T. R. Subba Rao

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T. R. Subba Rao (Ta Ra Su)
Born (1920-04-21)21 April 1920
Malebennur, Harihar taluk, Davangere district, Karnataka
Died 10 April 1984(1984-04-10) (aged 63)
Bangalore, Karnataka
Pen name Ta Ra Su (ತ ರಾ ಸು)
Occupation Writer, professor
Nationality India
Genre Fiction
Literary movement Kannada: Navya, Pragatishila

T. R. Subba Rao (1920–1984) (Taluku Ramaswami Subba Rao (Kannada: ತಳುಕು ರಾಮಸ್ವಾಮಿ ಸುಬ್ಬ ರಾವ್), popularly known as TaRaSu) was a novelist and a scholar in Kannada language.[1] He is considered as a harbinger of the Navya movement of Kannada literature. He is well known for his novels like Durgashtamana, which won him the Sahitya Akademi award posthumously in 1985.

Early life[edit]

TaRaSu was born on 21 April 1920 in Malebennur in the Karnataka state of India.[2] His father Ramaswamaiah was a lawyer in the town of Harihar and his mother was Seethamma. His ancestors were from the village of Taluku in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka. He wrote his first story called Puttana Chendu (Putta's ball) to win a bet against his uncle TS Venkannaiah who a made self-less contribution to Kannada language through promoting many prominent authors. When he was 17 years old, he joined the Indian freedom movement and went around the villages in the Chitradurga district, singing patriotic songs and giving speeches for independence. He was arrested and jailed when he was giving one of the speeches in Bagur village.[2]

Fearing that his son would lose out on education by joining the freedom movement, Ramaswamaiah admitted his son to the National School in Bangalore. After completing his secondary education, TaRaSu joined a college in Shimoga. After completing his junior intermediate education, he joined a college in Tumkur to complete senior intermediate education. However, the students started boycotting the classes due to the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi and others during the Quit India movement.[2] He and his friends started making plans to join the movement. This came to the notice of the police, who arrested TaRaSu and jailed him. He was released in the month of December 1942. He decided that he was not going to study further unless India attains independence.[2] He was an atheist in early life but converted into a believer in the later stages.


TaRaSu's came from a literary family. His niece Vishalakshi Dakshinamurthy, is a notable Kannada Novelist and writer famous for his novel based film Jeevana Chaitra which starred Dr.Rajakumar, well known Kannada Actor. TaSu Sham Roa, was also related to TaRaSu. His extended family includes, Belegre Krishna Sastry, and Ravi Belegre


As a journalist[edit]

In 1942, TaRaSu went to Bangalore and joined as a sub-editor for the Kannada newspaper, VishwaKarnataka, earning a paltry sum of Rs. 25 as salary per month. During this period, he married Ambuja. He later worked for the Prajamatha, Vahini and Navodaya newspapers. His career in journalism also included a stint with Prajavani, Mysuru, Kaladoota and Vicharavani newspapers.[2]

As a writer[edit]

TaRaSu was initially influenced by the Pragatisheela writings of the Kannada scholar A. N. Krishna Rao. Hence, his initial writings belong to the pragatisheela style and contain novels like Purushavatara and Munjavininda Munjavu. These writings mainly deal with the issues faced by the downtrodden and the lower caste society.[1] Occasionally, he also came up with novels that were not of this genre, like Chandavalliya Thota which was based on a Gandhian theme of rural life in India.[3] Some of his most celebrated novels include Masanada Hoovu, which talks about the plight of prostitutes and Hamsa Geethe, which talks about the life of a musician in the context of Chitradurga being passed from the hands of the Palaiyakkarars to Hyder Ali.[4] Both of these novels have been made into films in Kannada. Hamsageethe was chosen as a text book for graduation classes and a Hindi film, Basant Bahar, was based on it.

TaRaSu has also written many historical novels, the most famous being Durgaastamana (fall of the Durga fort), which won him the Sahitya Akademi award in 1985.[5] This was the last novel that he wrote and it talks of the fall of Chitradurga Palaiyakkarars under the hands of Hyder Ali. His another historical novel based on Chitradurga's history is Kambaniya Kuyilu and its sequels Tirugubana and Raktaratri. He also wrote a novel called Shilpashree which is based on Chavundaraya, the person who commissioned the statue of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola. For nearly two decades, much of the historical source material for his numerous novels were sufficed by the eminent Indian historian S. Srikanta Sastri. S. Srikanta Sastri even wrote an erudite and scholarly foreword to one of Ta. Ra. Su.'s famous novels – "Nrupatunga".[6] TaRaSu experimented with various narrative styles and was the first author to introduce the stream-of-consciousness literary technique in Kannada.[7] He also used the Indian independence movement as a background in his novels, like Rakta Tarpana.[8] When the Navya (modernist) movement of Kannada literature was in its infancy, TaRaSu contributed to its growth by coming up with various books belonging to this genre, like his collection of short stories, Girimalligeya Nandanadalli which shows the confusion during the shift from progressive to modernist form of literature.[9]

