


Though categorised as a children’s book, the book is actually a delightful treat with a wisdom pill hidden in the centre for everyone. It’s a book that highlights the reality of the world, which is age doesn’t always guarantee wisdom. Bringing to life the saying, “a simple act of kindness creates an endless ripple”, this simple tale narrates how one child’s empathy made a grown man realise the true meaning of life. In today’s materialistic world which starts and ends with an endless chase after the shiny new thing, take a step back and sit and read this short story and let Binya remind you what truly matters in life.

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Indian Miniature Art –  Driving you to Say Waah! Kya Baat!

Indian miniature artists left behind a flawless treasure to swear by, come embark on a journey to cherish the marvelous miniatures.



Miniature Paintings, Miniature Art, Indian Art & culture, Art & culture

Indian miniature paintings are small-scale, highly detailed paintings. They take place on a very small scale, using tiny brushes. They originated in India around 750 AD, during the rule of the Pala Empire. Originally painted on palm leaves, miniature paintings had to be made small enough to fit them! These paintings often illustrated religious texts such as the Holy Quran, as well as ancient myths. The paint brushes were mostly made from squirrel hair, which is small enough to capture fine detail. Originally, miniature painters used colors from natural sources like vegetables, precious stones, and gold and silver. Each color had a special purpose. Black was used to provide depth, red for celebration, green for nature, blue for small details and gold leaf for armor, or to mark the head of a divine figure. The most common theme used in the miniature paintings of India comprises the Ragas or a pattern of musical notes, and religious and mythological stories. They are a living tradition with many contemporary artists still pursuing the art form. 

History and Evolution

When miniature paintings originated in India , the religious teachings of the Buddha were written on palm leaves and were accompanied by his images.  As these paintings were done on palm leaves, they had to be miniature in nature because of space constraints. Around 960 A.D, similar paintings portraying religious themes were introduced in the western parts of India by the rulers of the Chalukya Dynasty. The rise of the Mughal Empire brought with it an insane surge in the popularity of miniature paintings. Akbar’s love for art led to the development of an extraordinary combination of Indian miniature paintings with elements of Persian style of painting. This gave rise to the Mughal style of painting which further evolved with the influence of European paintings in the Mughal court.

Famous Schools of Miniature

Pala School, dating back to the 8th century A.D. has the earliest miniature paintings. This school of painting emphasized on the symbolic use of colors and the themes were often taken from the Buddhist tantric rituals. The Orissa School of miniature painting flourished during the 17th century A.D. They displayed the love stories of Radha and Krishna and also stories from ‘Krishna Leela’ and ‘Gita Govinda’.

Pala School of Miniature Paintings

The Jain School of painting being one of the oldest, gained prominence in the 11th century A.D when religious texts like ‘Kalpa Sutra’ and ‘Kalkacharya Katha’ were portrayed in the form of miniature paintings. It portrayed enlarged eyes, square shaped hands and stylish figures.

Lustration of the Infant Jina Mahavira: Folio from a Kalpasutra Manuscript –

The coming together of Indian paintings and Persian miniature paintings gave rise to the Mughal School of miniature painting. The Mughal style of painting flourished under the reign of Akbar and majorly depicted scenes from the royal court, hunting expeditions, wildlife and battles.

Mughal School of Miniatrure Paintings

Rajasthani School of painting was further divided into various schools. Each Rajputana kingdom had its own distinct style with a few common features. From depicting stories from the Ramayana and the royal lifestyle of kings and queens to portraying the legacy of present and past rulers, they had it all.

Bhagavata Purana via Wikimedia

Pahari School of miniature painting emerged in the 17th century A.D. These paintings originated in the kingdoms of North India, in the Himalayan region. The portrayal of gods and goddesses is one of the most common features of the Pahari School of miniature painting. The scenic beauty of the Himalayas was also often depicted in these paintings.

