He stood up for women. He spoke for them, towards their innermost emotions. He touched and embraced the realms of feminism, beyond all social constraints and limitations. All this, in the era where such radical thought process was considered to be highly inappropriate, debatable and outrageous. He took sides on a fair stand, delving into a woman’s mind and body, being her hero, even if it was for one night. That’s Chalam for you.
Gudipati Venkatachalam will continue to be the envy of Telugu literary world. We can accredit that to both his writing style and articulation. Author with the purest and unabashed approach to emotions and relationships often thanked his childhood. Chalam did not have a great time as a child. His father would beat him up and his mother had to put up with insults, staying separated in a marriage. This perhaps, became the biggest strength for the writer who empowered women with powerful plots and characters.
A modern mind ingrained in a fine personality, Chalam’s words led to both adulation as well as an uproar. People will love him or hate him, but there is no denying a read. Chalam’s take on the ironies of Indian women was commendable. He was the secret lover of a wife who was left abandoned, uncared for. He gave hope to the widow of those times who could not even look up and face the world. Chalam was everything a woman wanted, only, his men and his imagination were a shame for most part of conservative world.
“I hate autobiographies. By writing an autobiography, I am admitting to myself and indirectly telling everybody that I am an important person, I made lots of good things to help people and society and if I do not tell the world about myself, there is great loss to the world and by not knowing about me, the world is losing something. For a person like me who always thinks and wonders, “Why was I born? And OK, I was born but why I did not die immediately without polluting my surroundings? Writing an autobiography and telling my story shamelessly is not a matter to be excused…” – Chalam
The best part of all Chalam’s writings – he gave hope to the men and women of those days. The democracy that then had severe inhibitions with respect to social standing, status and pattern, Chalam’s words served as a fresh breath of beginnings.
Never back down, he would say, silently to the women who read him in the confines of homes and male dominated government buildings. Embrace your womanhood, do not be apologetic, he would say, to the ladies who feared seeking companionship. Be the one, he echoed in his writing, making women look as strong as they really are.
Some of his great works in novels include Maidanam, Sasirekha, Dyvamicchina bharya, Jeevitadarsam, Brahmanikam, Bujjigadu, Tyaagam, Aruna, Anusuya and Premalekhalu
We women often wonder if there would be another Chalam. The probability is slim to none, we can vouch for that.