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Published by: ramchinna on Jul 03, 2009
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NARASIMHA MURTHY’S comprehensive, comparative critique of the pioneering, crusading, modern, progressive Telugu play, Kanyasulkam, authored in the last decade of the 19th century by Gurajada Venkata Apparao Panthulu fondly referred to as Gurujada, the litterateur-laureate of the former Princely State of Vizianagaram, elevates Kanyasulkam to the status of an epic play. This is a work of social protest in fiction, against an age–old practice of child-marriage prevailing in those days in society, particularly among the orthodox Brahmin families. A great social reformer, the author very effectively argued against the evil system to some good effect. While decrying the old system he did not spare either the modern cheating of innocent young women. His racy style with a sprinkling of humour and sarcasm, makes it a powerful work of literature. In his in-depth study, Murthy has made extensive examination of play writing in several Indian languages and the West in the 19th century, drawing parallels with this play and their influence on Gurajada . The original play “Kanya Sulkamu” first staged in 1892, appeared in print in 1897, when it drew several commendations from the press and others terming it “a new and bold departure in Telugu dramatic composition.” V. R. Narla, eminent playwright and critic found it “a play of irresistible charm, of perennial interest… really as large as life and twice as natural.” The 724-page volume, in eight chapters, is the first and most extensive reassessment of Gurajada’s masterly work. It will be a boon to research scholars and students of Telugu literature. Narasimha Murthy deserves kudos for this painstaking purposeful and substantive work.

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