Krishna et Râdhâ via Wikimedia

The Deccan School of miniature painting flourished in places like Ahmednagar, Golconda, Tanjore, Hyderabad and Bijapur from 16th to 19th century A.D. The Deccan School of miniature painting was largely influenced by the rich traditions of the Deccan and the religious beliefs of Turkey, Persia and Iran.

The young Ibrahim Adil Shah II hawking via Wikimedia

Miniature Paintings Now

Even after the decline of the Mughal Empire, miniature paintings and artists were patronized by the Rajput rulers of Rajasthan. Most of these miniature paintings depicted the lifestyle of kings and queens, the  mythological stories of Lord Krishna and Radha and also narrated tales of bravery. Though most of the miniature paintings were anonymous, there were a few remarkable artists who left behind a name. Some renowned artists included Mir Sayyid Ali, Nainsukh, Manaku and Miskin. Today, a lot of miniature paintings are preserved in museums and in old Rajasthani forts. The art is kept alive in a few regions in India under the patronage of royal families. Miniature paintings hold an unparalleled place in Indian history, glorifying the culture of India, its essence will always prevail.

Orissa School of Miniature Paintings
Image Courtesy – Twitter
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Editor's Pick

Rashtrakavi M. Govinda Pai: A Passionate Literary Enthusiast

It’s often said that with fame comes arrogance and a loss of passion, but Rashtrakavi M. Govinda Pai would surely like to differ.



Govinda Pai, Rashtrakavi, Poet, M. Govinda Pai

How can you define passion? If it’s a feeling then how do we define it? How do we classify some as having less passion than others? They say there are certain traits of passion. One of them is the inability to stop thinking about the thing you are truly passionate about. And if we are going by this one trait, then M. Govinda Pai will certainly end up ranking higher in the list of the most passionate people in the world.

M. Govinda Pai: Life At A Glance

Born on 23 March 1883 Manjeshwar Govinda Pai or M. Govinda Pai was the first son of Sahukaar Thimmappa Pai and Devaki Amma. A prolific poet, playwright, linguist and researcher of Karnataka, he started showing his affinity towards languages and using them as a medium of expression at a very tender age. Even at the age of 13, his taste in books was so developed that he started subscribing to many literary journals. And his teacher Panje Mangesh Rao used to borrow many of these literary journals from him.

He was a brilliant Kannada poet who experimented with a lot of different styles of writing. His experiments ranged from blank verses to sonnets to epic poems. Being unable to understand the need to use rhyme in poetry he tried to seek answers for the very same. He did not receive a satisfactory reply to his query. But he continued to adhere to this rule of poetry till 1911. After making up his mind to not use rhymes in his poems Govinda Pai published his poem, “Holeyanu Yaru” without rhyme in “Swadeshabhimani”. When faced with criticism regarding his new style of poetry Govinda Pai presented the examples of English writers, Surrey, Wyatt, Shakespeare and Milton to emphasise his point that it is up to the poet to decide whether they want to use rhyme or not.

Being a polyglot did come in handy on many occasions for Govinda Pai. His proficiency in a plethora of languages helped him understand the source material better. This aided him in his research pursuits and other literary endeavours. Best known for his epic poem, “Golgotha” (The last days of Christ, published in 1937), Govinda Pai apparently learnt Hebrew to acquaint himself with the source material.

M. Govinda Pai: Fame & Glory

Apart from Golgatha Govinda Pai is also well-known for his works such as “Vaisakhi” (The last days of Buddha), “Hebberalu” (The Thumb, the story of Ekalavya retold), “Chitrabhanu” (based on the Quit India Movement), etc. His first published work was called “Gommata Jinastuti”. 