Later life[edit]

TaRaSu had planned to write many more books but they remained incomplete. This includes his autobiography, Hindirugi Nodidaaga (As I look back). He died on 10 Apr 1984. The autobiography was completed by his wife and released in 1990.[2]


  • Akkammana Bhagya (Akkamma's fate)
  • Agni ratha – Mukti Patha
  • Aparadhi (Convict)
  • Akasmika (Unexpected) famous movie starring Dr.Raj Kumar, Geetha and Madhavi
  • Eradu HeNNu, Ondu Gandu (Two women, one man)
  • Ella Avana Hesaralle (All in His name)
  • Omme nakka nagu
  • Kambaniya kuyilu (Saga of tears)
  • Kannu tereyitu (The eye opened)
  • Kasturi kankaNa
  • KarNakashi
  • Karkotaka
  • KeerthinarayaNa
  • Kedige Vana (Forest of Kaitha flowers)
  • Khota noTu (Counterfeit note)
  • GrahaNa biTTitu (Eclipse has ended)
  • GaaLi maatu (Rumour)- Famous movie starring Lakshmi and jai Jagdesh Directed by Duari Bhagavan
  • Gruha pravesha (House warming)
  • Chandanada Gombe (Sandalwood doll)-Famous movie starring Lakshmi and Anant Nag Directed by Duari Bhagavan
  • ChandavaLLiya thoTa (Chandavalli garden)-Famous movie starring Dr.Raaj Kumar jayanthi Directed by Duari Bhagavan
  • Chakrateertha – Famous movie starring Dr.Raaj Kumar jayanthi Directed by Duari Bhagavan
  • Chadurangada mane (The chess house)
  • Jeetada jeeva (Bonded life)
  • Tirugu baana (Boomerang)-Movie starring Kalpana Directed by Duari Bhagavan
  • Durgaastamana
  • Naagarahaavu (King cobra)- SuperHit Movie starring Vishnuvardhan, Arathi, Shubaha and Ambarish directed by Puttanna Kanagal.
  • Nalku * Nalku = ondu (4 * 4 = 1)
  • Nayaki (heroine)
  • Nrupatunga[10]
  • Panjarada pakshi (Caged bird)
  • Paringama
  • Parimalada urulu
  • Parijatha
  • Purushavatara
  • Bangari
  • Bayakeya boodi (The ash of desire)
  • BiDugaDeya beDi (Seeking freedom)-Famous movie starring Lakshmi and Anant Nag Directed by Duari Bhagavan
  • Benkiya bale (Web of fire)-Famous movie starring Lakshmi and Anant Nag Directed by Duari Bhagavan
  • BeLakina beedi
  • BeLaku tanda balaka
  • BeDada magu (Unwanted child)
  • Beli meyda hola (Fence-eating crop)
  • Bhagya shilpi (Sculptor of fate)
  • Hoysaleshwara Vishnuvardhana (Hoysala emperor Vishnuvardhana)
  • Manege banda Mahalakshmi
  • Maralu setuve (Bridge of sand)
  • MasaNada Hoovu (Flower in a cemetery)
  • Margadarshi
  • Munjavininda Munjavu (Dawn to dawn)
  • Modala nota (First sight)
  • Yaksha Prashne
  • Rakta tarpaNa (Offering of blood)
  • Rakta raatri (Blood night)
  • Rajyadaaha (Lust for empire)
  • Rajya droha (Betrayal of the empire)

The novels Kambaniya Kuyilu, Rakta Ratri, Tirugu BaaNa, Hosahagalu, Vijayotsava, Rajyadaaha, Kasturi KankaNa and Durgaastamaana are part of his historical saga of Chitradurga.


  1. ^ a b Mohan Lal and Others (1992), p4185
  2. ^ a b c d e f http://www.chitharadurga.com/I_Legend.htm
  3. ^ Yogendra K Malik, p130
  4. ^ K. M. George (1992), p183
  5. ^ "Sahitya Akademi Awards 1955–2007". Website of Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  6. ^ S. Srikanta, Sastri. "Preface to "Nrupatunga" by Dr S. Srikanta Sastri". Preface. Hemantha Sahithya. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Sisir Kumar Das (1995), p268
  8. ^ Sisir Kumar Das (1995), p774
  9. ^ Sisir Kumar Das (1995), p861
  10. ^ S. Srikanta, Sastri. "Preface to "Nrupatunga" by Dr S. Srikanta Sastri". Preface. Hemantha Sahithya. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 


  • Malik, Yogendra K. (1975). Politics and the Novel in India. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 978-90-04-04243-8. 
  • Mohal Lal; et al. (1992) [1987]. Encyclpopaedia of Indian Literature. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 978-81-260-1221-3. 
  • K. M. George (1992) [1992]. Modern Indian Literature, an Anthology: Surveys and poems. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 978-81-7201-324-0. 
  • Sisir Kumar Das (1995) [1991]. A History of Indian literature. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 978-81-7201-798-9.