My recollections on Thamil Drama in Colombo!

கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

These’re the comments expressed by the literary critic K.S.Sivakumaran on my face book post on K. Balendra’s ‘Kannadi Vaarppukal” (Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie’s Tamil adaptation) – VNG-

These’re the comments expressed by the literary critic K.S.Sivakumaran on my face book post on K. Balendra’s ‘Kannadi Vaarppukal” (Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie’s Tamil adaptation) – VNG-

In the 1960s and 1970s, I was a keen drama critic. Having seen the Colombo North cine-dramas and Rajaratnam’s Colombo South comedies. I wrote a column called “Manathirai” in Thamil in the Thinakaran Vaara Manjari. I criticized all the slapstick presentations that went by the name Thamil Drama. This was because I read many books in English about Drama and Theatre and understood that what we witnessed were recreating Indian Thamil film sequences and using colloquial Yaalpaaana speech comedies. In 1953 or 1954, the TKS Brothers visited Colombo and staged a professional drama presentation. There was a semblance of theatricality in their presentation. I also witnessed one or two plays of the doyen of Lankan Thamil Drama-Sornalingam.

It must be 1961 or 1962, I saw a play called Mathamarram written by the late A N Kanthasamy, a writer and a Marxist thinker. When I saw that I was baffled. It was a different cup of tea for me. It was like a Shavian play. It was provoking and feast for thinking. I wrote a review of it in Tribune, now defunct.

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Nallur Rajadhani (Daily News 28 April 2004 & Friday November 7-9, 2007)

– கலை, இலக்கிய விமர்கர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன் அவர்கள் எனது ‘நல்லூர் ராஜதானி நகர அமைப்பு’ நூல் பற்றி ஆங்கிலத்தில் விமர்சனக் கட்டுரையொன்றினை இலங்கையிலிருந்து வெளியாகும் டெய்லி நியூஸ் பத்திரிகையில் அவர் எழுதி வந்த பத்தியில் எழுதியிருக்கிறார். அது 28 ஏப்ரில் 2004 வெளியான டெய்லி நியூஸ் பத்திரிகையில் வெளியானது. பின்னர் அங்கு வெளியாகிய Friday என்னும் வாரப்பத்திரிகையிலும் நவம்பர் 7-15, 2007 அன்று வெளியான பதிப்பிலும் அக்கட்டுரை வெளியாகியிருந்தது. அக்கட்டுரை வெளியான பகுதியினை அவர் அண்மையில் அனுப்பியிருந்தார். அதனையே இங்கு காண்கின்றீர்கள்.-

கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

Nallur Rajadhani ((Daily News 28 April 2004 & Friday November 7-9, 2007) By K.S.Sivakumaran

K.S.SivakumaranLanka born Canadian Thamilian V.N. Giritharan writes fiction, poetry and prose writing in Thamil. Some of his creations are  truly remarkable. His books are of interest and in fact exposes of the pattern of living in foreign claims by former Lankans. An architect (from the Moratuwa University) he is also a qualified. electrical and electronic engineering Technologist. He has wide  interests in the sciences, history and children’s literature. On top of it, he is serving a useful purpose in the Cyberspace.

While there are more than a dozen websites in Thamil promoting literary and cultural events of the Thamilians in Thamilnadu in India, it is Giritharan’s ‘Pathivukal’ e-zine that gives almost exclusively a comprehensive coverage of the Lankan Thamil literary scene, apart from other subjects like politics.

One other Thamil website, also from Canada – the e-zine Kuviyam – also covers a larger area of Thamil studies and  related matters in a broader scope.

Thamil literature
But the accent in ‘Pathivukal’ is on contemporary Thamil literature including what is produced in India. Both Giritharan and Pon Kulendiren accommodate me with my contributions in  English in their e-zines. It must be also said that Giritharan’s daughter has her own website,, for the kids, in English. She, herself a 12 years old, writes to the Toronto newspapers.

