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A Tribute to : The Legendary multifaceted personality Late Sri. Kudpi Vasudev Shenoy

Submitted by on September 18, 2017 – 8:18 PM2 Comments

ಮಂಗಳೂರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಟ್ಟಿ ಬೆಳೆದ ನಾನು. ಚಿಕ್ಕಂದಿನಿಂದ ದಿ.ಕುಡ್ಪಿ ವಾಸುದೇವ ಶೆಣೈ ಅವರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕೇಳಿ ಪಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೆ, ಅವರು ಬರೆದ ಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳನ್ನು ಓದಿ ಬೆಳೆದವರು ನಾವು, ನಮ್ಮ ಗೌಡ ಸಾರಸ್ವತ ಸಮಾಜದ ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಗಣ್ಯ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇವರು ಒಬ್ಬರು. ಜಿ.ಎಸ್.ಬಿ. ಸಮಾಜಕ್ಕೆ ತಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನವನ್ನು ಮುಡಿಪಾಗಿಟ್ಟವರು. ಈ ಸಮಾಜಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಅವರ ಕೊಡುಗೆ ಅಪಾರವಾದದ್ದು ಹಾಗು ಅತಿ ಶ್ಲಾಘನೀಯ. ಇಂತಹ ಮಹಾನ್ ಪುರುಷ ಜನಿಸಿರುವ ನಮ್ಮ ಸಮಾಜಕ್ಕೆ ತುಂಬಾ ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ ತರುವ ವಿಷಯ. ಈ ಮಹಾಪುರುಷರ ನೆನಪಿಗಾಗಿ ನನ್ನ ಈ ಕಿರು ಕಾಣಿಕೆ.

Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy – A Legend of His Own Times

This is a tribute to my father Late Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy on his 110th Birth Anniversary, based on the article that I had written two years ago in Kannada, part of which has been published in the book “Mangaluru Darshana” jointly published by the DC of Dakshina Kannada, Mayor of Mangaluru City Corporation and Chairman of MUDA.

This article covers the life and times of Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy with inputs from my sister Dr. Veena Isloor and my brothers Srikanth, Kamalakanth and Radhakanth.The incidents and narrations are true to the best of my knowledge, and the article is written without prejudice to anyone mentioned within, living or dead.

– Kudpi Rajanikanth Shenoy
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Undivided Dakshina Kannada District has produced great writers, journalists and playwrights over the last century. One man was a legend of his own times, having inculcated all those three abilities, dedicating his entire life for the field of literature. He is none other than my father, Late Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy, who kindled a spark of humour in every story that he wrote, incited a penchant for reading among the readers of his articles, in other words, he can very well be called as “PG Wodehouse of Kannada literature”.
Apart from small booklets of 16 to 32 pages named ‘Ondaanemaale’ and his own brainchild ‘Prabhat’ weekly Kannada newspaper which he published until his last breath; he also wrote, directed and staged many dramas that ran for 100’s of successful shows during the Nineteen Sixties. His dedication to Kannada literature was like a red feather in the crown of Mangaluru city. No wonder, his creativity, his vision, his perfection, his hard work, his workmanship and his success are fine examples not only for his generation, but also for the generations to come.

Birth, Childhood, Education:

Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy’s family hailed from Kudpi or Kudupu near Mangaluru town, later settled down in Mangaluru indulging in trading about Three Centuries ago. Yet, the family is renowned as ‘Kudpi Shenoy family’.

On August 29 1907, a boy child was born to a couple settled in Karangalpady, Kudpi Narasimha Shenoy and Kalyani Bai. Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy, popularly known as ‘Kudpi’, was the third among the children and the eldest surviving son. His elder brother Madhava succumbed to Typhoid and he also lost his father when he was just 12. With the help of his maternal uncle advocate Adige Varadaraja Shenoy, he completed his schooling up to 4th Form or SSLC. He was not lucky enough to study further or complete college education, since he had the responsibility of looking after his mother and his younger siblings. Thus he went in search of a decent job and was employed as proof reader in Prabhakar Press Udupi.

Though he didn’t have college education, he was a voracious reader. He found a treasure of books in his uncle’s house and he read them all. Thus he improved his general knowledge and developed passion for literature. During his school times, he was active in writing and dramas. His teacher MN Kamath was impressed by his talents and he had presented him his fountain pen and told him, “With this pen, write good stories, and be a famous writer!”

“My father had kept that pen intact in his safe keeping until his last breath”, reminisces Kudpi’s daughter Dr. Veena Isloor.

Marriage, Family Life:

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Kudpi married Ramabai, youngest daughter of school master from Bantwal Krishna Shenoy and Radha Bai in the year 1936. The couple had 8 children. Eldest was daughter, Dr. Veena Isloor who studied MBBS in Christian Medical College Vellore, settled with her husband Dr. Suresh Isloor in Shivamogga with own nursing home by name Sahyadri Hospital since last 52 years. Kudpi always wanted his daughter to be well educated, and the way he looked forward keenly to her return with Medical graduation is still remembered by his younger children.

Among the other 7 male children, with the untimely demise of Chandrakanth, the eldest one in 1958, the next eldest son Shashikanth worked as Manager in Bank of India, took Voluntary retirement, graduated in astrology with gold medal, practicing astrology as a freelancer. Second one Srikanth studied Engineering at KREC (present NITK), joined Syndicate Bank and served as Divisional Manager before availing VRS and continuing further as professional consultant for Banking finance and valuation for 17 years and has retired fully from his profession since last 4 years. Third son Dr. Krishnakanth has settled in England as a Psychiatrist. Fourth is Dr. Kamalakanth, who is a Dental Surgeon by profession and also professor in Yenepoya Dental College. Fifth is Dr. Radhakanth, a Radiation Oncologist at present practicing in Barbados, West Indies. I, Rajanikanth am the youngest son, have worked for Syndicate Bank for 22 years and opted for VRS to start Multimedia profession, now a freelance media person.

