Students of Bhavans College of Journalism share their experiences of their first formal interview with a known personality as a part of their out-door project. Lively narrations of a wholesome interview episode with a nervous start and a gifted ending—–
Twists and turns the words
To forge flowery keys in his Fire
To help open the doors
Of the secret chambers of
Like the oft-quoted lines “Age cannot wither…..” explains who Shakespeare is, R.B.K.Varma’s own lines speak who Varma is when he steps into the shoes of a poet. As he is busy dabbling in poles-apart-guises, as a Professor, a Management Expert, a Motivator, a painter, a writer, it is difficult for one to hem him inside the brackets of a particular segment.
Rama Bharatha Varma, after his eventful and meaty professional life in various parts of the country, has at last reached Trichur, the cultural hub of Kerala – the land of another Rama Varma, better known to the world as Sakthan Thampuran. When we, some journalism students met him at his apartment in Trichur, he was waiting for us, with a wide smile and a pitcher of cool drinks.
We were embarrassed as our novice from inside was pulling us back to ask him questions as a part of our ‘Interview Techniques’ project. But Varma with a patting smile, kick started the conversation, patiently heard our stammering questions, and corrected us wherever we deviated from the track. At that time he was the English Professor in the Madurai University.
He triggered the session reciting one of the poems he has written about journalists, making us turn back to our Reporting classes, where we often counter with the question of a scoop to submit to the Department.
“The Journalist’s prayer..
Oh, God, a scoop, a single scoop,
A flood in Assam or in Bihar,
A draught in Gujarath or in Orissa,
An explosion in the political compost,
At least snap the artery of a pot-belly..
Oh, bless my day with an assassination..”
We recalled our teacher often quotes P.Sainath as –“Every one loves a good tragedy”, to make us know where we are marching to.
Varma has so far written more than 1500poems, most of them are in Hyku style conveying great thoughts in powerful but simple words.
When asked about which poet has inspired him, his answer came spontaneously — “None..”. Though he speaks briskly through his poems, he says he never waits for ‘that apt word’ like a Nissim Ezekeil. If to quote Varma, “a poem or any creative art should have the elements of suspense and surprise, we should be able to sustain the emotions of the reader/viewer..there lies the success of the poet/artist”. In his opinion, the off-track movies which often lack these elements that brings their break down in the box office.
He has published 4 volumes of poems (500 poems) in English with a preface by Dr.K.Ayyappa Panikker, the legendry poet who pioneered modernism in Malayalam poems and critiques, and influenced the intellectual and cultural life of Malayalam by linking it to English Literature.
When Varma explained the long and tensed episodes of his meeting with Ayyappa Panikker to get him writing a preface for his Book of poems, we, the greenhorns who are about to leap into its realms were sat agape, to know how a book is being published.
At last, after going through all the 500 poems Ayyappa Panikker has proclaimed it as “Poems to be Re-visited”!!!
‘The New Indian Express’ reviewed it as ‘First time in India in one stretch’. ‘The Hindu’ has given away a big part of its worthy columns to praise the ‘formal and tonal variety coupled with the mastery over the medium’ of Varma.
But, Varma, keeps a hand written letter of M.T.Vasudevan Nair, the prestigious Jnanapeedhom Award winner, appreciating his poems, as the greatest recognition, he ever had
Varma’s thought provoking poems give the reader a chance for introspection.
“Date of birth is assured..
Date of death is insured”
“The real man is born out of the brain
As the unreal rainbow is born out of the rain”
Varma writes and rewrites often with myriad shades about certain things like life, love, and poems repeatedly but never making the readers ‘cloy’ but ‘hungry’.
From the Professor of Literature, the journey to an English poet was ‘a massive offering to the Muse’ though he denies that he is not inspired by any poet. But coming to the solid realities of a world that hinges on the management aptitude of the bohemians, he took his pen down a peg to scribble the concrete realities that are needed to survive, simply.
As a Management Professional, he could meet the plurality of embarrassments with which the yester-generation passes through. It never gave him the end until he take his pen to jot something for them –“Productive and Creative Retired Life – never say Good Bye to Life till Death’,an inspirational book, blooming in English and Malayalam.
Another worthy book under work is ‘The Great Indian Cocktail’, depicting the social, cultural, political, business history of contemporary India. The third work which is also in the green room is “Kaleidoscope’, an English novel.
Varma opened his little laptop and passed it to us –and we felt proud for being the first readers of these books which may sometimes make ripples in the literary and social arena of the world, not so late.
A Copy writer
Varma entered into the realms of advertisements even before it has been accepted as a creative business. It is not an easy job to be a copy writer and conceive a great idea in less than 10 seconds with befitting jingles.
When asked, he recalled the first jingle he has written for the GIC, when banks started providing housing loans to the public.
“I started thinking of the possibilities which bring one in to become a customer of loans. For that the first thing is to emote him for the want of an own home, then only the need of finance arises..I browsed through a lot of pictures in the hope of finding a concept. Suddenly the picture of a colored turtle caught inside and I wrote –“He is born with a home, but you are not….”.
Even in this 60 plus, Varma is enthusiastic like a child to learn whatever comes in his way. Even while working as a Professor of English, he has taken another PG Degree in Advertisement and Public Relations. Then opting a voluntary retirement to pursue a career in Management Education, he joined with ITM Bangalore, after taking another Master Degree in Marketing Management. It was at the age of 55 !!!
When most of his friends pull themselves into their hermitages waiting for the inevitable, he learned the inevitable thing one needs to survive in the world today – computer technology. Earlier, it was the pen which was mightier than sword, now like any of the contemporary writers; mouse is Varma’s mighty sword.
Varma is excelled in digital paintings also.
An artist is often born. At times circumstances, more or less matter him to keep with a straight face. Here, behind the Professor, behind the Management Professional, an artist was hiding and sometimes it peeped to the world with having no stories to tell except a charging. Simply, lines and colors dribbled or sometimes lashed along the canvas in acrylic or oil medium defined the aesthetics of conveyance to those who dig out.
Varma had conducted a number of Painting Exhibitions also to his credit. We were not fortunate to see a single one, since all the pictures he had enlivened were sold out or gifted to someone.
Right now, Varma is in a mission to ‘Discover Yourself’, bringing out a change in the attitude of young students. With the immense teaching experience across South India at hand, he tries to train the children at the formative age to find out their inner potentials. Even a proven professor, he now likes to concentrate on school children to build up a grass-route level co-ordination and motivation that he says would support them to discover their self. He conducts this program in the Higher Secondary schools in Kerala now and he showed us the written feedbacks he got from the students of some schools. We saw a fully contented person there, though he never admits it as in his poem:
“Both (God and Man) escape from the monotony of perfection
The searing search continues…”
Prof.Rama Bharatha Varma is now serving as the COO and Academic Advisor with ELIMS (Elijah Institute of Management Studies) Trichur.
* * * * * *
It was more than an interview to interact with such a man who sees in depth of everything he perceives. While bidding ‘bye’ he asked us
“Do you want a poem right now?”
We were amazed. Varma overtook us and asked “ Come on, tell me a topic”
“Student”, one of us replied
He then took his laptop; meanwhile we have had a talk with his wife, who supports her husband as a good critic of his poems. By that time he finished writing that poem. Passing his laptop to one of us, he asked her to recite it aloud..
We were overwhelmed to see the scribble under it:
“This poem is dedicated to the Journalism students of Bhavans”
We felt honored.