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Her poetry speaks!

"Fleeting Infinity" (Poems)

கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

This is a 330-page volume of contemporary Tamil Poetry rendered in English and compiled by Latha Ramakrishnan, a prominent translator of literary works from Tamil to English and vice versa. She lives in Chennai. Published by Annamikaa Alphabets (her own publication) in January this year, it is priced at Rs. 500/= Indian currency. The writer’s e-mail is:

Latha Ramakrishnan (62) is not only a translator (more than 30 books) but also writes poetry (11 volumes), short stories (2 collections) literary criticism and essays (3 books). She is in Thamilaham literary world for the last 35 years. She also writes under various pseudonyms (Rishi, Anamika and her own name). She is on Facebook for the last three years. Most of the poems translated are poems by fellow poets that appeared on Facebook. They were in Tamil. Only a few are from Lankan Tamil poets. Among the latter, I happen to know only well-known people.

One thing good in this collection is that she has published the original Tamil version and her English translation side by side. Although she has translated about 600 such poems, she has included only 139 poets for volume one.
One should congratulate Latha Ramakrishnan for her genuine interest in translating these Tamil poems into English although in her Foreword she modestly says. “Of course, they may be imperfect and my translation may not be doing full justice to the original poem. Yet, I dared (and dare) to go on for the sheer joy it gives me and to my Facebook friends”. The translator also says that she “found solace in, admiring their (the poets selected for this volume) style and content.”

She is a Post-Graduate in English from Presidency College, Chennai. What I wanted to do here her version in English of some of the Lankan Tamil poems for the benefit of non-Tamil knowing readers. She has arranged the names of the poets according to the English alphabets and yet I wouldn’t know who among them Lankans are. Therefore, I am selecting only those whom I know well.

Anar Issath Rehana

Her original poem is titled “Alaiapukal Varatha Cellphone” Here is the English translation:

Cell Phones with no Incoming Calls-
There might have been an earthquake
In the underground hideouts of Earth:
The signs of landslide are there to see.
Deep down the Volcano fire
Begins to emit cinders.
Upon the Wal of house
Cracks breaking it into two
The porcelain vessel
Which I had dusted and cleaned
With great care yesterday
Slipped from my had so unexpectedly
And smashed into splinters;
In the new dress of the child
The stitching has loosened
From the number saved
No call comes to
My mobile at all.
Dense Fog
Stands to block the way
At a distance is seen that human form;
Whether coming or going
Remains blurred.

(Anar comes from Kalmunai and I too has translated one of her poems into English.)

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JEEVANATHI focusses on quality writing

கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

Lankan contemporary Thamil Literature has it own individual identity different from what is produced elsewhere. Certainly, it is not an adjunct in the overall Thamil Literature produced in Thamilaham or Thamilnadu. The literary journals locally published are standing evidence for its authenticity. It all began in the mini cultural revolution in late 1950s and reached its peak in the 1970s. The process continues without any need to establish the fact. The late academics like K Kailasapathi, K Sivathamby,  and HMP Mohideen were in the forefront in formulating this perception. The pattern of indigenous culture ad living had their own individuality although common practices in India and Lanka were there.

There were many literary magazines that are now defunct due to financial difficulties, especially Mallikai edited by indefatigable Dominc Jeeva in his 90s now, but yet some creative writing and critical articles were included in these journals.

Currently, there are monthly, quarterly, and periodically published journals are in circulation coming from various parts in the island- Colombo, Yaalpaanam, Maddakkalappu, Kalmunai, Anuadhapura, and other places. To mention the names of some of the literary journals, we have Gnanam, Jeevanathi, Makudam, Padigal, Kalai Mugam, Kalaik Kesari, Poongavanam, Thayaka Oli, Maruka and others to read what the Lankan Thamil-speaking writers are saying in their writing.

Apart from these journals, the Sunday editions of Thinakkural, Thinakaran VaaraManjari and Sudar Oli and Virakeari carry lot of literary materials for the discerning reader.

