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Mainstream, VOL LII No 37, September 6, 2014

Som Benegal Is No More

Saturday 6 September 2014

Som Benegal, journalist, writer and poet passed away peacefully at the age of 92 on August 22, 2014.

He was a well-known theatre director in the 1950-60s and News Editor in the All India Radio in the 1940s. He was also a multi-media specialist in the fields of Radio, Television, Exhibition Design, and Journals since 1942. He was passionate about the independence of the media and served as the Secretary-General of NAMEDIA.

He served on various committees for the Government of India as a Media Advisor. He was a part of the Indian Cooperative Union to develop Indian handicrafts which then created the Cottage Industries Emporium.

He was known publicly for his witty one-line Letters to the Editor published in major Indian newspapers and journals and was known for his writings: “And the Old Lama Said”. He translated the Rg Veda to English, and was known for his book on Indian theatre, A Panorama of Indian Theatre (1968).

Till his recent retirement in 2011 at the age of 89, he was the Director at the Tej Press and was writing for national newspapers and magazines.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Suman Benegal, and two sons, Rahul Benegal and film-maker Dev Benegal.

In the issue of Mainstream (November 3-10, 1984), brought out after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the following box item was published:

Silence is Great

This is a letter which the Editor has received from his friend and colleague in the profession, Som Benegal:

You ask for a thousand words after the slaying of Indira Gandhi. I can barely summon ten.

I want to be far from those indulging in “the vomitting from the eyes and the weeping from the entrails”, and even further away from those who, with froth and foam at their mouth or with acid and bile in their pens, spewed their venom and hatred at Indira Gandhi till the very last moment of her life, but now utter unctuous words of praise in her death.

Rather with Alfred de Vigny I would only say: Seul le silence est grand; tout le reste est faiblesse. Only silence is great; all the rest is weakness.

November 5                 Som

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