May 3, 1935
Srirangam, Trichy, India
|Died||February 27, 2008
Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, India
|Occupation||Engineer, writer, novelist, scriptwriter|
|Children||Kesava Prasad, Ranga Prasad|
Sujatha (May 3, 1935 – February 27, 2008) was the pseudonym of the Tamil writer S. Rangarajan, author of over 100 novels, 250 short stories, ten books on science, ten stage plays, and a slim volume of poems. He was one of the most popular writers in Tamil literature, and a regular contributor to topical columns in Tamil periodicals such as Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam and Kalki. He had a wide readership, and served for a brief period as the editor of Kumudam, and has also written screenplays and dialogues for several Tamil movies.
Penning with his wife's name, Sujatha's Tamil literary career spanned more than four decades. An engineer by profession, he was proficient in the language of technology. Widely read and knowledgeable, he presented his knowledge in simple Tamil.
His works stood out during a time when Tamil writing was dominated by social/family dramas and historical novels. His identification with the masses, and his uncanny adoption of their way of talking, behavior, mindset and slang, helped make him popular across multiple demographic segments.
His popularization of technology was one of his greatest contributions - starting with his Silicon Chip writing in Dinamani Kadhir and Yen, Yedharku, Eppadi in Junior Vikatan. At one point, his writing was appearing in numerous Tamil weeklies and journals simultaneously, including Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam, Kungumam, Kalki and Dhinamani Kadhir. Later he contributed as script/screenplay writer for several Tamil movies. His notable movies included Vikram,Thiruda Thiruda, Boys and Sivaji. Most of his early novels/stories were made as movies, including Priya, Gaytri, Karaiyellam Senbagapoo and Anandha Thandavam, among others.
In addition to the novels, stories, essays he wrote, he helped introduce haiku poetry to Tamil audiences. Brought up in Srirangam, Trichy, and having spent most of the later part of life in Bangalore, he described both places vividly in his various writings. Among his popular novels are Pirivom Sandhipom (not related to the recent movie of the same name), Rathham Ore Niram, and Kolaiyudhir Kaalam.
He also immortalized Ganesh-Vasanth - an imaginary advocate pair serving as the main characters in most of his detective stories. Ganesh is a level-headed, senior advocate and Vasanth is his flirtatious junior advocate. The Ganesh-Vasanth pair was based on James Hadley Chase's characters, Vic Malloy and his sidekick.
In his later days he restricted his writing to essays such as Katradhum-Petradhum. He began to spend more time reading, especially old rare Tamil writings and writings on the latest developments in information technology and computing.
As an engineer, he supervised the design and production of the electronic voting machine (EVM) during his tenure at Bharat Electronics Limited, a machine which is currently used in elections throughout India. As a writer he inspired many authors, including Balakumaran, Madhan, Charu Nivedita.
Sujatha Rangarajan was born in Triplicane, Chennai but spent his childhood in Srirangam near Tiruchirapalli under the care of his paternal grandmother owing to his father's frequent transfers in his job.
He did his schooling in Srirangam Boys High School, Srirangam. He attended St. Joseph's College, Trichy, where he was a classmate of Abdul Kalam (who later became the President of India). Sujatha graduated in the 1954 class with a B.Sc. in Physics (1952–54). Later he studied engineering in Electronics from the Madras Institute of Technology. His writing interests were largely inspired by the short stories and serials published in popular Tamil magazines.
Srirangathu Devathaigal (Angels of Srirangam) is a series of short stories based on incidents in that part of the world in the 1940s and 50s. Sivaji, a minor magazine from Trichy, published a story during his student days. His first short story was published in Kumudam magazine in 1962. His Kolaiyuthir Kalam was an exciting ghost-themed novel.
He worked first in Civil Aviation Department of Government of India and later for Bharat Electronics Limited in Bangalore, India before his retirement to Chennai, India, where he lived till his last days. As an engineer, he was a forward thinker and he was the key person behind the development of the Electronic Voting Machine in India. He initiated the development of advanced word processing before the days of personal computers.....