Jeevanathi in its June & July, 2018 issues published almost research-like articles and creative writing that are of high quality. This journal is edited by young Psychology majored graduate from the University of Jaffna (Yaalpaanam). Taking the articles only for consideration the following among many are Illuminating:

01.The role of the cremators in fiction – Ee.Su. Muralitharan
02.The Change in Form in Literature and Politics – Dr N Ravindren
03.Little Magazines- Sellathurai Sutharsan
04.Not Unnamed Stars but Shooting Stars-N. Navaraj
05. Mu.Tha and his short stories-K Saddanathan
06 Simon Cassie Chetty’s Contributions towards research in Thamil in Lanka- Susman

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Sudipta’s English fascinates me

The Crossroads”, by an Indian writer Sudipta Mukherjeewriter Sudipta Mukherjee

கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

My enjoyment in reading the fiction, “The Crossroads”, by an Indian writer Sudipta Mukherjee was primarily governed by her use of the English language in an effective manner, especially in her narration and descriptive power of characterization. This is her maiden novel covering three cities, two friends, one girl and it is a one story. But what is the plot about? The blurb helps:

“The Crossroads is a story of Aparajita Basu, a girl from a humble household of Kolkata, who tears away from her family to settle her roots in America, with her childhood friend, Aniruddha. To Aparajita, he is everything she ever wanted. Love dwindles slowly. Fate turns in a blink. Disheartened, she returns, not to her hometown but to a different city, where she finds herself a stranger, Haunted by her disturbed thoughts, obsessed by that one name, she finds no escape… until she discovers herself, standing on a new crossroads. An ordinary girl, who loses herself to love. A lover, who turns out to be a betrayer. A friendship born on a stormy night. Wisdom bred out of miseries. A home coming that completes one full cycle.”

But simple or a triangle of love story it may seem, the richness lies in its craftsmanship.

The book is divided into three sections: Kolkatta, Pullman and Chennai. It runs to 386 pages that include a Prologue and an Epilogue. Published by Frog Books in Mumbai in 2015 it is priced at US  $13

The book is dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva in the Sanskrit Sloka as follows: “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat, Para Brahma, Tasmai Shri Guruvay Namah”

The felicity of language is admirable for a maiden work. More than the meat in the novel the sheer poetry in prose entertains me ravishingly. The English is marvelous by any standards.

On pages 86-87 there is beautiful erotic writing too written from a feminine point of view.

Her novel is not merely a fiction but a study to be relished slowly and analyzed. It has many layers and nuances that have be analyzed as if for a thesis.

Let me now show you only a few passages from Chapter 22 only among the many I loved to relish and a few observations on the vitality of the authors fascinating expressions:

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An Ideal Manual for Electronic Broadcasters

வி.என்.மதியழகனின் 'சொல்லும் செய்திகள்'From the humble beginnings as an Operational Assistant (spinning discs and assisting in production of programmes) in the studios of Radio Ceylon, V N MathiAlagan gained practical and theoretical aspects of electronic broadcasting, step by step, and rose to the highest position as Deputy Director General of Broadcasting. He is a humble and pleasant man with dedication to his chosen field with immense talents and shone over the airways as the first Thamil newsreader over the first TV station in Lanka the ITN, and later the Rupavahini and proving himself as an efficient administrator in radio broadcasting too.

At the beginning of the present century he emigrated to Canada and presently work for the TVI Channel (Tamil Vision Inc.) as a Senior Broadcaster.

He was in Lanka last week to launch his worthwhile book of 150 pages titled “V N. MathiAlagan- Sollum Seithigal” (meaning the NEWS (he) SAYS)

The book is priced at Rs 1000 and printed by Kaanthalaham in Chennai.

SriLankan Radio (then called Radio Ceylon and later SLBC) was and is very popular broadcasting medium in South Asia for its friendliness shown by broadcasters in different tongues-English, Thamil, Sinhala, Hindi, Malayaalam, Telugu and Kannada.

