Jnanpith for Jayakanthan

Jayakantan, winner of the Jnanpith award this year is one of the writers I’m proud to have read. And read again. And again now, thanks to the internets. And (cliché alert!) yes, the Jnanpith just went up a few notches in esteem.

His writing is minimalist: businesslike, brisk, and shorn of adornments. The content always takes precedence over presentation. Not for him the verbal flourishes of a Marquez or even Le Carre. Writing was but a medium to showcase his ideas – his brilliant, radical and often controversial ideas. He courted controversy, and reveled in shocking conventional sensitivities. He went on to write for a few films, and even directed a couple. Another medium.

A staunch Marxist, he was a fixture on Theekadhir, a red “newspaper” that my uncle used to buy – my first introduction to the man. Later, I read Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and walked around for a few days swelling with pride – that works like this existed in Tamil and that I had read it.

This article in the Indian Express is an evocative, incisive tribute by Jayathirth Rao. No one could’ve said it better. Link through India Uncut.

Jayakantan, however, is much more than the mere aggregation of his inherited traditions. He is, above all, an individual with a sense of the future, one who makes his or her own future, a future which is usually coloured with hints of an optimistic dawn about to happen. His masterstroke is to revisit the past and examine the possibility of different futures…

On another note, why is it that all the artists in my life bleed so red? Le Carre, Jayakanthan. And Illayaraaja who started off his career singing Communist propaganda songs. Sheer chance maybe. Or perhaps, God willed it thus.

4 thoughts on “Jnanpith for Jayakanthan”

  1. Later, I read Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and walked around for a few days swelling with pride – that works like this existed in Tamil and that I had read it………..

    Just felt the same thing 2 weeks ago. I am extra-proud because I have never learnt Tamil at school – so I had to work really hard at reading literature in the language.
    My mom mailed me the book grumbling that the postage cost more then the book. what can I say it is so worth it except the last chapter which I simply could not digest.

    I thought the movie ending was bad – this was worse but forget that…..

    Have you seen the movie? You must have. A friend who heard me go on and on said ” Oh, you have fallen in love with Lakshmi, haven’t you?”.
    can’t think of anyone else who could have carried it of so well..

  2. Welcome to the world of contemporary Tamil literature. You’ve sampled possibly the best it has to offer, and unfortunately there is not much more to choose from…

    I haven’t watched the movie yet :(. Maybe I will if I can lay my hands on a decent copy around here.

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