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Home > India > News > Columnists > A Padmanabhan

Tribute: Sujatha will live with us through his work

February 29, 2008

Sujatha's demise is an irreparable loss to the Tamil literary world. A prolific writer who covered everything under the sun ranging from social character to metaphysics, Sujatha was aware of all what transpired in the society, observed them, analysed them and always ensured these reflected in his writings. His sharp intellect made him "live" in his writings and he "lived" till his death.

Oru Iniya Malai Phozhudu (short story), Nylon Kayaru (detective fiction), Jeano (scientific fiction), Kanaiyazhiin kadaisie pakkangal (collection of last pages of the literary magazine Kanayazhi) and Ezhuththum Vaazhkkayum (collection of articles) will remain impressionable in every one of his readers.

His Srirangathu Devathaigal stands alone for the presentation of the characters in the town of Srirangam. His Gundukkannama is a legendary figure. An alert and gorgeous yet foul smelling destitute, only few would have answered her mathematical puzzles. Sujatha was always alert to the views expressed by his readers. When he wrote a sequel to Devathaigal, he incorporated in the characters some of the insights that the readers gave him.

In recent months, his yearnings turned towards to Vainavam and he demonstrated his depth of Divaprabhandam in his latest writings serialised in the magazine Kalki. His Alwarkarkal - Oru  Elia Aaarimugam is a real contribution to Vainavam taking it to the laymen and initiate them into Bhakti literature.

In simple language and with ample historic references, he presents the Azhwars, the period during which they lived, the environment of their period, their comprehension and their compassion for others.

He also had close association with the film world. Ninaithale Inikkum (Balachander), Roja [Images] (Mani Ratnam), Indian (Shankar) and Nadodi Thendral (Bharathi Raja) were some of the movies in which he collaborated with great directors spanning several decades.

But that did not stop him from saying in an interview that his stories have not been properly converted into films. He made it clear that it was not the directors he was criticising, but said he felt the medium was different. He said that in cinema, since the stakes are high, compromise was not just a common term but a natural term.

He had mentioned that when he handed over the completed script for Robot (based on En Iniya Iyanthra and Meendum Jeano), he told Shankar that he had completed his work satisfactorily and that it will be his last film.

In his Vivathangal, Vimarsanangal one can see the real Sujatha. It is full of humour and satire. He categorises interviewers into three types. The first are people who come with set notions that the subject is a nobody and that what s/he has written is rubbish. The second are people who try to insinuate you and see whether you use any unparliamentary words and hang on to it. The third are the self-proclaimed intellectuals � those who speak about Marxism, existentialism and radical sociological approach and let the subject know that they are well-versed with Sartre and Weber.

The book contains interviews Sujatha had given to publications like Padigal, Thuklak, Cinema Express, Kunkumam, Malaimurasu. It includes his book review, social reviews, reviews of journals and writings of leading writers. This is where you see the real Sujatha.

He was never exclusive to the print media. He has left a lasting imprint on the electronic media too with his stories, screenplays, dialogues for several Tamil dramas and television serials.

He has a web page where one can see the dos and don'ts of the art of good writing. He has drawn thousands of youngsters to Tamil literature with his modern and interesting style. He encouraged a lot of young writers and has always guided them to write better -- a rare phenomenon among Tamil writers.

He has received Central and state awards. The National Council for Science and Technology honoured him for making science familiar to the public through media. He received the VASWIK award for his work on the Electronic Voting Machine and Kalaimaman award from the Tamil Nadu government.

His unique style and his prolific nature earned him a large audience. His first story was published in 1953 in Sivaji magazine. Apart from his numerous poems and columns, he has written more than 80 novels, 150 short stories, 10 science books, 10 plays.

In 1982, when his father died, he wrote a moving and well-appreciated article, Appa, Anbulla Appa (Dad, my dear dad) that increased his fan following overnight.

He has explained in simple Tamil scientific concepts. He also compiled a list where he had coined the Tamil words for computer terms. It was Iravadam Mahadevan, the then editor of the Tamil daily Dinamani, who gave him the liberty and column inches to dabble in explanatory science articles.

His most recent book Thiraikadhai Ezhudhuvadhu Eppadi (How to write a screenplay) was also well-received.

In the Web site Ambalam.com, he wrote about computers, Tamil classics, the town in which he grew up Srirangam, and Tamil cinema.

He strode like a colossus in the Tamil literary world. He had a clear perception of what he wanted to write, in turn helping him keep it crisp, effective and knowledgeable. He lives in his words. Kannadasan took Tamil verse to the laymen through his simple lyrics. Sujatha reached the laymen through his simple prose.

Every writer has his own style and perception that is characteristic of them and in turn immortalises them. Sujatha will, like Kalki, T Janakiraman, Devan, Kannadasan, Pudumaipiththan, La Sa Ra, live with us through his writings.

The beauty of literature is that the void created by the demise of a writer is filled by the work he created. And Sujatha has left us with much more than just what is needed to fill the void.


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