S. Rangarajan ‘Sujatha’: The Versatile Tamil Writer & Engineer
Sujatha was one of the most popular contemporary writers of Tamil literature. S. Rangarajan was his official name. He used to write in penname Sujatha, his wife’s name. In his four decades-long career, he contributed over 100 novels, 250 short stories, ten theatres, ten books on science and a slim book on poems. He was also a columnist. He worked as an editor of the Tamil periodical Kumudam for a short term. He wrote several screenplays and dialogues in Tamil films. He was a regular topical columnist in Tamil periodicals like Kumudam, Ananda Vikatan and Kalki. In brief, Sujatha was one of the most versatile writers in the country. He wrote novels, stories, movie scripts, and scientific writing that gave him instant fame from readers of all age groups.
He was an engineer by profession. That made him an expert in the language of technology. He had a huge knowledge of his wide range of reading. He could incorporate his knowledge into a very simple and interesting Tamil language. He brought an evolution in television programs by observing when historical novels and social or family dramas ruled most Tamil programs. He picked up the essence of life from normal people. He adopted their way of talking, behavior, thought, approach to life and even slang. He incorporated real Tamil people in melodrama. This power of adaptation and courage to work out of the box made him popular among general viewers.
His greatest contribution was to the promotion of technology. He started his silicon chip creation in Dinamani Kadhir and Yen, Yedharku, and Eppadi in Junio Vikatan. His writing appeared in various Tamil periodicals and journals at a time. He was a well-known regular writer of AnandaVikaatan, Kumudam, Kalki, DhinamaniKadhir and Kungumam. Most of his novels of early time were adopted in movies and got blockbuster hits. Priya, KaraiyellamSenbagapoo, Gaytri and AnandaThandavamwere a few of those films adapted from his novels.
He also worked as a screenplay writer for several films. Vikram, Shivaji, Boys and ThirudaThiruda were a few films in his hit collection. Sujatha wrote the script and dialogues for the blockbuster Shivaji- the Boss. Superstar Rajnikanth played the lead role. He was also associated with the under-production team of Kamal Hassan’s movie Dasavataram. Apart from novels, stories, essays and script writing, he introduces the Haiku poetry to the Tamil readers. In 1976, Sujatha translated a few haiku in Tamil for the Kanaiyazhi, the literary magazine of Tamil Nadu. His writing consists of the description of both of the places, Srirangaam, Trichy and Bangalore. These places highly inspired him because he spent his earlier life in Srirangam and later shifted to Bangalore. His most popular and acclaimed novels are Rathham Ore Niram, PirivomSandhipom and KolaiyudhirKaalam. He was inspired by James Hadley Chase’s characters Vic Malloy and his assistant. Consequently, he created a pair of imaginary advocates, Ganesh and Vasanth. Ganesh is a senior intelligent advocate, and Vasanth is a cute junior advocate.
Later he limited his writing to essays like Katradhum – Petradhum and engaged more time in reading. He read old rare Tamil writing and the latest growths in information technology and the computer world.
Rangarajan was a student of the Srirangam Boys High School. Later he joined St. Joseph’s College, Trichy. He met with former President and Scientist Abdul Kalam and built close friendships with him there. He was done his graduation in BSc Physics in 1954. Then he pursued engineering in Electronics at the Madras Institute of Technology.
Stories from different popular Tamil magazines hugely inspired his writing. Shivaji, a magazine of Trichy, published his story in his student days. In 1962, his first story was published in Kumudam magazine.
His first job was at the Civil Aviation Department of India. Later he joined Bharat Electronics Limited in Bangalore. Later he transferred to Chennai. He spent his last days of life in Chennai. He was a modern thinker in the field of engineering. Rangarajan was the leading person in creating the technology of Electronic Voting Machines in India. He solely administered the design and production of the Electronic Voting Machine. This Electronic Voting Machine is now used in elections all over India. He started the development of innovative word processing before personal computers. Rangarajan inspired many writers like Balakumaran, Charu Nivedita, and Madhan.
Sujaatha was a modern and flexible writer. He wrote several stories, novels, poems, theatres, and screenplays for the films. He also wrote essays based on science in simple language. He explains complicated scientific issues in simple, easily understandable language. This quality brought him a huge readership. He used to send answers related to the query regarding science matters in different magazines, like Junior Vikatan. He has books based on Science FAQ, such as Etharku, En, Eppadi and AthistaUlagam. He also worked on SujathaBathilgal in Kumudam and Kungumam. Sujatha was the person who introduced Science fiction to Tamil. In his fiction stories, the writer came to an imagined world of Chennai in post-2020. Where gigolos and air taxis are very common affairs, and he also visited those areas of child abuse.
The eminent Tamil writer died due to multi-organ failure at 73 in 2008. He had been suffering from diabetes and had bypass surgery.
He was interested in computers, astrophysics, biotechnology, neuroscience, archaeology, Tamil literature, sociology and Carnatic music. He described science as easier to understand by the general public through his books and magazine writings. Due to this great work, he got an award from National Council for Science and Technology in 1993. He received the award of VASWIK Award for an Electronic Voting Machine. Tamil Nadu Government gave him the Kalaimamani Award. He also got the Mylapore Academy award for the best serial of Doordarshan ‘Mahan Ramanujar’. Playwriter Crazy Mohan once said about the author, “He is one of the most multifaceted writers in Tamil. His writing was terrific, consistent and extremely informative. He could write just about anything with amazing ease. Sujatha was certainly a genius”.
📎 Related Articles
1. Wikipedia: Tamil Literature
2. Wikipedia: Tamil Cinema
3. Surya Sen: The ‘Master’ Behind India’s Freedom Struggle
4. The Indomitable Spirit of Sardar Gouthu Latchanna
5. Shruti: From Tea Seller’s Daughter to Judge