But now, sad to say, with the number of private radio TV stations coming up, the focus is on cheap entertainment and catering mostly to the not so culturally inclined younger people. The electronic media is e flooded with broadcasters descending to lower standards, thereby insulting the majority of listeners and viewers who expect information and cultivated cultural items. The audience expect that the broadcasters should play a role model to the listening and viewing public. The accepted standards of using the medium of language deteriorated, and young people not properly understanding the nature of radio/tv broadcasting enter the field using clichés and inappropriate ‘ad lib bing’, lowered the standards of speech over these channels.

But not all broadcasters are to be blamed for the misuse of broadcasting etiquette.

It is at this point, that this book in Thamil serves the good purpose of educating the etiquette in broadcasting, particularly in radio / tv journalism and the quintessence of good broadcasting.

The author acknowledges the pioneer TV personalities, the late Thevis Guruge, and Sharmini Boyle by using their colour photographs in the back of the front cover and dedicates the book to his wife, who is the woman behind his success. There are 15 chapters plus comments by others in the form of introductions and forewords and wishes.

In his well-written pieces in clear language, he primarily stresses on the language of the spoken word and news presentation. Simple language is rightly recommended by him. He also mentions the collective responsibility in gathering news and rendering them. He also writes about the current methods of News communication in the electronic media. He cautions of how correct pronunciation matters, behind the news, perfect translation into native languages, newsroom studios among other things

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Likely Festival Film

கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

Senior journalist Jayantha Chandrasiri’s newest film Gharasarpa shown at the Tharanga theatre of the National Film Corporation on Friday last drew many admirers and the house was full with viewers sitting on the steps inside the hall. As an invitee I sat in one of the front rows amidst distinguished and many VIP. Although the screening started a little later than the scheduled time, it was worth waiting for more than an hour. The full-packed audience patiently watched the film till the end in pin drop silence. One reason why all the spectators waited till the end was perhaps they also wanted to eat their dinner that was ready to be served after the show. The other reason is of course the interesting images that were moving in close-ups in the wide screen that made the audience curious to know what’s next to be shown.

It was curious for me because I had never seen on the screen the Kalu Kumariya antics and the presence of Catholic priest and the venerable attention by the pious villagers, the choir rendition and people at praying and the religious rites performing. And the excellence of the cinematographer with meaningful shots that exhibited the nuances of the body language and the characters facial expression.

Apart from the obvious features in a good film (and the audience consisted knowledgeable and finetuned and mature cinegoers in understanding of what true cinema would be in its presentation), the subtitle in English helped non – Sinhala people t follow the story with ease.

But what is the story? Most of us are conditioned to expect a watered-down story line in a film to judge whether it is a good film or not. The Scene near the end – lasting about 8 to 10 minutes- when the married lady doctor and the married professor meet after so many years is a memorable sequence I liked best was because it was handled by the director and the cinematographer very well without any dramatization. It is a natural performance with   hesitation but with concrete assertion by the female character and the shock and uneasiness on the part of the male character were acted well. The respective players were Sangeetha Weerarathna and Kamal Addaraarachi.

I was happy to see Kamal after a long spell and he proved here beautifully, as a jovial, married Professor but with seriousness and with a purpose in uttering his thoughts and maintaining a cool demeanor.

Sangeeetha acted with dexterity as a professional doctor cool but showing her hidden excitement without over acting. She looked beautiful. Thanks to the makeup and hairstylist Indika Udara Lanka.

Sriyantha Mendis looked different from his normal appearance and played his role as the catholic priest.

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அ.ந.க.நினைவாக (மீள்பிரசுரம்) அ.ந.க. என்ற ஆய்வறிவாளர்

கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரனின் ‘பதிவுகள்’ இணைய இதழின் ஆரம்ப காலப்படைப்புகளை இங்கே வாசிக்கலாம்:

அ.ந.கந்தசாமி நினைவு தினம் பெப்ருவரி 14.