For his outstanding contribution to the literary world, he was conferred with the title of Rashtrakavi by the Maharaja of Bhawanagar the then Governor of Madras State in 1949. In 1951, he was chosen to preside over the Kannada Sahitya Sammelana in Bombay. Despite having such a glorious reputation he was always modest about his achievements. In order to honour his contributions, a national award was instituted in his name on his 125th birth anniversary. With the objective to guide PhD students doing research on language, literature, culture, folk, art and history focusing on the coastal region, preparing a dictionary in the Tulu language, and researching the Konkani language and culture, the Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai Research Centre was established at Udupi in 1965. 


From experimenting with different poetry styles to introducing the sonnet form in Kannada, Govinda Pai was an extraordinary individual. He garnered a lot of attention and accolades for his impeccable skills. Yet he always managed to remain humble and down to earth. For him, the only reason he kept venturing forward on his path of language and cultural exploration was because of his sheer passion towards those subjects.

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Editor's Pick

Finding Home And Identity: The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

Glimpsing through ‘The Namesake’, the 2003 debut novel of the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri.



Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake, TTI Bookshelf, Book Review, Book Review The Nakesake

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is a poignant work of the nostalgic yearning for a home in a person, in a place, in a country, or even your own name. It is a story stitched together with plain, simple characters, embedded with daily mundanity, strangeness, and rootlessness of life, and yet Lahiri’s writing style, and her unique perception to the threads of life is what makes her debut novel, ‘The Namesake’ so appraised and widely acclaimed. The novel revolves around a Bengali married couple, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguly, and their son, Gogol, who move from Kolkata to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the 1960’s.

Summary: A Glimpse Within

As the story opens, we’re introduced to the arranged marriage of Ashoke and Ashima. Fast forward, the newly wed is trying to settle in a new country, away from the hustle bustle of the hub of art, films, and culture, of Kolkata. Soon after, Ashima gets pregnant. Ashoke names their son, ‘Gogol’, after the Russian writer, Nikolai Gogol, whose pages saved him from a deadly train accident. He realizes that “being rescued from that shattered train had been the first miracle of his life” and his baby “reposing in his arms” is the second miracle.

As Gogol grows up, he faces a multitude of mocking by his peers because of his unusual name. His own name causes him to rift with his own identity, personality and being. The story is further immersed in the lives of the Gangulys and their individual efforts at rooting their presence in the foreign world. While for Ashima and Ashoke, Massachusetts isn’t home, for Gogol, it is his only home.

As Gogal enters his teen years, he starts pulling away from his Indian culture, which undeniably causes a cavity between him and his parents. Lack of understanding and animosity sprouted between Ashoke and Gogol. Lahiri navigates the later story with an adult Gogol, changing his legal name, relationships, getting married, divorce, etc., to make it to the universities and his own apartment in Manhattan as an architect, which of course was miles away from his parent’s rigid identity as Bengalis and rooted in the myriad Indian rituals.

Jhumpa Lahiri Writes Magically

What makes this novel a must read is Jhumpa Lahiri’s beautiful writing and her sheer effortlessness at brimming her story with just the right scoop of details. The pages of the novel run with a believable, real life story. Nothing in the novel or her lyrical writing style seems artificial or made up. The story marks three generations of the life of Gogol, and it simply, yet poignantly, encompasses his hopes, dreams, sorrows and constant battle with identifying his own self.

Another reason why the novel doesn’t seem made up is because The Namesake becomes a space for Lahiri to release her own heartfelt pouring of cultural rootlessness and struggles of assimilation as an immigrant herself. Another autobiographical element of the novel lies heavily in our protagonist’s name. Jhumpa, in one of the interviews, had shared that she had to endlessly explain to peers and strangers alike how to pronounce her name, which made her uncomfortable and distressed. Time and again in the novel, we keep coming back to Gogol’s name, even after he has legally changed his name to Nikhil Ganguly. Jhumpa makes you see an identity of a person through a different plane and what importance the name can carry to an individual, especially in a foreign land.

Read and peek closely at the sentences and words of The Namesake, and you’ll find an exceptionally beautiful story. 

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