I never read books at my early age. I even had a great aversion to it. My literature intelligence was limited to Rani Comics and Siruvar Malar ( a Friday supplement of Dinamalar). My mom was a avid reader. Although her language capabilities restricted her to read only Tamil novels and short stories, she made wonderful use of it by acquiring works of good Tamil authors. She used to collect series every week from different magazines like Kalki, Ananda Vikatan and Kumudham (the quality has come down drastically in these magazines in the recent past)
When I was about 7 years old (I believe so), there was a science fiction series, which was aired in Doordarshan (Tamil), the only channel you could watch at that time. The name of the series is Yen Iniya Iyenthira. It was a story about a small Robot dog named Juno and a character named Nila, played by Sivaranjani in the future. Although it cannot be compared technically to the current TV series’, it was the Transformers of our times.
I was so engrossed in that series such that I never missed a single episode. It was the same with each and every one of my friends. I fell in love with Juno. When I asked my mom, she said it was a novel from a writer called Sujatha and it came long back before the TV series came. I was so surprised and I thought how a person could write so futuristic (I have not read Asimov at that time). I thought it was a woman who wrote that novel.
As years passed by, during my teenage times, there were two more series, which came in DD. Srirangathu Devathaigal and Kolaiyudir Kaalam, the first one is a college guy’s experience of different girls he met in his Grandma’s residence in Srirangam ( a small town near Trichy). When I was seeing that, I was thinking whether it was a woman who wrote it. Then my mom explained that it was not a woman, but a guy whose name is Rangarajan and he is writing in his wife’s name.
But Koliayudir Kaalam made me to think more about this writer, it was a murder thriller based on Holography. You can enjoy it only when you read it. The brilliance of the man is commendable that Hologrpahy as a concept came in 1979 and he wrote a novel on it in Tamil in 1982 or 1984 (I dunno the year exactly). The other important aspects are the characters Ganesh and Vasanth
I started reading his novels. The ones, which my mom had collected, and the diverse topics he had written were very surprising to me. Nylon Kairu (Nylon Rope) is a revenge story of Brother for his Sister and a two part Pirivom Santhipom (Depart and Meet) is a heart-warming love story.
Over 100 novels and 100 short stories, essays and screen plays for movies like Vikram and he worked with Shankar to make gems like Indian, Anniyan and Mudhalvan. The upcoming Rajinikanth starrer Robot is also a brainchild of this guy. He inspired me so much that I have his Screenplay Workbook, which I am using to make a screenplay.
If not for this guy Tamilians would not have known Holography, Forensic Science, the working of brain (Thalmai Cheyalagam), intricacies of laws, aliens, Robots, Super computers, cloning, neural networks, religion. God (Kadavul is a wonderful book), Electronic Voting Machine ( He was the person who headed the committee of Engineers who mad the EVM’s ) Ganesh-Vasanth and my favorite Juno.
Sujatha Alias Rangarajan was born in 1935 and did his Pre-college in St. Joseph’s College, Trichy where he was a classmate of Abdul Kalam. He did his engineering from MIT, Madras. He worked as a engineer in ISRO and BEL, Bangalore. He passed away on Feb 27th, 2008.
I have read Isaac Asimov but lot of Tamilians will not have the opportunity to read him. They had Sujatha, the Isaac Asimov of Indian Literature. I always name my laptop as Juno and I would have been happy if I had been a Robot character in his novel. And if Juno was a girl, I would have married her.
Your physical presence will not be there in this world, my favorite writer but you will live as Juno, Ganesh and Vasanth in the hearts many readers. Sometimes I feel death is so painful. I am feeling the same pain which I had when Diana, Rajiv Gandhi, and Mother Teresa passed away…Just dunno why….
My friend about Sujatha
More about Sujatha
Check this link for St. Joseph’s College photo with Abdul Kalam