Tuesday, 9 September 2008


There is something or the other happening in the city, some activity which is of interest to someone – not just music concerts or dances, but lectures, talks, heritage and nature walks, even marathon walks (more on this later). Something to interest everyone. The release of a new publication is just one of these.

And interesting things do happen here, too.

September 8 was the 95th birthday of the prolific writer, Devan, whose immortal creations include ‘Thuppariyum Sambu’. When ‘Kizhakku Padippakham’ decided to republish five books of Devan, writer Charukesi, who heads the Devan Memorial Trust, decided to make it an occasion. With Badri Seshadri of New Horizon Media Private Limited, (of which 'Kizhakku Pathippakam' is a part) extending his full cooperation, Charukesi made it an evening to remember at the Sivakami Pethachi Auditorium. Cricket lovers might remember Badri as one of the founders of CricInfo.com

Badri and Charukesi

In his welcome speech, Charukesi mentioned the newsletters that are brought out regularly by the English publication houses, which announce their new releases. He thought it would be a good idea if newsletters in Thamizh could also be published with similar announcements of new writings.

Writer Asoka Mitran released the books which were received by writer Vannanilavan, who has this wonderful policy (in the light of the speech to come) of not making speeches. After releasing the books, Asoka Mitran, who is 77, spoke for about half an hour. But what his speech had to do with the day remains a mystery. He drew comparisons between Devan and his contemporary Kalki, not totally flattering. He pointed out that the diffident nature of Devan was in stark contrast to the ebullience in his writings - the only relevant remark. And went off at a tangent, providing great entertainment to me and my companions.

The highlight of the day was a first. The speeches were followed by the dramatised reading of a short story by Devan, called ‘Parvathiyin Sangalpam’, by Gurukulam Boys’ Company. No sets, but the cast did have a bit of make up on, and wore costumes to place the story in the 1950s. They each had a copy of the play from which they read out their parts, well, acted their parts would be more appropriate. Obviously the cast had had no time to learn the lines by heart, since the function had been organised in a short four days, and the deficit was camouflaged by this ploy. The reading took about an hour. The actors were all amateurs, busy with other professions - one of the ladies works with BSNL, another person at a bank, and the young girl is a student at REC, they said.

The dramatised reading gave me an idea. What if more Thamizh works were dramatized and recorded on audio cassettes, with the actors reading out the parts, in today’s culture of ‘No time to read’, they might go down well with booklovers. (Just like the audio cassettes of famous novels which are so popular in the West). And many may be tempted to actually read the originals.

The recently published volumes, Lakshmi Kadaksham, Mr. Vedantam, Justice Jagannathan, Kalyani and CID Chandru, were on display and for sale at the venue.


Swarna said...

Good reading!
And good idea, about the audio versions. But I wonder if busy lives can let the ear remain tuned for even a short while!

Webradio said...

Hello !

Good idea to listen while you are busy...

N.B. : You're good for my riddle of the day ...

See You soon.

Anonymous said...

Great idea. Especially since most literate Indians are illiterate in the tongues they speak so well. Even if I had the time to read I wouldnt be able to read these books...

flowergirl said...

Charukesi celebrates Devan book release. The said book/s are released by A Mitran to Vannanilavan. Mitran then makes rambling speech, but nevertheless speech is funny! Then there is a play reading.

Oh I missed out Badri... where did he fit in let me see... aah he is sponsor?

I think I shall go by some Devan books.. hopefully they have fewer characters in their plot/s?!

Gretchen said...

I love going to book releases. :) I get books on audio to listen to on my drives to work. Makes the trip seem to go faster. :)

Kat said...

Thank you Raji for walking us through a different world-of-authors-and-books. Read spellbound.

Your suggestion is a good one - audio cassettes. While reading books thrills... perhaps one has to compromise, to catch up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Raji for sharing this. You're right that English language books get all the glamour and publicity, and it's time that changed. The audio idea is a good one, I think - they could be made into Podcasts as well.

kallu said...

Thanks Raji. Good to know the happenings in Tamil literati too.
And nice interesting take on people there.
I havent heard any English books on audio so I really dont know how tamil stories would sound - like 'oli chitram' on radio? it would be good then with the right voices.
We could at least listen in the kitchen.

Kat said...

Hello Kalyani... middle age is catching up? :) Of course you've heard of English books on audio..!

Do read the discussion in your blog http://middle-spot.blogspot.com/2008/02/thousand-splendid-suns-by-khaled.html

(sorry Raji for replying in your forum)


Kat, you are most welcome to use my blog space. And I salute your memory for others' posts and their comments!

Indrani said...

I have never been to a book release yet, and audio books are a great idea!

kallu said...

Kat, I meant that I hadnt heard an audio book- not that I hadn't heard of them.
Great memory:-

Revathi R said...

New Horizon Media does release audio books - in English as well as Tamil. The book on MS by Veeyesvee in the audio format is really a good one.Details here - http://nhm.in/audiobook/641/MS%20-%20Vazhve%20Sangeetham%20-%20Audio%20Book
The print edition of this book was releases a year ago. May be we would listen to Devan's writings soon!


Swarna, sometimes it is different to concentrate if you are working. But when you are doing mindless jobs like dusting etc., you can enjoy these.

Webradio, I agree.

Anonymous, good point.

Flowergirl, Good if some Devan books get bought!

Gretchen, yes. Thanks for dropping by.

Kat, reading is the best, listening is only for those who don't have the luxury of time.

Kamini, thanks. My emphasis is more on the dramatised readings rather than just plain readings - you know, a different voice for each character.

Thanks Kallu.

Indrani, we must set that right. Let's have you here for the next.

Revathi, thanks for giving the info and the link.