Thursday, 5 July 2018

Balakumaran: A writer who lives after death

One of the iconic writers and novelists of his age in Tamil, Balakumaran has traversed a lot of realms, including novels, short stories, spirituality, and cinema. He represented an era of Tamil literature that predominantly wooed the middle-class.

Source: Vikatan
Today being the first birth anniversary after the life loss of this ace writer that literature lost in May this year, I want to look back at his five best works, each, as a novelist and dialogue writer.


Udayar (series):

Based on the adult life of the Chola dynasty's colossus Arulmozhi Thevan, also popularly known as Raja Raja Cholan, this novel is unofficially credited as a sequel to Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan series.

If Ponniyin Selvan was the tale about young-adult Raja Raja Cholan,  Udayar dealt with the period when the emperor was not in the rule and also the span of time he made serious attempts and constructed the Thanjai Peruvudayar Kovil that is well-known as Big Temple.

To 'live the life' of Raja Rajan, Balakumaran travelled to all the cities, towns and hamlets the Chola emperor had travelled. It was because of this that Udayar has the right vibes believe literary enthusiasts, who consider the series his masterpiece.

Mercury Pookkal:

This novel is acclaimed as one of Balakumaran's best narrations. With a Left-wing touch, Balakumaran, who was a socialist and tractor industry employee, authored this book on the struggles of an employee union of a tractor manufacturing unit. Known for his real-time narration, this novel is also considered part autobiography.

Mercury Pookkal's USP was the way it detailed every single obstacle faced by a factory worker, that was influenced by the corporate on the one side and political forces on the other. The name of this novel was later used as the title of a Tamil romantic drama flick, starring Srikanth and Meera Jasmine, in 2006.

Thalaiyanai Pookkal:

This novel brought Balakumaran a mass of female readers. Based on the story of a middle-class lifestyle and a joint family, this novel focused a lot on women empowerment and responsibilities.

As the struggles of the protagonist in the story were relatable to middle-class readers, this novel became popular among women. First published in the 1980s, it was later adapted as a Tamil TV serial of the same name in 2016.

Irumbu Kudhiraigal:

With a metaphorical title to represent highway trucks, this novel was based on the lives of lorry drivers who had to go through a lot of emotional stress and sexual desires when they are away from home for a long time.

Like Udayar, Balakumaran travelled in a lot of lorries on the highways to understand the life of lorry drivers before writing this novel.

Idharkuthaane Aasaipattaai Balakumara:

This novel deals with a portion of Balakumaran's life when he was in the cinema industry. As a writer who ardently wished to be part of the cinema fraternity and later regretted that a lot for being exploited, Balakumaran wrote this novel with a mild touch of humour.

Source: Vikatan
Later, in an interview, he sarcastically said, "One has to be like a cobbler when working for a movie. If you write for Rajini, make a footwear suiting Rajini's feet, and for Kamal, make for Kamal's foot size." The title of this novel was lifted for a movie starring Vijay Sethupathi, in 2013.


Naayagan - 1987:

The legacy Balakumaran created in this movie with the dialogue 'Neenga Nallavara Kettavara' follows the hero of this movie Kamal Haasan till date in movies like Uthama Villian and Vishwaroopam series.

In a very intense and emotional plot of a don's life, Balakumaran's dialogues elevated the movie to international standards, winning this movie awards and credit overseas.

Gentleman - 1993:

Collaborating for the first time with a debutant director, Balakumaran's work in this movie is relatable even to the present scenario. The dialogues on corruption persisting in medical education and the caste discrimination in getting a seat in a medical college are incisive.

Some of the dialogues of this movie were recalled by social media freaks during NEET protests and the death of medical aspirant Anitha in 2017.

Baasha - 1995:

The famous dialogue 'Naan oru thadava sonna' was written by none other than Balakumaran. The strong point of the movie, starring Rajinikanth, that made it a cult film, was its dialogues, written by Balakumaran. Though they are simple on paper, they had a tremendous effect in the movie.

Lines like 'Unmaya Sonnen', 'Sollunga... sollunga', and 'Indianaala pesama irukka mudiyaathu' are still used in memes by youngsters even after two decades since the release of the movie.

Manmadhan - 2004:

When the entire cinema world thought that Balakumaran can never make a work that satisfies youth of the 21st century, he came up with sharp dialogues in Manmadhan. With a story and screenplay by Simbu,  Manmadhan's dialogues were the work of Balakumaran.

The most memorable scene in this movie is where the elder brother tries to convince the younger twin from not committing suicide, while the younger one bursts out with the significance of love in one's life. It is still a lively dialogue even today.

Pudupettai - 2006:

One of the epic gangster movies of all-time in Tamil cinema, the dialogues of Pudupettai written by Balakumaran, had a unique pattern.

As the movie deals with the evolution of a don in over a decade, the dialogues and words evolve along with him. 'Romba aadakoodathu pa. Aaduna ipdithaan,' dialogue at the end, conveys the entire plot in a single line in the climax of the movie, when Kokki Kumar, played by Dhanush, speaks to his newborn child.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, July 5, 2018.

A part or complete version of this listicle by Santhosh Mathevan has appeared in This is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only. Photos/images appearing on the post are sourced from various sites across the web.