A committed, erudite journalist (1941-2018)

Thaliyath Parambil Vittappa Ramachandra Shenoy, better known as T.V.R. Shenoy, was one of India’s most well-known journalists who distinguished himself in a career spanning nearly five decades. Shenoy was born on 10 June 1941, at Cherayi near Kochi in Kerala. His yen for writing propelled him towards a career in journalism and he took his first steps at the Free Press Journal, a newspaper published from Bombay. He then joined the Indian Express, and in 1968, shifted to the pioneering Malayalam daily from Kerala, the Malayala Manorama in Delhi where he was promoted as the Resident Editor.

One of his toughest assignments was the coverage of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan which culminated in the formation of Bangladesh. His association with the Manorama lasted for 25 years and he was the Bureau Chief of the paper in New Delhi for the entire duration. When the Manorama came out with its English weekly titled The Week, Shenoy served the periodical as its Delhi correspondent, and later took over as the Editor. His column ‘Last Word’ which continued long after he left the publication, was one of the most popular features in The Week and was read
and appreciated by a wide cross section of the readers. He also had a brief stint as Editor of the Sunday Mail during the nineties. Shenoy reportedly played a major role in uncovering and reporting on major banking and stock market scams that rocked the nation a few decades back. He is also credited with introducing graphic reportage in journalism where a cartoonist utilised the medium of sketching to illustrate a text penned by him covering various issues and matters of interest. While he had a wide circle of friends in the political echelons cutting across party lines, he also had a vital role to play in enabling the BJP under Atal Bihari Vajpayee forging links with regional parties, utilising his personal rapport with the leaders concerned.

T.V.R. Shenoy was also a very popular columnist, and he covered a whole gamut of issues including inter alia national and international politics, economy, social issues and current affairs as well. He contributed to several Indian and international publications on a continuous basis. In his role as a mentor to many budding journalists, he lent a helping hand in shaping their careers. His erudition and expertise in the field ensured that he was in demand on the lecture circuit as well. Shenoy was renowned for his vast repository of knowledge, and was even acknowledged as a ‘walking encyclopedia’. He had attained a great deal of proficiency in various subjects including ancient history, Greek mythology apart from literature, on which he was a virtual gold mine of information. Although his mother tongue was Konkani, Shenoy was extremely versatile in both Malayalam and English, and wrote extensively in
both languages.

A keen sportsman and sports lover, he represented Bombay University in badminton. He also had a flair for games like chess and bridge and indulged in his pastimes whenever he could take time off from his tight schedule. Tennis too remained one of his favourite passions and he was often sighted at Wimbledon, especially during the finals. An avid interest in classical music was instrumental in his accumulating a collection of discs and LPs of the great masters. His personal library was stacked with books on varied subjects. Friends in the fraternity paying tributes to him on his passing recounted his fine sense of humour, and also highlighted the fact that he was an avid conversationalist as well.

Shenoy was the recipient of several awards during his long tenure in journalism. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2003. He was also a recipient of an honour from the Morocco government conferred on him for the keen interest he had taken in developing friendly and amicable ties between the two nations. Shenoy breathed his last on 17 April 2018, at a hospital in Mangalore. He was 77.

C.V. Aravind

C.V. Aravind is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist.