12/23/2011 9:43:20 PM
The CopyrightControversy about Seshendra’s Books
Commercialadvertisements cannot replace facts. This time justice will win in a court oflaw.
It appearsthat the copyright of books of the noted poet, Gunturu Seshendra Sarma who passedaway in May 2007, has become a subject of controversy.
On December 2, 1989, SriSeshendra transferred completely, in a will, the copyright of his corpus ofentire works to his second and youngest son, Satyaki, in his own handwriting.
When SriSeshendra was alive, Satyaki reprinted seven books from the collection of hisnewspaper writings, Enta kalam Ee Endamavulu? (How long are theseMirages?) in June 1995 to Oohalo (In Imagination) in 2001. Withinsix months after Sri Seshendra passed away, Satayaki re-printed the modernclassic, My Country, My People.
Thebook-launching was organized on November 16. On 19-1-2001 (Monday) there appeared anadvertisement given by an advocate in a newspaper. It was stated in the commercialthat Sri Seshendra, suspending all his previous wills, delegated the copyrightsof his books to Indira Dhanarajgir on 5-1-2006. That way she has subjected the issue of copyrightsof Sri Seshendra’s books to controversy. In this background, here is aninterview with Satyaki who owned the copyright of Sri Seshendra’s books for 17years.
Q: What must be the reason for the release of this commercialad, now?
Satyaki: I was takenaback by this advertisement. She knows well that my father has bequeathed thecopyrights of all his books to me in his own handwriting and based on that Ire-printed a few of his books. If my father has transferred the copyright toIndira Dhanarajgir on 5-1-2006as she claims he would have informed me. He was hale and healthy at the age of62 when he gave the copyright to me. There was no need for him to change the copyrightsin his old age which had been given to me when he was sound in his health. Thisbetrays the conspiracy of Indira Dhanrajgir. This is a palace intrigue. Thatshe is resorting to such things when she crossed the age of 82 brings to focusher scruples and moral stature.
Q: Did you discuss the issue of copyrights with legalexperts?
Satyaki: I discussed this issue with a few legal experts.They expressed their considered opinion that the paper that she holds is of novalue and that it will not stand in a court of law.
I didn’t gofurther into details as the need did not arise. In contemporary literaryscenario there are a few instances where the copyrights of poets and writersbelonged to their children. Sri Chalam’s copyright went to his daughterSourees, that of Sri Sri to his son, Ramana. Maqdoom’s copyrights went to hisson, Susrat. On many occasions, the poets did not write a will. But n my case,there is a clear will written by my father and also its implementation duringhis lifetime.
Q. After Seshendra’s death, his did she become IndiraSeshendra?
Satyaki: In the last30, 40 years, she was not consistent in the use of her name. Around 1961 in Maqdoom Mohiuddn’s poetry anthology at theend of two poems her name appeared as Ms. Indira Dhanaragir. In 1967, in thepoetry collection, Pakshulu (Birds) published by my father, she appearedas ‘Indira Devi Dhanarajgir.’ In November 2006, when she published a novel, Kamotsav,originally written by Chandrasekhar Rao but published in my father’s name, sheincluded her name as ‘Rajkumari Indira Dhanarajgir’ as copyright owner. Afterthe death of Seshendra on May 30, when Telugu University and State Cultureministry together organised a meeting in his memory she gave commercialadvertisements to the newspapers, Eenadu, and The Hindu. Here she published hername as ‘Indiradevi Seshendra Sarma.’ Again,within a few months, in another commercial advertisement that appeared on 19-11-07 in a dailynewspaper, and the one on 26-11-07she appeared as ‘Rajkumari Indiradevi Dhanarajgir.’ Thus, there is noconsistency in the use of her name. It is changed based on the need andcontext.
Q. Will you give a counter to it?
Satyaki: Indira Dhanarajgir means enormous money power, andit is a well-known fact. I don’t have the financial capacity to compete withher in issuing newspaper advertisements each time. This is also well-known. Butas soon as I read the ad on 26-11-07,I sent my response through an advocate by registered post. I also received thereceipt for the same. I will continue the publication programme depending onthe financial assistance I get. I firmly believe that copyrights are not likemovable and immovable properties to be enjoyed, but an onerous responsibilityto be carried out. In fact, since the year 2000, whenever contacted on phone,my father would say, “I am waiting for my train to come” or “I am sitting onthe platform and waiting for my train.”
Ever since 2002, whenever contactedbetween 11 and 12, the response we got was ‘He is sleeping.’ Whenever I visitedhim at about 11 am he usedto wake up around 12/12.30, wash himself and then sit on a chair. Inhalf-an-hour he would say that his back is aching and that he needed rest. Whenhe is in such a semi conscious state, what papers he would have signed? Fullyaware? It is for the learned people to decide.
‘Visalandhra’ daily (literary supplement)