Kudpi groomed up all his children well, gave them good education, inculcated good manners and made them fine citizen. The moral stories, anecdotes, riddles and words of wisdom he used to quote, the guidance and encouragement he used to give, has worked wonders in making his children successfully settle down in life and reminisce over the good times they had with their father. Though Kudpi didn’t accumulate wealth or buy properties, his children have maintained the books, furniture and artifacts from his collection in immaculate condition even today in his memory.

All the children have inherited writing abilities from their father. They have written articles, stories and got them published in various books, magazines, journals and web portals. ‘Deepavali’, a short drama written by the eldest son Chandrakanth and ‘Birbalana Jaanme’ by Shashikanth (KuSha) have been published by Kudpi in his Ondaanemaale publications.

Following the footsteps of my great father, I have assumed the pen name ‘Kudpi Raj’, published my father’s books, dramas and stories in e-book format and distributed them free.
I have also written many stories, poems, dramas, produced and directed radio plays, edited and produced youtube videos and TV documentary and ad films, I have also made radio plays of Kudpi’s Konkani dramas ‘Dolyaan Khelu’ and Bhangrachi Goddadi’. My mother had saved Kudpi’s collection of books and manuscripts until her last breath in February 2014, and now I have them in my possession and care.

Soon after losing his eldest son Chandrakanth, a grief stricken Kudpi was clueless about shifting his residence to some other house. Then Rathnavarma Heggade, Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala came to his help and he offered a big bungalow with 8 rooms that he had constructed next to his official residence ‘Veera Bhavana’ in the prestigious Ballal Bagh area of Mangaluru on a very nominal rent of Rs.50/- for 4 months. After the completion of 4 months, Kudpi was ready to vacate that house, but Rathnavarma Heggade allowed him to stay there indefinitely, as he had dropped the idea of making that house a choultry. Thus Kudpi continued to stay in that house for the next 16 years on a rent of Rs.65/- per month! When the next Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade asked him to vacate the house and let it for opening Law College, Kudpi vacated the house in 1974 and moved to his son Srikanth’s newly constructed house in Mannagudda.

Kudpi not only loved his own children, he also cared for neighbourhood kids like his own. Whenever he visited Mumbai with his work, he used to bring goodies like peppermint, biscuits, pen, pencil, eraser, toys and games and also distributed them among the neighbourhood kids and felt contented to see them happy.

Kudpi never looked back or calculated money when it came to running the home. He was a good philosopher and guide, a father figure to his naive wife Ramabai, who was almost half his age during their wedding. He taught her the significance of maintaining the home clean and neat, groom up the children, cook good food and also help their neighbours in case of need. Whenever she wanted entertainment, he arranged for a taxi to drop and pick her from the cinema hall and also provided an escort to take care of her. Though Kudpi never stepped into the kitchen or cooked anything in his life, he used to guess the ingredients and methods of cooking rare dishes that he used to taste in restaurants and guide his wife to make them exactly the way he wanted them! In the mid Sixties when cooking gas was first introduced by Esso Gas in Mangaluru, he was one of the few who got a connection for home, so that his wife could manage without the hassle of lighting kerosene or charcoal stove.

In 1959 he purchased a new National Ekco 8 Band Radio for the entertainment of his family members. He also purchased a Hercules bicycle for his son Shashikanth to reach Government College on time, during his BCom studies.

My brother Kamalakanth reminisces, “In the year 1964, Kasturi Bar Soap had organized a competition. Prize winners were announced in the papers and the final round was in Bangalore. My father was one of the judges and father took me by bus along with him to Bangalore, so that I can also see the city and enjoy the trip. On our way back, we took the Dakota flight from Bangalore to Mangalore. That was my first experience of traveling by air. In my 7th standard, not many had seen a plane as yet! That flight was most memorable, and that shows my father’s concern for the comfort and joy of his children!”

Kudpi’s office was in Car Street, opposite Balaji Cinema. During festivals, Kudpi used to facilitate women and children to sit in his office and watch the festivity through the window overlooking Car Street. He also used to arrange for snacks and beverages from Taj Mahal and Komal Vilasa for them. Since mango was dear to all in the family, during summer he used to purchase variety of mangoes from one Fakir Byari by the baskets, bring them home and keep them on hay for ripening. A rare variety by name ‘Kempu Size’ used to be acquired in full lot every year from Fakir Byari!

My mother Ramabai was a loyal wife to Kudpi. She used to prepare all his favourite dishes whenever he demanded. She also used to prepare 4 cups of tea and store it in a flask for him to consume during late hours when he sat down to write on the veranda. One night as Kudpi was writing something, he smelled something burning and to his worse fears, the back room of the house was on fire! A domestic helper woman had carelessly dumped cinder along with ash from the bathroom kiln in a cane basket, that caught fire and the fire spread to the woodwork of the roof! Kudpi hurriedly woke up Ramabai and her nephew Damodar who was staying in our home for his graduation. The three of them worked together, drew water from the well and put off the fire without much ado. Next morning, as D. Puttaswamy the neighbour asked about burnt smell, Kudpi hushed up giving reasons that it was just the cane basket that caught the fire and emanated the burnt smell. He also ensured that the wife and children maintained secrecy about it and also got the burnt wooden beams replaced without much ado!

Though he lived in a mansion like house on a rent of just Rs.65/- per month, he used to spend a lot for maintaining it. He used to get it painted every three years and also get essential repairs done periodically without thinking twice about the expenses. I still remember that Harshendra Kumar, younger brother of Veerendra Heggade had specially mentioned about my father and appreciated his concern for maintenance of the house, during the inauguration of Syndicate Bank branch in that house in 1998.

Personality, Routine:

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5 feet 6 inches tall, small build, longish face, wheat complexion, always wore clean white Muslin Dhoti and Cream colour Kurta with fine cotton material from Shurrock Mills, and a Gandhi cap over the head, dignified look and gait, straight talk and action, movement as slick as mercury, slightly short tempered, in other words a no nonsense man; these are the qualities that highlighted the personality of Kudpi.

He always followed Gandhian and Buddhist philosophy. He wore Khaddar for decades before and after the Independence. He always believed in introspection before correcting others.
I have never seen him beat any of us children when we committed mistakes or played mischief. At the most he might have scolded us and told us to leave the house, but the very next moment he would call us, make us sit by his side and explain the importance of good and refined manners, need for hard work to achieve our goals and a distant vision to be successful in life.

