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Sujatha - His Life, His Works
27 Sep, 2019

Sujatha  -  his life, his works

While celebrating some of those writers who had made their indelible footprints in the sands of time last year, the focus was on the works of Kalki, Indira Parthasarathi, Pudumaipithan, Thi Janakiraman, Jeyakanthan and Choodamani. The cynosure of today Sujatha, is an epoch by himself.  The documentary on Sujatha, screened at Narada Gana Sabha could not have come with a better introduction.

Sujatha was a multi-faceted writer and always the element of wonder oozed in his writings. This man was ready for challenges and showed amazing bravado in encountering them. He made the entire Tamil reading community walk the path of science. He was a store-well of knowledge and was a real writing machine.

He was born as Rangarajan in the year 1935 in Triplicane but as his father had a transferrable job had to be with his grandmother and completed his schooling in Srirangam, graduated in Physics from St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchi and then got admitted to MIT (Madras Institute of Technology) in Chennai.

After working in the Civil Aviation Department of Govt. of India for 15 years, he moved over to BEL (Bharath Electronics Ltd.) where he functioned as GM in the Research Wing (Radar). It was there that he gave shape to the EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) for which he was given a special VASVIK award.

He was riveted by the short story and his first production came in 1958 in the magazine Sivaji. Realizing his potential, Sri Kasthuri Rangan assigned to him the “last page” (கடைசிப் பக்கம்) of the magazine Kanaiyaazhi (கணையாழி) where he became a trend-setter in column-writing which included, traditional literature, modern literature, sangam literature of the Tamils, his take on contemporary events, science and other new information that caught his eye. His short story Idadhu Orathil  (இடது ஓரத்தில்) got published in the commercial magazine Kumudham in the year 1962.  As there was another Rangarajan already in this magazine well known to readers as Ra Ki Rangarajan, in order to avoid needless confusion our “ Rangarajan” became Sujatha, assuming the name of his dear wife.

His writing belonged to a style hitherto unknown, unheard of, was known for its buoyancy, had a vast domain and an urgency to get to the reader. He also gave due recognition to readers’ intelligence and satisfied the demands that were in his mind. He also introduced many writers to the Tamil audience, who attained name and fame. His detective stories became very popular, with his fans establishing a rapport with the detectives Ganesh-Vasanth. His Nylon Rope, Odathe, Padhavikkaga, Anithavin Kathal Kathai, Pirivom Sandhippom, Kanavuth Thozirsalai, the many dramas which Poornam Visvanathan had performed , his Ratham Ore Niram (ரத்தம் ஒரே நிறம்)based on the sepoy mutiny, bear testimony to the diversity that his writing took to. After retirement he embraced the tinsel world. While many of his works were made into films with his permission, the first film with Sujatha’s dialogues was K Balachandar’s, Ninaithale Inikkum (நினத்தாலே இனிக்கும்).

He became dialogue-writer for a host of prominent directors, Manirathnam, Cheran, Rajiv Menon, Shankar and many others and a sample list of successful films were Muthalvan, Anniyan, Kannaththil Muthamittal, Roja, Kandukonden Kandukonden, Paandavar Bhoomi. Director Shankar in a clipping that was played says, “Sujatha was a person who had no pretensions and brevity of expression was his amazing quality. He was able to capture the essence in a few words, all power-packed.”

One is an eye-witness to the kind of the roar that was evoked when the dialog linking the on-screen film Sivaji, the Boss (of Rajinikanth) to Parasakthi of Nadigar Thilagam, was heard/seen.(This clipping was played). The last film Sujatha worked was also a Rajini starrer, Endiran. He was at the height of his fame, but that never went to his head nor did it change his lifestyle in any manner.

He wanted science per se’ to reach the common man and did this through the media which created an awareness, an interest in the ordinary people of this country. For this the National Council for Science and Technology gave him an award in 1993. He released a science dictionary (English to Tamil) and started the first internet magazine (மின்னம்பலம் - Minnambalam).

True to Indian tradition, Sujatha evinced a natural interest in spirituality and delved deep into our old time literature. He has written explanatory notes for Purananuru, Thirukkural and Vaishnavaite literature. His book En Etharku Eppadi (ஏன்? எதற்கு? எப்படி?) ought to have its presence in every house. There is nothing that has not been told in this book and whatever has been said is exhaustive in its measure. From the last page of Kanayazhi to the final Katrathum Petrathum (கற்றதும் பெற்றதும்) one cannot but get the impression that this personality did not leave any field untouched. And in all this he retained a young man’s vibrant mind till the very end.

He breathed his last on 27th February, 2008. His works will stay on to see centuries, not to be interred with his bones but will continue to live after him.  (அவரது படைப்புகள் சாகா வரம் பெற்று விளங்கும்)

(This write-up is based on a documentary screened on 27th September, 2019, scripted by Dharini Komal and narrated by C V Chandramohan)

S. Sivakumar

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