Book: Nylon Kayiru (Tamil)
Author: Sujatha alias Rangarajan
Bottom-line: “Nylon Kayiru” ties you to it.
If you wish to get used to reading Tamil short stories and novels, you can start with Sujatha a.k.a Rangarajan. They are easy to understand, light and manage to be page turners. Thanks to discussions with my uncle recently, I learnt quite a few things about Sujatha and his work and now I have a list of novels to read. I started with “Nylon Kayiru”. You could, too. This story was published first as a 14-part series in the magazine, Kumudham, in the year 1968 over a period of 14 weeks. Here is a quick review of the novel.
Krishnan, a 30-something year old man, is strangled to death in his apartment. Circumstantial evidences point to a suspect name Dev, who is actually innocent. He is tried in court. But thanks to his competent defense attorney, Ganesh, the verdict emerges as “not guilty”.
Ramanathan, Superintendent of Police, Mumbai comes across the case. He learns that the Mumbai police, in order to close the case, hastily tried to pin the crime down on somebody innocent. He is a senior officer, about to retire in the next fifteen days. But because his peers messed up, this case piques his interest and he gets involved in it. As he studies the case further, it becomes a personal obsession for him to find the murderer. He looks at this case as something that would complete his 29-year old career as a detective. Therefore it is important that he track down the murderer. He takes this on as a final challenge for himself before his retirement.
On the one hand, there is this plot and on the other,we are shown small, random excerpts from an eighteen year old girl’s personal diary. These excerpts form the beginning of every chapter.
How Ramanathan narrows down the killer, how his “detective instincts” help him along the way, how the random excerpts from the girl’s personal diary finally fit in the plot form the rest of the story.
Sense of humour, characterization and more
Now, this plot may seem familiar to anyone who has read a few English thrillers, perhaps. There is no denying that. But Sujatha does own this in his style. His way of story-telling easily stood out from the rest during his time. There were apparently many people who tried to copy his style, but to no avail. Also to be considered is the time when the book was published- 1968. With the technology and security measures available today, this story may present no case now. But it would be unfair to judge this work based on the improvements that have occurred after it was published.
Having said that, I’ll move on to what I enjoyed about the book. Dialogues, for sure. For instance, here is a scene from the book. This reveals nothing important about the plot, so no spoilers.
Context: After Dev is pronounced “not guilty”, Ganesh and he, along with Dev’s sister dine out to celebrate.
தேவ்: ஆமாம். நான்தான் இல்லை என்று தீர்ந்துவிட்டதே. யார் செய்தார்கள் இந்த குற்றத்தை?
வேய்ட்டர் பில்லுடன் வந்தார்
“இவனாகக்கூட இருக்கலாம்“, என்றான் கணேஷ்.
Dev: Okay, so tell me this. Now that it has been proved that I am not guilty, who did actually commit the crime?
The waiter arrived with the bill.
“Could even be this guy”, said Ganesh.
This is not ROFL funny like Crazy Mohan’s for example, but that’s not the point. It’s funny in its own way – the poor waiter! There are so many dialogues in the story that are witty and written in a way that gels well with the context. You can easily pick out Sujatha-style dialogues.
Another quick one that comes to mind is from a scene from the movie, “Aydha Ezhuthu”.
Madhavan enters Meera Jasmine’s house to get her. Being the rogue that he is, he picks up a fight with her parents who refuse to let their daughter go with him. There is a third person in the house – their neighbour, who interferes in this argument.
Madhavan gets angry and says something like this to the neighbour (an old man, visibly holding a magazine): “Yov, unakkennya? OC la Anandha Vikatan padikkavandhavan dhane nee”
Now this is something Sujatha would write. Dialogues like these are his signature.
Another factor to mention is the characterization. There are some attributes that are assigned to every character that make them memorable. Ganesh comes across as handsome and charming, with an air of confidence about him. Ramanathan keeps using the term – “Right?”. Details such as these give life to a character, which is important for any story. This one has it.
That’s about it. If you are looking for something to read this weekend, and you want to try a Tamil novel, this is recommended. Read it and let me know what you think.