His inimitable style of narrating humour with a serious look and a smile following the narration was not easy for most of his contemporaries to imitate. He never looked down upon the poor and the needy. He always helped them in time of need monetarily and morally. He had the rare quality of adjusting to different types of people irrespective of their social and financial status, if not their knowledge level. Cleanliness, simplicity, honesty, perfection, command over the three main languages English, Kannada and Konkani, proper usage of grammar, variety in his write-up, were his hallmark and thus he became very popular as a writer, journalist during his times.

Kudpi was also very meticulous about his food habits. He maintained a steady 133 Pounds (60 Kgs) body weight always. He rarely fell ill, and as far as I remember, during my 20 years with him, I saw him falling ill only twice or thrice. His tolerance to pain and suffering was a puzzle even to his close friend, our family physician Dr, B. R. Hegde! He had the knowledge of medicine and he mostly took self medication in times of minor ailments. When our sister Veena was a school going child and she had Typhoid after the Second World War, she had bleak chances of surviving. Those days most of the doctors would give some concoction or home remedy to such deadly ailments and ask the family members to pray for the recovery of the patient! In such trauma, Dr. B.R. Hegde said, “Kudpi there is a new wonder drug in the market by name Chloromycetin, which can cure typhoid. Why not try that? Two capsules cost Rs.45/-. She should be administered 3 capsules a day for 5 days and she may recover. Why don’t we take a chance?”

Those days, for 45 Rupees a family of 10 people could sustain for a month! Kudpi never looked back and he gave his consent. Thus our sister recovered from Typhoid and today she is 79 year old practicing doctor who has cured thousands of women and children with her treatment and care!

His daily routine started with waking up at sharp 6:00am, after the morning rituals, he would take a walk around the house and check if things were alright. Then he would dust the furniture, polish his favourite porcelain ‘Shiva Bust’, light a ‘Punugu Ambar’ or ‘Sugandha Shringar’ agarbatti, then switch on the radio and tune in Radio Ceylon for old film songs at 7:45am. Then he used to sit on the floor with his shaving kit and start shaving as he nodded his head to K.L.Saigal songs that broadcast at exactly 7:57am, I would run and reach the radio room to sit by his side and watch him make funny faces at me, nod his head to Saigal’s song and make me laugh! Wonderful days indeed!

Then he would have a cold shower with his favourite Malabar Glory, Cinthol or Mysore Sandal Soap, sip a cup of tea and smoke a cigarette as he read the daily Kannada and English newspapers sitting comfortably in his easy chair. Exactly at 9:15am, he used to have his breakfast, change his dress and walk to the nearest bus stop in Lalbagh carrying his office bag and wait for the route no.8 bus that ran from Karnataka Polytechnic to Hampankatta via Car Street. If he missed that bus, he never looked back and he would walk all the way to Car Street to reach his office. At times when he felt that he was late, he would catch an autorickshaw and reach his office.

His close friends Manel Srinivas Nayak (MLA) and Manel Krishna Nayak of MA Krishna Nayak & Co or his cousin Kudpi Vishwanath R Shenoy of Om Mahal sometimes dropped him to office or back home. After spending the morning hours in office, he used to come home at 2:00pm for lunch, take a short nap, have a cup of tea at 3:30 and return to office at 4:00pm.
He would work until late evening and close his office at around 8:00pm, head straight for Studio Balco owned by his best friend S.R. Balgopal, meet like minded friends including B. V. Baliga there and spend over an hour in a discussion always leading to riot of fun, humour and laughter, and by the time he returned home for dinner, it would be 9:30 or 10:00pm.

His daily routine does not end there! He spent time until late hours reading books and writing stories, dramas and articles for his paper past 2:00am. No signs of sleeping a wink, for enough tea would be ready in a flask on one side, thanks to his faithful life partner Rama Bai, and his daily dose of beedies and cigarettes along with an ash tray on the other, for inspiration and to stay alert!

This late night habit of his went to extremes at times, and one early morning at 5:00am, our neighbour D. Puttaswamy saw the light in the verandah still on, and he curiously asked, “Did you wake up early, Mr. Kudpi?” My father coolly told him that he never slept a wink, and he didn’t even realize about it, since he was deeply engrossed in writing something!

Because of his straight forward nature and denial to obligations, he refused to use his influence with the then Education Minister C. Subrahmanyam of Madras Province to get easy medical seat for his daughter Veena at Vellore. She later got it on merit. Kudpi never tried for back door entry anytime in his life!

My brother Kamalakanth has a different story to share. He used to look after father’s press and office from Sixth standard until he completed PUC. He also used to help father according to his abilities. One day father had to go somewhere, and he told Kamalakanth to stay until he returned. So, Kamalakanth just sat there, waiting for father to return.
Clock turned Eight, Eight Thirty, Nine, Nine Thirty. There was no sign of father returning! Kamalakanth didn’t take liberties, fearing that father might scold him if he moved out of his office. Finally he received father’s phone call at 10:00pm and asked him what he was doing until late hours in the office! Then Kamalakanth sighed in relief, gained courage, left the office and went home. Knowing father’s strict nature, all the children obeyed as he instructed and never went against his orders!

Many people visited our home to see Kudpi. Mostly on Sundays when he was in the bathroom taking showers, I would hurriedly call him aloud, saying someone was waiting to meet him. Then he would shout back and say “Let them wait for a while. They have come for their work, not to help me. I am half way through bathing. I can not come out right now. Ask them to sit and wait for me!”

Religious views:

Though Kudpi believed in existence of god and followed religious rites because he was born in an orthodox GSB family, he never gave scope for blind belief. He had his office in Car Street close to the Venkatramana Temple, and his daily gesture was just folding his hands and bowing his head while passing by the temple. He avoided participating in the annual Rathotsava feast at the temple but his friend Harekal Ramachandra Pai (Ramanna) used to bring him the temple feast packed in tiffin carrier and he relished it in his office.