கலை, இலக்கியத் திறனாய்வாளர் கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன்

அறிஞர் அ.ந.கந்தசாமி[ – – எழுத்தாளர் அ.ந.கந்தசாமியை அறிஞர் அ.ந.கந்தசாமி என்று அழைப்பர். இலக்கியத்தின் பல துறைகளிலும் தன் ஆளுமையினைப் பதித்தவர் அ.ந.க. ஆங்கிலத்திலும் மிகுந்த புலமை மிக்கவர். அவரது பன்முகப் புலமை காரணமாகவே அவர் அறிஞர் அ.ந.கந்தசாமி என்று அழைக்கப்பட்டார். அதனால்தான் கலாநிதி க.கைலாசபதி அவர்கள் தனது ‘ஒப்பியல் இலக்கணம்’ நூலினை அ.ந.க.வுக்குச் சமர்ப்பணம் செய்தார். ‘அ.ந.க. என்ற ஆய்வறிவாளர்’ என்னும் ‘தினக்குரலில்’ வெளியான இச்சிறு கட்டுரையில் புகழ்பெற்ற கலை, இலக்கியத்திறனாய்வாளரான கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன் அவர்கள் ‘அ.ந.க ஓர் அறிஞரே’ என்று ஆணித்தரமாகக் கூறுகின்றார். அந்த வகையில் முக்கியத்துவம் வாய்ந்த இக்கட்டுரை இன்னுமொரு வகையிலும் முக்கியத்துவம் வாய்ந்தது. கே.எஸ்.சிவகுமாரன் அவர்கள் அ.நக.வுடனான தனது அனுபவங்களையும் பதிவு செய்திருக்கின்றார் என்பதுதான் அம்முக்கியத்துக்குக் காரணம். – . – பதிவுகள் -]

INTELLECTUAL என்றொரு ஆங்கில வார்த்தை உண்டு. அகராதியொன்றின் படி “” AN INTELLECTUAL IS ONE WHO THINKS AND ACTS PREDOMINANTLY TO SERVE THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE AND APPRECIATION OF FINE THINGS IN LITERATURE AND THE ARTS, AND IS LESS CONCERNED WITH THE MUNDANE AND MATERIAL ASPECTS OF LIFE’ தமிழிலே, இந்தப் பதத்திற்குக் கொடுக்கப்பட்ட அகராதியொன்றின் விளக்கம்:  – ” அறிவுத் திறனுடையவர், ஆய்வறிவாளர், அறிஞர்’ மேலும் INTELLECTUALISM என்பதனை விளக்குகையில் அவ்வகராதி இவ்வாறு விளக்குகிறது. அறிவுத்திறம் வாய்ந்த ஆய்வுணர்வுக்குரிய அறிவுக்குகந்த அறிவுத்திறன் நோக்கிய ஒருவரின் ஆய்வறிவுக் கோட்பாடு எல்லா அறிவும் ஆய்வுத் திறத்தின் விளைவே எனுங்கொள்கை’. இவைதான் உண்மையான விளக்கம் என்றிருக்க ஈழத்து இதழியலாளர் பலரும் ஏனையோரும் தப்பும் தவறுமாக இன்டலெக்ஷ?வல் என்பதனை “”புத்திஜீவிகள்’ என்றே எழுதிவிடுகிறார்கள். அர்த்தம் தெரியாமல் ஆங்கிலமொழிப் பரிச்சயம் இல்லாததால் தமிழ் நாட்டுப் பத்திரிகையாளர் சிலர் “”புத்திஜீவிகள் என்று எழுதிவிட கண்மூடித்தனமாக நமது பத்திரிகையாளர்கள் சிலரும் “”புத்திஜீவிகள்’ என்றே எழுதிவிடுகின்றனர். தமிழ்நாட்டு வெகுசனங்களிடையே பிரபல்யம் பெறும் சொற்கள் சிலவற்றை நாமும் பின்பற்றுவது நமது தராதரத்தை கீழிறக்கி விடுவது போலாகிவிடும்.புத்தியை மாத்திரமே முதலாகக்கொண்டு ஜீவிப்பவர்கள் தான் “”புத்திஜீவிகள்’ ஆனால் அதுவல்ல INTELLECTUAL என்ற வார்த்தையின் உட்பொருள் “”ஆய்வறிவுடன் கூடிய அறிஞர்களே “” ஆய்வறிவாளர்’ ஆவர்.

