Paler Lankeshappa, popularly known as P Lankesh, is one of the famous personalities that Kannadigas claim as their own. He was a novelist, academic and film director and his strongest claim to fame was as the Director of the tabloid, Lankesh Partike.
His Early Years
Palegar Lankeshappa, born on the 8th of March 1935 was a native of Konagahalli, a village in Karnataka’s Shimoga district. He received his primary and secondary education at Konagahalli and Haranahalli. He moved to Shimoga to complete his graduation.
P Lankesh received his Master’s degree at Mysore University. He returned to Shimoga and started on a teaching career. Having moved to Bangalore in 1962, he started teaching at Bangalore University.
His Early Career
A year after moving to Bangalore, P Lankesh published his first collection of short stories under the title ‘Kereya Neeranu Kerege Chelli’. He continued writing short stories and also a novel, Biruku. He translated English epics like Oedipus Rex and Antigone into Kannada.
In 1977, he quit his career as an academic to direct ‘Pallavi’ which was an adaptation of his novel Biruku. This movie won Lankesh the National Award for Best Direction. Other movies directed by Lankesh include Ellindalo Bandavarulu, Khandavideko Mamsavideko, and Anuroopa. He wrote a story, Deeviri, which was later adapted for the screen by his daughter, Kavitha Lankesh.
The films Samskara and Pallavi also starred P Lankesh in important roles.
His Career as a Journalist
Lankesh quit his career as an academic to launch his tabloid Lankesh Patrike in 1980. This was a weekly tabloid which specialised in targeting politicians and other personalities of repute. The newspaper was criticised for being just a tad away from yellow journalism and used by Lankesh to target people with whom he had a bone to pick.
The language in the tabloid was acidic and hard hitting. Lankesh in his editorials spared no one and exposed the nepotism, corruption and scandals plaguing the government.
P Lankesh pioneered investigative journalism in Karnataka and was the prime force behind exposes in the 1980s and 1990s – the Rama Bhandari Hostel Scandal and the expose on exam malpractices. Lankesh Patrike lambasted politicians and brought down the Gundu Rao government and later, the Ramakrishna Hegde government.
Lankesh Patrike remains P Lankesh’s most enduring legacy. Many journalists who started out as rookies with Lankesh became journalists of repute – Pundalika Shet, Mushtakh Banu and Sarah Abubakker to name a few. Lankesh came to be known as a kingmaker in political circles as he amassed support among the independent candidates for the opposition party.
His Family Members and Disputes
After his death in the year 2000, his daughter Gauri took over the newspaper. His younger daughter Kavitha directed Deeviri to win the National Award for Best Direction. His son Indrajit is a renowned director of commercial cinema.
In 2006, six years Lankesh’s death, there was a family dispute between the three children. Gauri Lankesh in her editorial was viewed as being sympathetic to the Naxalite cause in Karnataka.
Her brother Indrajit disagreed with the view and consequently Gauri was removed from the board. Gauri launched her newspaper Gauri Lankesh Patrike while Indrajit continued to publish Lankesh Patrike. The paper has sadly lost steam over the last decade.