N. Sridhar: He was the bespectacled invigilator walking up and down in a exam hall in the opening scene of the K. Balachander movie ‘Poikkal Kuthirai’. It was a guest role that Mylaporean N. Sridhar played but he was not an actor in real life; rather, a transparent human being.
Sridhar who died on November 23 was a remarkable personality in his younger days and was very active in public life.
He was a magician (he went by the name Rahdirs), stock broker and secretary of public institutions. In public life he had the privilege of moving with eminent personalities of the day from giants like Rajaji, CPR, CS, actors like Nagesh, Jaishanker and also had time for Lilliputians like this writer who knew him intimately from 1967 till his ticket to travel expired.
He was an exemplary organizer of events and very dedicated Secretary of the Ranade Library and Sastri Hall for many years.
He was meticulous in checking the amenities provided in the Sastri Hall before and during the functions. The tube lights, fans the dais, the formation of chairs (more space between the chairs if less crowd was expected) the mike, drinking water and first aid box too were all taken care of by him.
He would have a audio speaker set in his room that would broadcast the events in the hall to keep track of the audio quality. To ensure continuous cash flow he encouraged sabhas that could not afford large halls to make use of the Sastri Hall. Thanks to the acoustics and ambience, many ‘mike-less’ concerts were also arranged.
The Gokhale Sastri Institute in Karpagambal Nagar was built not only with brick and mortar but also under the loving care of Sridhar.
Though he slowed down in the later years of his life, his spirit remained strong and Sridhar continued to fight for public causes. On civis issues he would address the authorities directly, with a copy of the letter marked to the Chief Minister’s Cell. This worked on many occasions and residents of Alwarpet will vouch for this.
– Reported by T. S. Gopal, Secretary of Forum of Free Enterprise (1967-77), and Mylapore resident since 1967.