The Telugu World column# 12
‘Anna’ And ‘Akka’ of 1000s of Telugus
Your parents generation grew up on All India Radio ‘Balanandam’ the children’s weekly program (‘Pillala Programme’) in Telugu where some of them may have even haltingly recited a worn-out but popular poem, egged on (when they forgot words) by a loving couple, Nyapati Raghava Rao and N. Kameswari.
None of the readers may know their names, but they can ask their parents or elders. I cannot control my tears (from fond memories) as I write this.
The childless couple, popular as Radio ‘Annayya’ (elder brother) and ‘Aakkayya’ (elder sister) were very famous. They had started the program when the only AIR station in Telugu was in Madras (now Chennai).They were instrumental in setting up the Andhra Balananda Sangham, which still exists in 2019-20.
The information below (including the copyright picture) has been put out by the Sangham:“Nyayapathi Raghava Rao (Annayya) was born on April 13th 1905 in Berhampur, Odisha.
He comes from a family of lawyers, journalists and freedom fighters. He grew up in a family which was very talented culturally and his father encouraged children to develop an outgoing personality.
“Annayya graduated from Maharaja College in Vijayanagaram and married his classmate Smt.N.Kameswari (Akkayya). Later they shifted over to Madras and he joined “The Hindu” as sub-editor before resigning and starting the publication of his own children’s magazine “Bala”. He continued to conduct radio programmes for children along with his wife for decades in Madras and Hyderabad.
“He was a writer, singer, actor, composer, publisher and a broadcaster. His multi faceted talent is remembered by all Telugu speaking people even today.”
Achievements of Sri.Nyayapathi Raghava Rao
–Published the First Telugu children’s magazine “BALA” in early 1940’s along with his wife Smt. N. Kameswari. It ran successfully for almost two decades. It was an inspiration to the present day children’s magazines like ‘Chandamama’ etc.Established Andhra Balananda Sangham in 1940.
–Initiated the “Balananda Sanghams Movement” and started children’s organizations all over the state.
–Along with his wife, he was the first to conduct children’s programmes in All India Radio in Telugu on a regular basis. This was greatly popular and appreciated by all Telugu speaking people for many years as that was the only form of entertainment available to them till early 70’s.
–Created many fun characters and wrote innumerable radio plays for children.These characters are still household names in Andhra Pradesh.
–”Produced the first full length children’s film called “Balanandam” along with a well-known popular director Sri. K. S. Prakasa Rao in Telugu. This was the only true full length Telugu children’s film to date. The entire star cast were children.
–Wrote and published scores of stories, songs, skits, dramas, musical plays and nursery rhymes for children.
–Conducted 4 All India children’s conferences along with the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
–Along with his wife, he was the first to release twelve children’s gramophone records with the help of HMV Records. The songs were written and tuned by him, with orchestration by Sri. K. V. Mahadevan. These songs are popular even today.He won the “National Competition for Juvenile Literature” for his book of nursery rhymes “Badiganta”.
–Member of the child panel of “Central and State Social Welfare Board” for many years Influential in establishing the “Jawahar Balbhavan” in Andhra Pradesh.
Freedom fighter and publisher of “Andhravani” a nationalist Telugu weekly along with his brother Sri Nyayapathi Narayana Murthy, a famous journalist.
–Member of the Child Welfare Panel set up by the “Central Social Welfare Board” and “State Social Welfare Board” for many years.
–Chairman of the Children’s wing at the “World Telugu Conference” in 1975.
–Instrumental in starting the “Balala Academy” constituted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh and worked as its Secretary for a long time.
An entire column has been devoted to this great couple as they were trail blazers who impacted millions of children who are now grandparents. To marry a classmate in 1920s was a revolutionary step now quite common. Children participate in many reality shows now, but to be able to recite a poem on radio was a great achievement then.
It is difficult to categorize Radio Annaayya and Radio Akkayya as either ‘transplanted’ Telugus who worked in other states to bring glory to whatever they did (as they worked in Tamil-speaking Chennai then and there was no linguistic Telugu state) or Telugus who did great service to the motherland as Andhra was a part of the composite Madras Presidency which comprised entire south India leaving aside a few independent princely states.
More difficult to classify similarly are members of a distinguished Deshashta Brahmin family from Maharashtra who had settled in Machilipatnam (once also known as Masula or ‘Bandar’ meaning ‘port’), considered themselves Telugu but served in other areas like Mysore. They also had the same surname – Nyapathi.