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 mum was an avid reader. Although her language capabilities restricted her to read only Tamil novels and short stories, she made excellent use of it by acquiring works of good Tamil authors. She used to collect series 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 seven years old (I believe so), there was a science fiction series, which was aired on Doordarshan (Tamil), the only channel you could watch at that time. The name of the series was Yen Iniya Iyenthira. It was a story about a small Robot dog named Juno and a character named Nila, played by Sivaranjani. Although it cannot be compared technically to the current TV series’, it was the Transformers of our times.
I was so engrossed with that series so much 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 mum, she said it was a novel from a writer called Sujatha, and it got published long before the TV series. I was so surprised, and I thought how a person could write so futuristic (I have not read Asimov at that time). I initially thought it was a woman who wrote that novel.
As years passed by, during my teenage years, there were two more TV series’, which aired on Doordarshan. 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 saw that, I thought whether it was a woman who wrote it. Then my mother 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 research 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 Holography as a concept was introduced in 1979 and he wrote a novel on it in Tamil sometime in 1982 or 1984. The other important aspects of the novel were the characters of Ganesh and Vasanth.
I started reading his novels. The ones, which my mum had collected, and the diverse topics he had written baffled 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 screenplays for movies like Vikram and he worked with Shankar to make gems like Indian, Anniyan and Mudhalvan. The upcoming Rajinikanth starred Robot is also a brainchild of this guy.
If not for this guy Tamilians would not have known Holography, Forensic Science, the working of the brain (Thalmai Cheyalagam), intricacies of laws, aliens, robots, supercomputers, cloning, neural networks, religion, God (Kadavul is a beautiful book), Electronic Voting Machine (He was the person who headed the committee of Engineers who mad the EVM’s ), Ganesh-Vasanth and my favourite Juno.
Sujatha 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 an Engineer in ISRO and BEL, Bangalore. He passed away on Feb 27th, 2008.
I have read Isaac Asimov, but a 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 were a girl, I would have married her.
Your physical presence will not be there in this world but you will live as Juno, Ganesh and Vasanth in the hearts of many readers. The world is seeing how the filmmakers are struggling without Sujatha Rangarajan.
My friend about Sujatha Rangarajan
More about Sujatha