Sometimes when a seer of any popular mutt visited Mangaluru, he used to go along with his cousin Kudpi Vishwanath. R. Shenoy and receive the seer at the airport and drop them to a local temple or mutt. He also used to attend the sermons by such seers in professional interest and publish feature report in his weekly newspaper Prabhat. He also used to perform the annual Krishnashtami pooja at home in the presence of Pandit Venkatesh Acharya of Acharya Mutt Car Street. Whenever Acharya chanted some mantra or shloka that was not clearly understood, Kudpi used to stop him and ask the full meaning of that shloka in Konkani. He was a non believer in astrology and palmistry. He has described pretty well about the fraud that happens in the name of astrology, in a satirical story in his Ondaanemaale publication by name ‘Jataka Pathana’.

He was also against unnecessary and wasteful expenditure on weddings and functions. He celebrated his only daughter Veena’s wedding without much glitter, inviting a limited crowd of only nears and dears but arranged for sumptuous feast during the wedding, as he was a connoisseur of good food. He had celebrated all his sons’ Brahmopadesham at home in the presence of only family members.

Journalism:

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After working for two years in Prabhakar Press, Kudpi joined Kanteerava paper as co-editor. He also worked as co-editor of ‘Rashtrabandhu’ and ‘Swadeshabhimaani’, thus contributed in his own way for the freedom movement. In 1935 he established his own newspaper ‘Prabhat’, printed and published it at the City Press and reached the summit of success. Prabhat office functioned on the upstairs of the premises by the corner of Car Street opposite Balaji Talkies for 42 years until he breathed his last. Prabhat paper was a decent publication circulated throughout the West Coast reputed for value based content. He never gave scope for yellow journalism or pornography. Many noted writers contributed articles in Prabhat. Kudpi also covered latest news from Bombay film world and published that with colour plates in special issues of Prabhat, thus gave a glitter of modernisation to Kannada journalism during those days in the Forties and the Fifties.

My brother Srikanth knows in and out about Kudpi’s struggle to establish the press and shift it to different places over the years. In the year 1940, Kudpi started a public limited company named Prabhat Printers Limited and he was the Managing Director. He printed not only Prabhat paper and his other publications there; he also undertook printing of other publications such as Manmohan Kamath’s ‘Sandhyadeepa’ and V.J.P. Saldanha’s ‘Kannadavani’ papers for some time in the Sixties. The press functioned in a house in Sundar Rao’s Compound opposite Mission High School until 1967. Though he shifted it to a small building on Azizuddin Road opposite City Press, suddenly in 1969 the owner of that building sold it to a new party and that new owners evicted the press overnight in pouring rain. Kudpi underwent heavy loss due to printing machines, papers and types getting washed in the heavy monsoon showers, but he never lost courage. His closest friend S.R. Balgopal came to his help and he joined as a director and saved Kudpi from the trouble of finding a new shed or godown. They shifted the belongings to a godown and then took a land on lease behind Besant College on MG Road. There they built a shed and continued printing Prabhat paper there until 1977. Mr. Balgopal didn’t think twice before investing in the company as a director, rather he acted as a saviour because his close friend was in an almost devastated condition!

Kudpi’s sons assisted him during school/college vacation by working in his office and press, proof reading, book binding, pinning etc. My elder brothers still recall having earned some pocket money as well as appreciation from father for the work they did those days in the Fifties and Sixties. In the mid Fifties, my first three brothers Chandrakanth, Shashikanth and Srikanth came out with a hand written illustrated children’s magazine in 200 page note books, resembling Chandamama and Balamitra. They called it ‘Jnanodaya’ and circulated them among their neighbourhood boys and earned some money. They published such 10 issues in three years, an achievement perhaps unparalleled by any boys of their age then!

Special issues of Prabhat exceeded 200 pages, carrying a feast of colourful feature articles, stories, dramas and poems. Not just film world, they highlighted achievers with pictures, write up and pictures on Dharmasthala, also extensive coverage on commercial activities of Mangaluru. Thus Prabhat had international standards when it came to coverage and looks! Kudpi was a close ally of Manjayya Heggade and Rathnavarma Heggade of Dharmasthala. He was in charge of the Exhibition held in 1957 at Dharmasthala during the ‘25th
Sarva Dharma Sammelana’, he managed it very well and also published a souvenir to commemorate the event. He printed and distributed colour photos of the Manjunatha Temple and the various monuments of Dharmasthala with the help of Balco Studio.

V.S. Kudva recognized and highly commended the journalistic abilities within Kudpi and he appointed Kudpi as the founder editor of ‘Navabharata’ which he founded in 1942.
Navabharata was the most circulated Kannada daily in coastal Karnataka during those days. Kudpi also suggested the character and the name ‘Shinganna’ to Raghu (Kanneppadi Ramakrishna), the cartoonist of Navabharata.

Kudpi also established a weekly paper exclusively for women by name ‘Suvasini’. Varija Devi and Mohini Devi were the editors of that paper. Thus Kudpi openly supported and empowered women during olden days! He also published many articles by women in Prabhat.

In ‘Basiga’, the souvenir of Dakshina Kamnnada Jilla Sahitya Sammelana held at Karkala, Kudpi has written in detail about the growth of journalism, in an article ‘Journalism in Dakshina Kannada District’. Those trained by Kudpi in his Prabhat paper and press started their own and prospered. B.V. Baliga was a close ally of Kudpi. He not only wrote articles in Prabhat, he started his Konkani magazine ‘Panchkadaayi’ under guidance from Kudpi. Kudpi taught him the right usage of Konkani in journalism and encouraged him to run the magazine smoothly.

As circulation of his brainchild ‘Prabhat’ started diminishing by late Sixties, Kudpi started to face financial crisis, but he never accepted defeat. He printed and published it until his last breath. He never ran it just to make a profit. He wanted good Kannada articles and news reach Kannadigas in Mumbai, also encouraged many young writers to come into limelight. Since Mumbai had more readers of Prabhat, every year during Republic Day, Independence Day, Dasara and Deepavali, he came out with special edition of Prabhat.
With the income from advertisements, he looked well after the family members’ needs. Though he printed and sent just 224 issues of Prabhat by post durng the last few years, he never lost zest or courage. He never showed disappointment. Though the elder four children had settled well by the time he became older, he never sought their help or depend on them for his expenses. He raised his income from advertisement funding for Prabhat.

Stories, Essays, Literature:

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Since the day he started Prabhat weekly until the Nineteen Sixties, Kudpi wrote hundreds of humour stories, anecdotes and essays. ‘Jeevanada Sogasu’ written in 1935 was his first article. He also compiled the articles that he wrote in Prabhat weekly from time to time and published two such compilations with short stories, namely ‘Meere Mattu Naanu’, ‘Japan Belaku mattu Itara Kathegalu’ in 1948. In 1949 he published the essays ‘Malegaalada Sapnagalu’ and ‘Aayaasavillada Ogatugalu’ in the form of books.

‘Meera Mattu Naanu’ has 15 humour writeups that revolve around a cool husband and his restless wife narrating the funny incidents that happen in their daily life. The hero in those stories is always positive in his thoughts and actions with high tolerance for questions and utmost patience to answer them. Meera is a modern woman with tomboyish nature, nagging, short tempered and adamant. The dialogues between them can incite a roar of laughter among the readers, imagining the scenes that happen in a typical local family, their arguments, blow hot and blow cold. There is never a day when Meera and her husband do not argue and fight. There is no evidence, that following the fight they stop talking with one another and get separated. Everything happens within a day and ends overnight after which, both get rejuvenated for a new fight!

‘Japan Belaku Mattu Itara Kathegalu’ has 16 humour stories. One can find similarities between the characters in these stories and Sir P.G. Wodehouse’s stories. Yet, these stories highlight the lifestyle, culture and traditions of our town, if not word play and witty dialogues, which Kudpi has cleverly adapted in them.

‘Kasada Dabbigalu’ is a compilation of 24 essays. Every character and the situation if not the place, seem rather realistic and not give scope to believe that they are fictitious. One can very well sense the strong whiff of contemporary Kannada literature at its best, if not sharp witted crisp dialogues in these essays.

Kudpi has published 348 Ondaanemaale books from 1954 until the1960’s. The very first book published in the Ondaanemaale series is ‘Keppateraaya’ by Kudpi’s teacher M.N. Kamath.
Last one is ‘Angulimala’ by K. Bhoja Poojary. Those noted writers who contributed to Ondaanemaale include M.N. Kamath, Rashtrakavi M. Govinda Pai, B. Shankara Bhat, B.M. Sharma, M. Subrayan, A. V. Mayya, Balkur Subraya Adiga, Ammembal Ananthayya Navada, Rasika Puttige, Navagiri Nanda, Ambatanaya Mudradi, B. Padmanabha Somayaji, T. Chandraraja Shetty Siddakatte, ‘Vichitra’ Aetadka, Dr. S. P. Bhat, Dr. T. P. Bhat, L.S. Nayak, S. L. Sharma Kasargod, Padaaru Mahabaleshwara Bhat, K. N. Bhat Shiradipal, B. Eshwarayya, Vaidyaguru M. R. Bhat, D. Puttaswamy, K. Venkatarayacharya Surathkal, Gundmi Mahabala Bhat, Venkataraja Puninchattaaya, K. S. Karanth, Naralamatha Anantha Upadhyaya and many others. Kudpi also gave shelter to many upcoming young writers.

Among the books Kudpi authored in Ondaanemaale, there are short stories, moral stories, humour, if not dramas. His most selling books were ‘Panditana Piteelu Mattu Itara Kathegalu’, ‘Jatakapathana Mattu Itara Kathegalu’, ‘Ee Yugada Thenkaara Kumara’, ‘Saahasada Kathegalu’ and ‘Huchhu Kathegalu’. Apart from short stories, he also wrote short plays that became famous, such as ‘Satyavanta Baabi’, ‘Baabige Baasinga’, ‘Naareeshwararu’, and ‘Chunaavane Arthaat Banaavane’. Then there were books on general knowledge and travelogues including ‘Aesopana Neeti Kathegalu’, ‘Vinoda Vihaara’, ‘Pradhaanaamaatya Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’, ‘Namma Desha’, ‘Namma Kannada Naadu’, ‘Sarvajnana Vachanagalu’,
‘Sri Kanakadaasara Bhajanaageetegalu” and of course the unabridged ‘Srimad Bhagavadgite’ sold for One Anna, which he published with financial sponsorship from D. Puttaswamy and Dharmasthala Manjayya heggade’s daughter Vimalamma Ballal.

I still recall how we brothers joined hands and packed 50 books each of Ondaanemaale in bundles and arranged them in shelves in chronological order at our home ‘Veera Bhavan’ in Ballal Bagh within three days, when the press was shifted to new premises in 1967.

Kudpi’s friend Harekal Venkatramana Pai took possession of the entire collection of Ondaanemaale from Prabhat Office and dumped them at his home, few years after the passing away of Kudpi. He patiently wiped them clean and sold some copies at Kannada Sahitya Sammelana for One Rupee each.

Ondaanemaale was talk of the town those days, and school, college students used to wait and enquire about new issues of Ondaanemaale at Venkat Rao’s Nityananda Granthalaya, B. Damodar Baliga & Sons and Bhoja Rao And Sons, if not at Prabhat Office. Ondaanemaale was like encyclopedia for the poor with hunger for Kannada literature and general knowledge.
Some of the renowned scholars reminisce over their difficult days, when they collected small change with difficulty and purchased Ondaanemaale to satiate their hunger for literature! Ondaanemaale was like red feather in Kudpi’s cap of achievement.

