The writings of Subramania Bharati represent an era but are relevant at these times of turbulence as it was during the pre and post independence times. A contemporary of Rabindranath Tagore, Bharati belongs to the legion of artists who remain unrecognized during their lifetime but go on to gain enormous fame later. Who Owns that Song by AR Venkatachalapthy traces the battle for Subramania Bharati’s copyright, at a time when it was unheard of.
The author introduces us to the great poet and nationalist Bharati was. The educated and well-read person that Bharati was lets him earn respect. His writings were fire and he of course struggled to make a living out of his writings. The narrative not only takes us through the live of Bharati but a web of people he was involved with or those involved with his writings and its ownership. The detailed sketch lets one imagine the novel as a period drama set in the small village of Ettayapuram and branches out to be pan India over the course. With his life runs parallel the glimpses of freedom struggle, nationalist movement and the Swadeshi Movement. Bharati ‘s legacy is reconstructed through true, eventful plots and also tackles the question of who does an artist belong to.