WODEYAR: Tell the full, fair, undistorted story


The script for the sound and light show that the India Tourism Development Corporation and its State counterpart, KSTDC, have planned has run into major trouble, with the scion of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom SRIKANTADATTA WODEYAR expressing objection.

In this interview with churumuri, P.V. Nanjaraje Urs, retired professor in the Department of Hindi and Film Studies at the University of Mysore, and a man seen to have Wodeyar’s ear, explains cause of the former Mysore MP’s grouse. Excerpts:

CHURUMURI: What is your primary objection to Lingadevaru Halemane’s script?

NANJARAJE URS: The lack of transparency that marks a project of this nature. The Wodeyars were the maharajas who built Mysore. How can you enter their house and tell their story to the world from their premises, without once talking to them or consulting them. If his script is perfect, as he claims, why is he so afraid of showing it?

You haven’t seen the script. What makes you suspect that he may have got it wrong?

The very fact that he is refusing to share the script! Listen, history is not a straight line. It is full of curves. There are ups, there are downs. Nothing is what it seems. There are two, sometimes more sides to the same issue. Ignoring one for the other can distort the contributions of the Wodeyars.

But this is a one-hour programme. Surely, not everything can be accommodated?

True. The history of the Wodeyars extends from 1399 to 1947. I know that it is not possible to compress 550 hours into 55 minutes and do justice to every event and incident. Still, we must know what has been included and what has been excluded. This must be done to ensure that there are no distortions. The possibility of distortion due to the lack of transparency is very high especially in a visual medium where you if you repeat a lie a few times, it begins to sound like the truth.

Halemane says a committee of eight scholars checked the script…

Yes, but who are these scholars? He has named one (Prof Shadakshara Murthy of Bangalore University), but who are the others?

Does the opposition to the script stem from the fact that Srikantadatta Wodeyar does not feature in it, by Halemane’s own admission?

No. Not at all. An impression is sought to be created by Halemane that Mr Wodeyar has expressed his reservations about the script because he is not it. How can that be the case, when Halemane has not met Wodeyar at all?

From your knowledge of the Wodeyars, what are the contentious issues you fear may get distorted?

There are hundreds of them. For example, to an lay person, the life of Chamaraja Wodeyar X may not seem particularly eventful to record in a documentary script. But he was the first ever in the country to set up a Representative Assembly in the late 1800s. Can we ignore him because it is not a dramatic moment? There are hundreds of incidents like this.

Give us one more example.

Take Sir M. Visheswaraiah’s resignation as Diwan from Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar’s regime. We now talk of reservations for the downtrodden as if it is a post-independence phenomenon. But Nalwadi Wodeyar had mooted it in 1930. Sir MV opposed his move, but Nalwadi put him down saying he cannot ignore social upliftment as a maharaja. Sir MV then resigns in protest. A script which does not take care of such incidents would do be doing a severe injustice to those on whom it seeks to throw light.

Is there any reason why we should expect Halemane to distort any of these incidents?

Nobody is casting aspersions on Halemane’s competence or credibility. Or that he is trying to deliberately colour the truth. The question is of openmindedness. During the time of Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar, there was a farmers’ struggle. There are two views about the maharaja’s role in this. One is pro-farmer, one is anti-farmer. Will Halemane, who portrayed the maharaja in the latter role in a play he wrote, have the broadmindedness to appreciate the maharaja’s pro-farmer role as well?

But this is a matter of individual interpretation.

Precisely. An honest script has to appreciate the circumstances in which the maharajas had to operate. It cannot afford to prop up one view over the other merely because one believes one view more than the other. Or because one view is more fashionable than the other. Take the steps up the Chamundi Hills leading upto the Nandi Bull. The legend is that Doddadevaraja Wodeyar was responsible for this. But some say a clothes merchant called Mannar built it. Which view do we project to the world?

Are you comfortable with the fact that Srikantadatta Wodeyar does not figure in the script?

But that is the reality. The end of the Mysore royal kingdom came when Jayachamaraja Wodeyar agreed to become a part of the Union sometime in late 1947. Srikantadatta Wodeyar, as a royal entity, does not exist, except in the private poojas that the erstwhile royal family conducts during Dasara.

Can the history of the Mysore royal family end so abruptly with a signature?

Maybe you can have a line at the end of the script that Srikantadatta was the last maharaja’s son. Just like in Hyderabad, where the continuance of the Nizam’s lineage is gratefully recorded.

What happens if Halemane refuses to reveal the script?

The district in-charge minister D.T. Jayakumar has informally informed Wodeyar that he will get to see it. We hope that is the case. If not…

If not?

All it will take to scupper the whole project is one intervention from Srikantadatta Wodeyar in the courts, pleading that the sound and light show not be inaugurated till all his cases are disposed of. We hope the situation does not come to that. All that is being demanded is greater intellectual transparency. This cannot be an ego thing.