Stage and Drama:

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Kudpi was deeply involved with stage and dramas. He was adept at writing a new drama overnight. Discerning viewers who demand top notch humour mostly had the opportunity to watch and appreciate his dramas in the Nineteen Sixties. Kudpi had the knack to create the right characters and find the right actors to do full justice to those roles. ‘Purusha Vadhu’ written in 1936 was his first published drama. ‘Baabige Baasinga’, ‘Satyavanta Baabi’ and ‘Naareeshwararu’ published in Ondaanemaale in the Fifties have not only received acclaim from the readers, they also have been enacted on stage at many schools and colleges. ‘Naavu Saahukaara Kuladavaru’ is a mirror that reflects the double standards, arrogance and megalomania of the rich class belonging to the older times. Kudpi has rightly exposed the true colours of politicians in ‘Chunaavane Arthaat Banaavane’, in which one can see how election campaign of useless candidates is highlighted, how sycophants run behind them and misguide them, also the agents and middlemen who play double game and make hay when the sun shines. Perhaps what we can deem as its sequel, ‘Saitaananodane Karaaru’ has not been printed as yet, but e-book of the same has been released. If the theme of the two dramas is relevant even today, one can very well understand the far sightedness of Kudpi about common man!

In 1955 he wrote an essay named ‘Namma Rangabhoomi’ which was like a guide for drama artists and directors. Every aspect of drama has been well discussed by Kudpi in that essay.
It gave a modern touch to the stage activities of early times, we can say.

In the year 1960 when All India Kannada Sammelan was held in Manipal, Kudpi was approached by the conveners to write and stage a drama to add spice to the event. Thus he wrote “Sanyasi Gongadi”, a comedy play and staged it with his artist friends. When a swami entered the audience with his side kicks hailing him, entire audience was stupefied, stood up and paid respect to the swami, thinking that he was real! Then when the swami reached the stage and the drama continued, the audience realized that he was part of the drama!
That’s how innovative Kudpi was, and shows his expertise showing variety with his experiments on stage.

After Kudpi’s passing away, his friend Late Krishnagopal of Mahaveer Press started work on printing Sanyasi Gongadi drama book, but he could not complete it more than 30 percent. Then in the year 1996, my mother Rama Bai took interest, got it fully printed and published. Kudpi translated Sanyasi Gongadi into Konkani in 1970 and named it ‘Bhangraachi Goddadi’. Yet another Konkani drama ‘Dolyaan Khelu’ was also staged successfully at many places. Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy has published those two Konkani dramas in one volume in the year 2014. I have produced and published radio plays of those two dramas with the help of Konkani Mitra Balaga, my friends who are amateur artists.
The dramas were also broadcast by Radio Sarang community FM station. Apart from those two dramas, I have got Kudpi’s manuscripts of ‘Saitananondige Karaaru’ and ‘Vartaka Vilasa’ typed and preserved as soft copies or E-books along with earlier printed and published dramas during Kudpi’s birth centenary in year 2007. I have also distributed free copies of those E-books to interested people.

In the mid Nineteen Sixties, Kudpi was secretary of Kala Bhavana, a trust that used to hold week long drama festivals every year. He was also instrumental in holding stage camps for amateurs.

Kudpi apart from writing and staging his own plays has also translated and staged the Matrati play ‘Ekach Pyala’ in Kannada with the title ‘Onde Gutuku’. We three brothers Shashikanth, Kamalakanth and I used to assist him in writing manuscript copies of some of his dramas in the late Sixties and the early Seventies.

Some of the friends who have acted in Kudpi’s dramas are SR Balgopal, Krishnagopal, Ramananda Choorya, Manel Krishna Nayak, BV Baliga, Mohan Rao, Basti Narayana Shenoy and Srinivas Bhat. Those days, they used to act and show dramas for free. They didn’t chased money, rather acted out of academic interest and to expose their creativity. Kudpi also wrote clean script without vulgarity or double meaning in any of his dramas.

Sense of humour, Humanity, Generosity:
Kudpi had a huge fan following because of the high sense humour he had. At any function or meeting, if Kudpi was to speak, there would be a huge crowd waiting for a roaring overflow of mirth. The way he narrated any funny incident with a serious expression on his face was an art not possessed by many! He never showed self praise or forced anyone to follow him.

My colleague in Syndicate Bank Huruli Ramachandra Rao, son of ‘Kanteerava’ editor Late Huruli Bheema Rao has a story to narrate.

One day Huruli visited Prabhat office along with his son, small boy Ramachandra. Kudpi saw Ramachandra and askd Huruli “How many loads of soil has this boy carried uphill?” meaning, how far he had studied! Mr. Rao also added that when his father and my father met, it was an explosive meeting full of wit and humour!

Kudpi’s sense of humour also worked wonders in instilling good behaviour among us boys.

He had compassion for financially, physically and mentally challenged people in the walk of life. He encouraged them into doing jobs and also paid them handsome wages. There was an ex-military jawan by name Sankappa who was hit by a shell during war and had mental disability, which stopped public from employing him. Sankappa used to roam around the Ballal Bagh area, shouting swear words aloud, often throwing stoned at those who teased him. Kudpi called him from time to time and gave him the job of cleaning the garden. He not only paid him decent wages, but also arranged for sumptuous meal at home for him after the work.

Vamayya was a physically handicapped man with one limp arm. One weekend in the early Seventies, Vamayya was employed by Kudpi to do some chores. Vamayya was very slow in his work compared to normal workers, but Kudpi paid him full wages, also gave him three meals and coffee, and kept him happy. When any neighbour was in need of financial assistance for children’s’ education or for medical expenses, Kudpi immediately used to instruct Ramabai to give them small loans and not to embarrass them by insisting on repayment even when they were not able to repay the money on time.

Regarding Kudpi’s concern for hard working people, I must tell the story of Bantwal Vasudeva Shenoy, a retired school master who ran a small shop in Ballal Bagh selling general items. Father used to send me to Mr. Shenoy’s shop to get his brand of cigarette No. 10, which cost 12 paise per pack.

One day, as usual I brought a pack of cigarette, father examined that and told me “Immediately return this and get No. 10. He has given Gold Flake by mistake!”

Vasudeva Shenoy was obviously confused with the two brands of cigarettes, because they both had yellow coloured packs.

I was surprised that father was not happy about getting cigarettes that cost actually twice the cost of No. 10! When I suggested him about gaining, he was furious, and he shouted, “Go immediately and exchange it. Never have such greed and mean thoughts in your mind. An honest hard working man is losing money and we should be honest enough to see that he does not incur loss at our cost!

