RAJAGOPAL alias R.R. Gopal, the editor and publisher of the Nakeeran group of publications, set out in journalism as a layout artist two decades ago. The early '80s marked the beginning of sensational political journalism in Tamil. Junior Vikatan and Tharasu were the first two publications to capture the imagination of the public.
Gopal was the layout artist for Tharasu. He provided the collages for the cover. He would rework photographs to suit the theme of the lead story. His covers became instant hits. When he fell out with Tharasu, Gopal started his own publication. Thus was born Nakeeran 10 years ago. Today, it sells 2,50,000 copies and prints two issues a week.
Over the years, Nakeeran has been in the news. It was the first publication to face the wrath of Jayalalitha. AIADMK men allegedly attacked and killed Ganesan, the magazine's printer. Later, when the magazine managed to get hold of the biography of 'Auto' Shankar, the multiple killer awaiting the gallows, it became a major issue. The state government tried to get the serial stopped, but Gopal took the case to the Supreme Court and till date the judgment in the case stands as an example of the right to freedom of expression.
Gopal takes pride in getting his scoops without the advantage of state-of-the-art infrastructure: "We don't have colour pages, but our news is colourful. Our television interview was shot on a home VHS recorder. But it makes news because of the content. If you have initiative, you can do wonders in the media, immaterial of the level of sophistication of your infrastructure." And he has proven just that.
Whether he is planning an interview with Veerappan or investigating a government scandal, Gopal works quietly with his reporters. "I like to do my work without shouting about it," he says. Nakeeran is fearless journalism. Perhaps a trifle too gutsy.