Cho, an Endearing Satirist and More!

My first interview with Cho in the 80s when I was running a youth magazine along with some friends as a Master's student

My first interview with Cho in the 80s when I was running a youth magazine, I, along with some friends as a Master’s student. I am seated right facing Cho, who is holding a copy of “I”.

There has been no political satirist in India more loved than Cho S Ramaswamy (82), with hardly any leader having escaped his vituperative wit. He spared none – from Indira Gandhi to Narendra Modi. But they loved him too!

In his death early this morning at the Apollo Hospital, within two days after  chief minister Jayalalitha passed away (at the same hospital), India has lost a political analyst who could make people laugh and think with no axe to grind.

In August this year, when he was ill, Prime Minister Modi visited him at his home and recalled his friendship with Cho, who has been a BJP supporter.

I have been a big Cho fan and have had the opportunity to meet him a few times in the 80s and speak to him over the phone on a couple of other occasions.

MGR’s Speech: During one of them, asked about a marathon, “record-breaking” speech then chief minister MG Ramachandran (MGR) made in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, he laughed it off saying “he took so long to say so little.”

My interview with Cho Ramaswamy for The Indian Express decades ago.

My interview with Cho Ramaswamy for The Indian Express years ago.

He was more than a satirist – a multi-faceted personality who excelled in theatre, cinema, writing and journalism. A lawyer, he edited a Tamil magazine, Tughlaq, and was a cricket enthusiast.

I have watched some of his Tamil plays live and always been regaled by his performances in cinema as a comedy actor. He was much more than an entertainer.

An intellectual, he had no rancour for anyone he directed his ridicule and sarcasm at! He was living the role of a satirist to the hilt! He had no reason to show anger against anyone. Neither did he have a need to please anyone!

Driving home a message in a fun way with neither grievance nor covert motives was the mantra he wielded with ease and spontaneity. Love for the country was at the heart of it all!

India will miss him!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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