Hobbies:

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Having performed three major roles in life such as a successful journalist, writer and playwright, Kudpi had many hobbies. Most important one was his inclination towards Hindustani Classical music. He was fond of playing flute and harmonium. Whenever sangeet kacheris were arranged in Mangalore during his hey days, he never missed any. He admired Hindustani maestros such as Bala Gandharva, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Bismillah Khan, Abdul Kareem Khan, Pannalal Ghosh, Bhimsen Joshi and other contemporaries. He had good rapport with his childhood friend Harekal Ramachandra Pai (Ramanna) who used to host Hindustani Kacheris at his house. I recall that my father used to mention about Pandit Bhimsen Joshi having stayed at Harekal Ramanna’s house for months, before he became a maestro. Father used to take me along with, to Hindi Prachar Samithi where gaayan kacheris took place from time to time. I also remember having slept on his lap during couple of such kacheris that went on until late nights in the mid Nineteen Sixties! I think he wanted to inculcate good taste for Hindustani Classical music among his children.

Apart from Hindustani Classical, he also appreciated old Hindi film songs by K. L. Saigal, C. H. Atma and Pankaj Mullick. It was fun watching him nod his head to the melodies that played on Radio Ceylon early in the morning. He was listening to Marati song form Sangeet Maanaapmaan on All India Radio Bombay regularly.

Kudpi had a penchant for photography and art. He possessed a second hand Kodak Brownie camera that he had purchased in Bombay, with which he captured innocent and natural poses of women and children. He used to get those photos developed at his friend Balgopal’s Balco Studio and get them framed at Bhat’s Photo Frame Shop below his office in Car Street, hang them on the walls of the verandah and hall within our home.

He was a good artist. He drew sketches with Indian ink and published them in his newspaper and other publications. The best one was perhaps a sketch of my brother Kamalakanth when he was a small baby that he drew for the Ondaanemaale book ‘Kumara’.

His liking for Hollywood movies made him watch ‘Frankenstein’ by Boris Karloff many times. He also liked Charlie Chaplin movies and Hindi films by Sohrab Modi, Mehboob Khan, V. Shantaram, K. L. Saigal, Sandhya, Nadia, Suraiya and others. Though he knew all the cinema house owners in Mangalore those days, being a self made man, he never accepted free pass. He would rather purchase tickets paying the entertainment fee which worked out at less than 50% of the total charges, and facilitate his family members to watch some classic films of yesteryear.

He was a voracious reader, and he had a wide collection of a variety of books and magazines in his collection. Apart from receiving Kannada books from authors for the courtesy of review in Prabhat paper, he also used to buy second hand books from Bangalore and Bombay, get them leather bound in his press with golden letters engraved in them. He had two big book cases full of English and Kannada books, most of which are now in my possession. He admired works of authors par excellence such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Anton Chekov, Saumerset Maugham, Guy De Maupassant, O. Henry, Leo Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Jane Austen and likes. He had the full collection of Sir PG Wodehouse, who was his most favourite humour writer. Most of those books were leather bound and are still in good condition.

Of the Kannada writers, he had interaction with A. Na. Kra., Da. Raa. Bendre, Shivarama Karantha, Manjeshwar Govinda Pai, P. K. Narayana, S. V. Parameshwara Bhatta, H. L. Nagegowda, T. Chandraraja Shetty, Kaiyaara Kinhanna Rai, Aerya Laxminarayana Alva, Kedambadi Jattappa Rai, Pa. Gopalakrishna Adiga, and many others. Apart from those stalwarts, he also had the collection of Ku. Vem. Pu., Daasharathi Dixit, Bee Chi, T. P. Kailasam, Triveni and Saisuthe.

Among general books, his collection ranged from Book of Knowledge, Children’s Dictionary, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s discourses, Arabian Nights in Kannada, Biography of Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji, Subhaschandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, V. D. Savarkar, Madanlal Dhingra and many more. He used to receive copies of Illustrated Weekly, Reader’s Digest, Bhavan’s Journal, Sudha, Mayura, Utthana, Karmaveera, Yugapurusha, Vikrama, Chandamama and Balamithra by post. He never looked back when it came to spending over books and magazines for himself and his family members. The way he used to narrate the story “The Hound of The Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a true hair raising experience for us!

Kudpi was a collector of antique Victorian and Bengali furniture for home. Some of the furniture he got made by expert carpenters are majestic, strong and are in good taste. Our home in Ballal Bagh was like a museum, full of antique furniture and collector’s items! He wanted his favourite carpenter to make a Piano Table for writing as seen in some Hindi movie. He took the carpenter along with to the movie, showed him the item and told him to make it exactly like the one he showed, using rose wood. That table is with my brother Kamalakanth now. He also used to dust and polish the furniture himself daily, and keep them in immaculate condition, cautioning us boys from time to time about maintaining them well without making scratches on them or carving them with blades and knives!

Kudpi’s other hobbies were collecting fountain pens, lighters, coins, stamps, key chains, ash trays and crockery. He had in his collection 6 decade old Parker Pens, 1950’s Gillette Shaving Razor, Persian glass and ceramic oil jars, German Binocular and a filigree adorned flute. He also used to buy porcelain and wooden dolls from Mysore during Dasara. A porcelain Shiva bust purchased from Mysore in 1963 was very dear to him. Most of the collectors’ items were arranged in a show case under lock and key.

Other Activities:
Other than journalism, writing, drama and his hobbies, Kudpi had an urge to do something for the Gowda Saraswat Brahmin community in which he was born. So he chalked out a plan to compile a big volume containing 1001 pages called “Gowda Saraswata Brahmana Samaja Darpana” with a ‘Who is who’ section. He worked on that for 2-3 years, visited many towns and collected lot of info from GSBs settled in many places, but he could not complete the work, owing to discouragement and lack of interest shown by typical GSBs. He used to mention that GSBs were mostly self centered; all they cared for, was making money and eating good food, not bothered about doing service to the community! All he could achieve was less than 10% during those three years of hard work, forcing him to abandon the plan.

