Monday, March 03, 2008

What was Sujatha to many of his readers?

He stood for freshness. He kept reinventing his choice of words. His narrative style was always breezy.

When many writers of his generation were trying to dazzle us with their prose, his style was almost conversational. He cut down needless sentiments like குபுக்கென்று அழுதான் (the exact words used by Ra. Ki. Rangarajan in yesterday's meeting).

He constantly engaged the reader - pointing out a new poet, latest developments in technology, a rare bengali movie, explaining classical tamil literature. His interests became the interests of his readers there by expanding their horizons.

He was an idol to many a young person. Anybody who could turn a phrase liked to think of himself as a writer. But our social set up doesn't allow some one to try and be a full time writer. Hence the would be writer decides to have a day job and write in his spare time (which invariably is not spare). He wishes to succeed in his day job as well as writing. And the towering example of such a succesful multi faceted personality was Sujatha.

He was a writer who knew his limitations and worked within it.

Every reader of his felt that Sujatha was talking to him and only to him. That kind of empathy with the readers is very rare to find.

If one phrase could define him it would be mass influencer. He was given a platform by the main stream tamil media for almost 40 years, and he used it judiciously. The crowded auditorium full of his fans on a Sunday afternoon was proof of the impact he had on Tamilnadu.

I was there for the first one hour of his condolence meeting. I accept that you should not talk ill of the dead. But that doesn't mean you have to be so cloying to the point of making the audience wonder what would Sujatha have thought about his condolence meeting. Calling him the greatest modern prose writer in Tamil after Bharathi was stretching the limit too far. The man himself probably would have said "இப்படியெல்லாம் பேசுவார்கள் என்று முன்னமே தெரிந்திருந்தால் நான் செத்திருக்க மாட்டேன்”.


krishnan said...

Man; that's one hell of a claim. Did they actually say that Sujatha is the greatest prose writer after Bharathiyar? Who said that????

Anonymous said...

And, Bharathi wrote that much prose?!

Anonymous said...

I'll bet!

Anonymous said...

And zero does rise an interesting point. Is there any B...r prose. Please enlighten

Chenthil said...

Krishnan - Manushyaputhiran.

Zero - Bharati was a journalist for a long time, he worked in Swadesamithran, was editor of a magazine called India, he was the first person to introduce cartoons in tamil magazines, he wrote on various subjects from the Soviet revolution to Indian labourers in Fiji. A collection of his essays in India & Vijaya magazines were brought out as a book few years ago.

JM - as told to zero.

Anonymous said...

He also wrote those zanily engaging story of the two ropes, Kandan and Valli. That wasnt a story or essay or critique or editorial or anything but you have to read it to feel the power of his prose.

Chenthil said...

Anon - I am thrilled. This is the first time I am hearing some one talk about that story. I even tried to translate that and failed pathetically. That was magical realism even before the term was invented.

Anonymous said...

Any idea where I can read this story of the two ropes Chen?


Anonymous said...

It is called a prose-poem.

A.K. Ramanujan has translated the tale of the 2 ropes Kandan and Valliyammai for a book of essays.

Chenthil said...

Arul - The tamil version is here

JM - didn't know that. So now I have a standard to compare my attempt.

ammani said...

:) @ last line. You've got Sujatha down to a pat.

Anon who thrilled you with mention of kandan-valli said...

chenthil, thanks for that kandan-valli link. I lost my bharathiyar katturaigal book so this is a pleasant surprise.
yeah, i have hardly found anyone who mentions it