Mysore/Mysuru: The residents of Yadavagiri had gathered in good numbers to witness the inauguration of first-of-its-kind Statuary Circle with fictional characters from the celebrated author R.K. Narayan’s (RKN) book Swami and Friends at the Joy ice-cream factory junction in Yadavagiri in city last evening. The event was organised by Yadavagiri Residents Association.
The Circle is just a stone’s throw away from R.K. Narayan’s house in the locality which has been converted into a Museum now and incidentally Swami and Friends stand facing their creator’s house. The statues (of Swami, Mani and Shankar) were unveiled by Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha in the presence of K.B. Ganapathy, Founder-Editor of Star of Mysore and Master Manjunath (Manjunath Nayaker), the actor who essayed the role of Swami in the TV serial Malgudi Days, the screen adaptation of RKN’s book. Even though the statues were ready two years ago, their unveiling was delayed due to various reasons.
The statues stood there wrapped in tarpaulin for so long that it prompted Star of Mysore columnist Vikram Muthanna to write about it in his column In Black & White titled ‘Unwrap Swami & Friends, Now’ which was published in Star of Mysore’s Anniversary Issue dated Feb.16, 2023. Now the statues have been finally unwrapped.
Tharun Giri, Managing Director of Windflower Resorts and Spa, Mysuru, who had sponsored the Circle with statuary, in his welcome address, spoke about the importance of art in public spaces while thanking everyone from the Mysuru City Corporation and the sculptors, who made these statues.
Speaking after inauguration, Manjunath Nayaker said, “R.K. Narayan visualised ‘Swami’ and I got a rare privilege to enact the role of Swami.” He then added that his claim to fame was due to R.K. Narayan’s work.
K.B. Ganapathy, who also spoke, said he was happy to know personally both P.V. Giri of Windflower and Siddharta Hotels, whose family sponsored this Circle and writer R.K. Narayan.
“I came in contact with R.K. Narayan during the ‘Save Kukkarahalli Lake’ movement that I started in 1980s. Since then, I had a good rapport with the writer, until he moved to Coimbatore and then to Chennai.”
Ganapathy recalled a couple of interesting interactions he had with R.K. Narayan. Speaking of Narayan’s love for Star of Mysore, he mentioned that the writer would get copies of Star of Mysore mailed to his Coimbatore address and later to Chennai.
Sharing an interesting incident, Ganapathy said, “Once I had quoted a line from R.K. Narayan’s autobiography ‘My Days’ in my column Abracadabra. After a week, I got a postcard from R.K. Narayan saying that I had used the lines from his autobiography without his permission and not to repeat it henceforth. Thank God Narayan didn’t ask for any royalty for publishing those lines,” sending the gathering into peels of laughter.
Ganapathy also lauded the philanthropy of Hotelier P.V. Giri and his son Tharun Giri and said the donation of this Statuary Circle was one more contribution of Giri’s family to the community.
Later, addressing the gathering, P.V. Giri said, “Our family is related to art. I remember when I started building Hotel Siddharta, my wife was sourcing artwork for the hotel. We also have several art collections at home.” He then spoke about giving back to the city and community what he had received from them.
MP Pratap Simha spoke about the importance of art and literature and their power to inspire. “R.K. Narayan’s literary works like Swami & Friends, The English Teacher, Bachelor of Arts and several others remain etched in our memory, which shows how the writer continues to live on, even after his death (in 2001),” he said.
Continuing, the MP said, “I haven’t met R.K. Narayan but have met another literary giant of Mysuru Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa, numerous times and every time I ask about the awards that he has been denied, he says ‘it is only through literary works that a writer can be immortal. It is not through awards.’ I am sure R.K. Narayan’s literary works would endure for generations to come.”
Later, Sculptors M.D. Raviraj, Gururaj S. Nayak, assistants S. Basavaraj, S. Anand and Nagaraj were felicitated.
Chamaraja MLA L. Nagendra, MCC Commissioner G. Lakshmikantha Reddy, Corporators B.V. Ravindra, Pramila J. Bharat and M.U. Subbaiah were present. S.K. Dinesh, Convenor of Yadavagiri Residents Association, moderated the programme.
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