Noted Kannada film producer director Vadiraj had an idea to make a Konkani film in the year 1975, simply because there was 50% subsidy from the State Government for Regional language films. He approached Kudpi for the script. Kudpi agreed immediately because it was child’s play for him. Vadiraj suggested that the story should be a murder mystery, Kudpi shunned the idea saying Konkanis were mostly peace loving people not indulging in murder and violence, a humour or social theme would suit the film, but he finally had to agree because Vadiraj insisted that the story has to be detective.

A few months down the line, almost 60% script was done, but Vadiraj gave Kudpi shock of his life saying that he had dropped the idea of Konkani film because he had started work on ‘Kaakana Kote’ Kannada film already! He had not paid a single paisa advance to Kudpi for writing the script and it was all in good faith.

Kudpi was disheartened, his health deteriorated due to the hard work going wasted, sleepless nights showed on his health too. By then he was almost 69 years old.

Patriotism:
Being an active Congress worker, Kudpi was very active in the freedom struggle. He used to publish underground publications against the British and distribute hand bills locally to incite love for the Nation.

My sister Dr Veena Isloor remembers an incidence that happened in the Nineteen Forties.

One day when father was away and our mother Rama Bai was alone at home with small kids, Police came with search warrant and knocked on the door, asking for Kudpi. Our mother Rama Bai had presence of mind, she refused to open the door in absence of our father, asked the police to wait outside till he returned from office, ran inside and burnt all the hand bills and by the time father returned and let the policemen in to search the house, there was no evidence left for them to frame him and put him in jail!

That shows that Kudpi was firm in his thoughts and actions, was also brave to face any adverse condition, was very patriotic, he had more concern for the Nation than his own wife and kids!

After independence, every August he printed the tricolour flag on paper to decorate classrooms in schools, and he distributed them for free to school kids. Kudpi had seen Gandhiji and Subhaschandra Bose personally during his hey days. Yet, when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency in 1975 and snatched freedom of press, he was very much hurt, he not only withdrew his support for Congress but he also kept away from politics in general.

Last Days:
Lost freedom of press due to emergency, shattered dreams due to failed projects and aging made Kudpi a bit depressed during his last two years. Though he had good health and was very much active, he had evidently stopped talking at length, advising people or correcting them when they went wrong.

February 1st, 1977.

My brother Kamalakanth had setup his dental clinic in Shivamogga and almost the entire family was at Shivamogga for the proposed inaugural of the clinic on February 3rd, 1977.

Srikanth was at Manipal attending his office in Syndicate Bank Head Office. I was in Manipal studying Medical Laboratory Technology diploma course. Father was alone at home with my sister in law, Srikanth’s wife Prabha Shenoy. We were all supposed to go to Shivamogga on February 2nd.

At around 9:30am soon after father had his breakfast and tea and get ready to go to office, he suddenly shouted “Prabha!” and collapsed on the bed. Sister in law came running from the kitchen and she saw him on the bed, holding his chest and visibly in pain. She immediately alerted the neighbours, Dr Shevgoor Upendra Kamath came rushing and by the time he examined Kudpi, he had already expired! He had his first heart attack, a massive one, taking away his life without making him suffer for long or making him bed ridden.

Though Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy’s Seventy years of active and successful life as a journalist, writer and playwright made him live in the minds of Kannada lovers of west coast forever, a legend of his own times, his pen had ceased to write. Even today, he is alive within the newspaper, articles, publications, books and dramas he had showcased and archived, if not in the works of those young writers whom he had supported, who have grown and become famous today to carry forward his legacy.

-=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo=–=oOo
About The Author

Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi is the youngest son of Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy, noted journalist, writer and playwright. After working for Syndicate Bank for 22 years, he took VRS in the year 2001 and started “Kudpiraj Multimedia Professionals” in Bejai Mangalore. Over the years, he has mastered audio-video editing, short documentaries production, script writing and photo restoration.

Being a team member of the web portal “Mangalorean.com”, he has contributed many articles from 2006 to 2012. This feature is a tribute from him to his great father Kudpi Vasudeva Shenoy, which was first published in Kannada in the book “Mangaluru Darshana”, jointly published by the Dakshina Kannada DC, Mangalore City Corporation Commissioner and MUDA Chairman last year.

Being a Multimedia professional from 2001 to 2016, he has created many video documentaries for various Institutions including two TV documentaries for Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy.

He was one of the 5 chosen brand ambassadors for Tata Nano car in year 2010 featured in National newspapers and radio ads.

He is a connoisseur of multi cuisine ranging from traditional GSB to global cuisine, vegetarian & non-vegetarian. His 40 years passion for cooking, his ability to compile recipe articles and his expertise in photography inspired him to open his own blog site on food.

Visit his blog site “http://kudpiraj.blogspot.in/” for step by step recipes with a story behind each item in description. Since last 5 years he has experimented and successfully innovated & formulated many of his own recipes based on traditional food with a twist.

He has also acted host to Chef Vikas Khanna in the Fox Life TV channel food show “Twist if Taste with Vikas Khanna”, featuring Mangalorean delicacy, Kori Rotti.

His story blog “http://fundasticfeelings.blogspot.in/” showcases mostly true stories from his younger days to present times, more of an autobiography he has written in parts, and is still updating.

I take this opportunity to thank Kudpi Rajanikanth Shenoy for giving me the permission to copy this article. I had grown up hearing and reading about this great legendary of our GSB Samaj. I felt that this could be a best way to pay tribute to him.

2 Comments »

  • Dear Vivekananda Bhaktha,

    I am overwhelmed by the concern, affection, enthusiasm and dedication shown by you in publishing this article.

    You have done a great job with the layout and slide shows to present the article professionally.

    Hope, our samaj bhandavs will read the article and be inspired by the work done by my great father in making GSBs proud.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Kudpi Raj.

    • M V Bhaktha says:

      Dear Kudpi Raj,

      Thank you very much for showering me with words of appreciation. It was a humble attempt of mine to offer our very own legendary personality due respect for his contributions towards our community, art, literature and culture.

      I thank you for the wonderful write-up you gave, which was not possible by me and sharing those rare wonderful photos.

      Always there for the seva of our community,

      Best Regards,

      M. V. Bhaktha

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