GAVIPURAM: The Masti Venkatesh Jeevana Karyalaya (MVJK) Trust, which celebrated the Jnanpith laureate’s birth anniversary last Saturday, is launching a two-year programme focused on the writer’s works.
“We’re doing it in association with Masti Adhyayana Peetha and Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs,” says V Vasantasree, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar’s granddaughter and a founding member of both these trusts. “June 6, next year, will be Mastiji’s 125th birth anniversary. It will also be 30 years since his death.”
The coming two years will see seminars aimed at schoolchildren and adults, performances of Masti’s plays and even dance and music events. “On July 6, Ritwik Simha and Vedike will present Kakanakote at ADA Rangamandira,” she says.
The aim of MVJK is to keep Masti’s works alive, and that includes publishing and distributing his titles. Novels Channabasava Nayaka and Mathugara Ramanna, plays Yashodhara and Kakanakote and his Kelavu Sanna Kategalu are among the most popular, says its managing trustee. Non-fiction — reviews and essays — however, aren’t as popular.
“But if you ask me about personal favourites, I would say I love all of them, for they are so simple,” she says. “In spite of having worked in the field of science, I found a key to the world of literature through Mastiji.” She has even authored a piece titled Masti Nanna Beegadakai.
She fondly recalls how her grandfather used to pace up and down the hall of the nearly 100-year-old house composing his works. A scribe — sometimes his wife, who had an impressive handwriting, or a couple of well-known scientists — took his words down.
“When he started the first sentence, he knew what the last one would be,” she says. “At any given point, he would have eight books in his head. It’s the process of writing that slowed him down.”
Mastiji had a very retentive memory, according to her. “He would write a play, a novel, a short story, an essay... all of these almost simultaneously,” she says. “One of the first things he ever wrote was an essay titled Antaragange. It later developed into a 400-page book that was released when my grandfather was 92.”
Masti Maney, the house her ajja and ajji brought her up in, has been her home since the late 1990s, when she returned from the UK. “And they still live here with me,” she says.
Venkatesh Iyengar was born on June 6, 1891, in Hosahalli in Kolar district, and spent his early childhood in Masti village. After he studied English Literature under Madras University, he joined the Mysore Civil Service. Twenty-six years later, he quit and moved to Bengaluru. In 1983, he became the fourth Kannada writer to receive the Jnanpith award. The celebrated author, who died on his 95th birthday, is best known for his short stories.
Masti Maney, 49, Masti
Venkatesha Iyengar Road,
2nd Cross, Gavipuram
Extension. Ph: 080 26612547