TVR Shenoy: India's First 'Sangh Journalist' Who Was Demigod For An Entire Generation
Remembering TVR Shenoy, who was a father-like figure for a generation of journalists, but shocked many with his political stand.
Illustration by Mir Suhai/News18.com
A man with solid journalistic values and a politician with conviction. If there was one line to describe TVR Shenoy, this would be it.
As a rookie 22-year-old journalist from Kerala, there were only a few names whom I looked up to when I came to Delhi in 1988. Shenoy was then the Delhi bureau chief at Malayala Manorama and the resident editor at The Week. For many like me, he was nothing less than a demigod.
Everything seemed to be under a haze for beginners like me, and I always looked up to Shenoy for clarity and guidance. He was considered the most professional of the lot.
But in 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished, I saw the other side of my demigod. He justified the Babri demolition and stood his ground. “What’s wrong with demolishing a disputed structure?” he said, leaving me aghast.
Within the Sangh Parivar, LK Advani was upholding the demolition, while Atal Bihari Vajpayee was denouncing it. Shenoy, however, made no secret of his inclination and soon came to be known as India’s first ‘Sangh journalist’. He never shied away from his ideology.
For years, I couldn’t come to terms with his ideological position, but finally, I made peace with it. Much like his ideology, Shenoy never turned his back on the personal relations. And he had lifelong friends across party lines. Despite our ideological divide, I realised that Shenoy was someone who never allowed professional life to come in the way of personal life. It is true that we fought over many issues, but the underlying love and affection always held us together.
He would take juniors like me to his home and ensure that we were fed well. My admiration and respect for him only grew manifold with each dinner that he invited us to. There would be no talk of the Sangh. There would be lessons on journalism — how to approach an issue, how to tackle a story and basic rules of the game. And there would be laughter. Nobody did humour the way Shenoy did, even if it meant laughing at himself. His humour was unparalleled. Hands down, he was the life of every gathering that he was part of.
His personal life will remain incomplete if I don’t mention his wife. Three decades on, I am yet to meet a more patient and loving woman, someone who stood by her husband no matter what. Even if it meant feeding junior journalists like me at odd hours and staying up till the wee hours to see us off. She never complained. Shenoy’s biggest strength, undoubtedly, was his wife.
It is here, as I touch upon his personal life, that I must also mention about his infinite love for Kerala. Years after I had initially met him, I became the advisor to Pinarayi Vijayan, now the CM of Kerala. Shenoy made sure that he called me with suggestions on what could be the best possible plan for developing Kerala. He met Pinarayi Vijayan every time the latter was in Kerala House, before and after he became CM. His undeterred love for his hometown meant that he kept visiting Kerala and I had the privilege of being one of the people he called to meet.
I don’t look back at our fights over issues but will always look back at the numerous times he fed me, the umpteen times he made me laugh. And all the times that he taught me to be a better journalist.
His love for his juniors is something that I have not been able to pass on to my juniors. As I bid farewell to Shenoy, my demigod, I can only be thankful to have known him and to have felt his love.
(The author is MD, Kairali TV, and media advisor to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Views are personal)
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