- Vairangal (Diamonds)
- Eppothum Penn (Always a woman) - A Tamil novel influenced by Simone De Beauvoir's The Second Sex
- En Iniya Iyanthira (My Dear Machine) - A science-fiction novel in Tamil involving robots. The novel features Nila, Ravi, Mano, Jeano - a robo dog. The story is written like everything is happening in 2020 A.D.
- Meendum Jeano - a sequel to En Iniya Iyandhira
- Sorga Theevu - one of the first science fiction works in Tamil
- En? Etharku? Eppadi? - answers to questions by readers, mostly on science
- Katrathum Petrathum (I, II & III)
- Kolaiyuthir Kalam (roughly translated as The Autumn of Murders) - One of his famous detective novels in Tamil, that came as a series in Kumudam, featuring Ganesh and Vasanth. It was also made into a television serial and was aired by Doordarshan's Podhigai channel.
- Pirivom Sandhipom - Part I and Part II - A love story set in Tamiraparani which then travels to New York. Captures a glimpse of an NRI Tamil's life in the early 80s. This novel was later made into a film called 'Aanandha Thaandavam'.
- Nylon Kayiru (Nylon Thread)
- Anitha Ilam Manaivi - a crime story
- Thoondil Kathaigal - a compilation of short stories
- Srirangathu Thevathaigal a series of short stories featuring Sujatha's experiences as a boy, a youth and a man in Srirangam, depicting incidents when he was staying in his grandmother's house in Srirangam.
- "Kanayazhiyin Kadaisee Pakkangal" - a series of articles in the last pages of the magazine Kanayazhi
- Anithavin Kadhalgal
- Pesum Bommaigal
- Nirvana Nagaram
- Niramatra Vanavil
- Adhalinaal Kaadhal Seiveer
- Theendum Inbam
- Alvargal - Oru Elia Arimugam - a Simple introduction to the Geniuses of first millennium
- Kanthalur Vasantha Kumaran kathai- A historic fiction that centers around Raja Raja chozhan empire
- "Retham ore Niram"- Set in Pre-Independence period, this novel narrates the story of young man who wants to take revenge on a British officer who killed his father
The above works are not listed in chronological order.
Sujatha received an award from Government of India's National Council for Science and Technology in 1993 for making science accessible to the public through his books, magazine contributions and other media.
VASWIK Award for Electronic Voting Machine.
Kalaimamani Award from the Tamil Nadu Government.
MYLAPORE Academy award for doordharshan best serial "Mahan Ramanujar".
Style and influence
Sujatha was a versatile Tamil writer, with several short stories, novels, poems, plays, screenplays for movies, articles on popular science and other non-fiction articles, to his credit. Sujatha wrote a number of sci-fi stories in Tamil and sought to explain science in simple terms to the layman. He would routinely 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.
He worked on "Katradhum, Petradhum" in Anantha Vikatan and "Sujatha Bathilgal" in Kumudam and Kungumam.
His interests included archeology, astrophysics, biotechnology, neuroscience, Carnatic music, Tamil literature, and sociology.
Contribution to films
He extended his writing skills and expertise from science to movies. The first of these efforts were Gaayathri and Priya. In Priya, his fictional character Ganesh was played by Rajinikanth. Kamal Hassan's Vikram was written by him. He penned dialogues for the movie Roja, directed by Maniratnam. In recent times he has been associated with Mani Ratnam (for Iruvar, Kannathil Muthamittal, Aayitha Ezhuthu, etc.) and Shankar (for Boys, Anniyan, Indian, Mudhalvan, Sivaji, and Enthiran). He was also a co-producer for the banner MediaDreams, which went on to produce the critically acclaimed Bharathi, a biopic of the great Tamil poet Bhaarathiyaar.
He was working on Shankar's Enthiran before he died on February 27, 2008.