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Sunday, September 9, 2018

house getting demolished ~ remembering legendary writer Sujatha

His great novel “Manal kayiru’ enamoured me to read more about him. It was first published in Kumudam on Aug 1968. I perhaps had not started reading Tamil alphabets in that year and read it much later. One of his science fictions written in the early 70s “Sorga theevu” portrayed his understanding of computers and many of us even today do not understand computer better.   There were more fictions like " Moondru nimisham Ganesh, En Iniya Iyandira" and "Meendum Jeeno" which vividly captured my imagination in my formative years. His skillful mix of crime and science is unrivalled by any of the contemporary (or past) tamil writers. Sujatha wrote over 100 novels, 200 short stories, essays, stage plays, and popular articles on science. His fictional character of Gansh / Vasanth (lawyers) were extremely popular. Whilst Ganesh was the soft spoken, suave kind, Vasanth was more vibrant.

He wrote a few dramas – one was titled ‘Barathi iruntha veedu’ (the house where Barathi lived) played on drama stage by Poornam Viswanathan. Incidentally, the great Mahakavi Subramaniya Barathiyar lived in Thiruvallikkeni and here is the house in which he lived as a tenant in a small room (photo of Sri Narthana Krishnar Sesha vahana purappadu on the day next to Sri Jayanthi)

Do you own a house – is that ancestral property or bought with your savings as you grew ?  ..  a 22 year old unmarried woman played by Archana has the burning desire to own a house – the owner of her tenement want the people to vacate. She is unable to find another house as rents have sky-rocketed.  She gets into the act of making a home and finds people deserting & cheating  her at every stage – and when the house is closer to completion, an official lands questioning them and informing that site had already been acquired by another authority.  That was Balu Mahendra film ‘Veedu’ – the music of Illayaraja was exhilarating. The film won award for the Best Tamil film at a National level.  ‘Veedu’ is the central theme of this post ~ not the film !!

Legendary writer Sujatha (genius who was named Srirangam Rangarajan) – my favourite writer passed away in 2008.  An engineer by profession, he  played a prominent role in the development of the electronic voting machine. The most learned man who was at ease with Science & technology had the knack of reaching out to masses with his simple lines, and taking them to higher echelons.  He made his readers understand and read more Science. 

Sujatha (writer penned in the name of his wife) was born and lived in Triplicane, later at Srirangam, lived in Delhi & Bangalore and spent his last days in Chennai. His writings have made such an impact that whenever one reads a story with some tinge of technology and interesting reading, there would be attributes likening to that of Sujatha.  Sujatha wrote a number of science fiction stories in Tamil and has sought to explain science in very simple terms to a layman. He routinely used to answer science questions in magazines like Junior Vikatan. His science FAQ has been released as separate books called En, Etharku, Eppadi and Athisaya Ulagam by Vikatan publications. With "Katradhum, petrathum" in Anantha vikatan and "Sujatha Bathilgal" in Kungumam he sought to explain many complicate issues in a simple languid manner.

'Lateral thinking' was a hallmark techniques fluidly used by him. He had the uncanny knack of explaining some of the most difficult scientific concepts with amazing ease. .  some of his novels got translated to movies -  first among them were – Gayathiri, Rajni / Sridevi starrer Priya and Karaiyellam Senbagapoovu.  Kamal flopper  Vikram,  was written by him. He penned dialogues for the movie 'Roja' (directed by Maniratnam). He was associated with Shankar movies -  Anniyan, Indian, Mudhalvan, Sivaji.  I felt ‘Enthiran – the robot’ was a poor cousin of his classic ‘En Iniya Iyanthira and Meendum Jeano’.   He was also a co-producer for the banner MediaDreams which went on to produce critically acclaimed bio-pic, Bharathi, of the great Tamil poet Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar.

This is no post on Sujatha novels, essays, Science, dramas, cinemas and more – the exceptionally talented personality had great knowledge of Srivaishnavam and often quoted ‘Nalayiradivya prabandham’ – Azhwars and more .. ..  his passing away was indeed sad .. today, as Perumal Avani Amavasai purappadu crossed South Tank Square Street – this house was falling under the hammer literally – being demolished .. .. .. the house next had been brought down and apartment construction has been going for a couple of years ~ but this building makes news, makes me feel sad – for have heard from people that it is the house once associated with the legend Srirangam Rangarajan aka Sujatha.

Ode to the building ~ Sujatha’s memories would never die.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th Sept. 2018.