அமரர் அ.ந.கந்தசாமி நாம் பெருமைப்படக்கூடிய நமது மார்க்சியத் திறனாய்வாளர்/படைப்பாளி ஆவர். அவர் உண்மையிலேயே ஓர் ஆய்வறிவாளராவர்.

இற்றைக்கு 48 வருடங்களுக்கு முன்னர் அ.ந.கந்தசாமி அவர்களை முதன்முறையாக சந்தித்தேன். மறைந்துபோன தீவிர மார்க்சிய இலக்கியவாதியான எம்.எஸ்.எம். இக்பால், அ.ந.க.வை அறிமுகப்படுத்திவைத்தார். அந்நாட்களில் இப்பொழுது இல்லாமலே போய்விட்ட அன்றைய உள்ளூராட்சிச்சேவை அதிகாரசபையின் அலுவலகத்திலே நான் தமிழ் மொழிபெயர்ப்பாளராகத் தொழில் பார்த்து வந்தேன். அந்த அலுவலகம் கொழும்பு கோட்டை கபூர் கட்டிடத்தில் செயற்பட்டது.எனது அலுவலகத்திற்கு பக்கத்தில் எம்.எஸ்.எம். இக்பால் பணிபுரிந்த அலுவலகம் இருந்தது. அக் கட்டிடத்தின் மேல் மாடியிலே மறைந்துபோன “ரெயின்போ’ கனகரத்தினம் ஓர் அலுவலகத்தில் வரவேற்பாளராக பணிபுரிந்துவந்தார்.

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Balayogini Jeyakrishnan’s Poems of the Soil

K.S.SivakumaranA 25 page slim volume of 24 poems published by Mathusooothanan Jeyakrishnan  and A L Aazath printed at A J Printers Station Road, Dehiwela is prized at Rs, 250/- The author is a  senior lecturer attached to the Department of English Language teaching of the University of Colombo. As the title says she writes about the poems of soil. What soil   is that? Obviously, as the Foreword writer says- “Balayogini’s poems will be read with great interest as the outside world is gaining access to North Sri Lanka after the recent cessation of war. The environmental ruins and human toll will probably give people an idea of the experiences in this land.”

Lanka born American professor Suresh Canagarajah in his Foreword also adds: “However, Balayogini’s poems give voice to her own and other peoples’ feelings and thoughts of that time”

In an appreciative analysis Canagarajah aptly points out the strength of the   poet in her observations and feelings and most importantly her experiment with the craft of poetry writing. The poet has an M Phil. In  Linguistics.

It’s worth quoting Prof  Suresh Canagarajah  again: “She provides a sensitive window into the hearts and minds of people who went through violence, poverty,  bereavement, and uncertainty in their lives… orphaned children, confused child soldiers, moribund scholars, apathetic students,  despondent refugees, and perfunctory political bureaucrats.“

Canagarajah also observes that “She represents experiences of love, sex, family, and friendship that transcend politics and gain poignancy being set in the painful political environment.”

What about the poet’s craft? “She is sensitive to rhythm, imagery, spacing, rhyme, and word choice as she talks about her experience” says Suresh Canagarajah. Having assimilated what Suresh has said above, let me give my comments   with illustrations from Balayogini’s poems. She beautifully alludes rhythm of music to the touch of her beloved in this poem

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