21st February 2012, 07:08 PM
Tamil is suddenly all pervasive..
It’s been hard to live down the image of the quintessential Tamilian, that Mehmood so kindly immortalised as the dhoti-wearing, nammam-sporting, tum kya bolta ji-spewing Brahmin from Madras in the 1968 hit Padosan.
But those days of suffering were long before Kareena Kapoor gyrated in titillating red to Chammak Challo, taunting her robot lover with Kannil kannai pooti vital, sirikka matiya.
And, not without good reason. From our Chennai Super King's Whistle Podu number to Kolaveri Di, Tamil has gone from being just about ‘mind it’ jokes to a lingo that youth across the nation don’t mind interspersing with dialogue-baazi.
The catty idli-dosa references and appadiya clichés have given way to more hip usage of words like machan, dai and paavum.
And with folk artiste Chinnaponnu sharing the stage with Shaan and B’town hotties grooving to her rustic live performance or Ranbir and SRK mouthing-off lines in Tamil at a recent awards function, it’s telling of the fact that Tamil is the new language of cool.
Suddenly, Tamil is all pervasive! Says Chanrachoodan Gopalakrishnan, who hosts photo walks in Chennai and is involved with Puram, a podcast on Tamil Nadu’s political scenario, “What’s been happening over the last few years is that people from Madras have been migrating everywhere.
Old bastions and boundaries have fallen. As more and more people marry outsiders the scope and reach for all things Tamil grows. Tamil classical music (Pittsburg tyagarajar festival etc.) and folk music have now become viral on the concert circuit globally. Be it Shankar Tucker’s Shruti Box or the Chennai Super Kings campaigns, Twitter — largely populated by people from Chennai — has taken things from here and turned them into a national phenomenon.”
Ushering in the change, rapper BlaaZe says, “It’s a great time for Tamil music and Tamil art to really reach out to the world. As a member of a diverse society, when we are exposed to different languages and cultures, it’s only natural to be amused at first, accept it next, and then grow fond of it,” he smiles.
But the syntax and rich phonetic collection of the language surely do make it unique? Says lyricist Madhan Karky, “I’ve studied different languages in the course of my work and find that Tamil is very beautifully designed. A lot of thought has gone into its construction. It has a big range of phonetics and sounds. From a musical and lyrical point of view especially it’s very pleasing.”
Tamil may very well soon be the language of Gen Y, but actress Shruti Haasan believes that Tamil has never had to fight a popularity contest. "Tamil is such an ancient language, it has nothing to prove to anyone. Having lived in America and later Mumbai too, I've always held my mother tongue in high regard and believe that no one can mock something that one is proud of,” says the actress who has a vernacular tattoo on display.
21st February 2012 07:08 PM
27th February 2012, 12:24 AM
First Tamil work translated from Chinese is here
The first ever direct translation from Chinese to Tamil, ‘Even if I adorn; there's none to behold', by Indian diplomat Sridharan Madhusudhanan was released on Saturday by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon at a function held at Delhi Tamil Sangam here.
The book ‘China's Sangam Literature: Introduction and Direct Translation' [‘Vaari Choodinum Paarppavar Illai: Kavi thogai – Chinaavin ‘Sanga Ilakkiyam'. Arimugamum, Neradi Thamizhakkamum'], brings an important Chinese literature to India.
Mr. Menon gave the first copy of the book to People's Republic of China Embassy Minister Wang Xuefeng.
The book is about the Chinese Classic Book of Poetry (Shi Jing, pronounced ShizhChing), which is the earliest extant book available in the Chinese literary history. It is an anthology of 305 poems by anonymous poets in three categories: folk, festive and prayers. Confucius (551 B.C. to 479 B.C.), who is supposed to have made the anthology, mentions these poems in his works and dialogues.
Mr. Sridharan is at present working as Director at the SAARC Division at the Ministry of External Affairs here. An Indian Foreign Service officer who has served for about nine years in Beijing and Hong Kong has written this book under his pen name ‘Payani', meaning travel and traveller in Tamil.
Unlike other books which have so far been translated from Chinese to English and thence from English to Tamil, this book is the first ever direct translation. The book also highlights some of the surprising similarities between the ancient Chinese literature and the Sangam literature of ancient Tamils. This is an important book not only to the Chinese, but also to anyone wanting to know more about China, Chinese society, culture and literature for over 1,000 years.
Mr. Menon, who can speak Chinese, lauded the efforts of Mr. Sridharan in bringing out this book and said this would help in better understanding of the culture of the two countries.
Mr. Wang Xuefeng expressed the hope that this would be the beginning of translation of other literary works in Chinese to Indian languages.
ICCR Chair Professor of Indian Studies at National University of Sigapore, Dr. A. R. Venkatachalapathy, novelist P.A. Krishnan, writer Mu. Ramanathan of Hong Kong, Kalachuvadu Pathippagam Publisher Kanna and Delhi Tamil Sangam Secretary R. Mukunthan were among those who offered felicitations to the author.
10th March 2012, 09:45 AM
Pen unites Tamil, Japanese literature
M. Muthu, 93, of Salem and his pen friend of 42 years, Shuzo Matsunaga of Japan, who is also 93, have been exchanging literary works and translations of poems and novels in an effort to pass on art, literature and culture of their respective countries to the next generation.
In conversation with this newspaper, Mr Muthu recalled his pride when the Japanese government brought out a stamp in his honour in 2007 — Tokyo had first decided to dedicate the stamp to Mr Shuzo for his contribution towards literature, but the generous Japanese told his government that Mr Muthu deserved the honour more.
However, Mr Muthu is more excited these days as his four books of translation of Japanese folk tales are getting ready for release early April by a reputed publisher in Chennai.
Residing with his son Mr Kannan, 63, a retired PWD engineer, Mr Muthu spends all his time reading, writing and translating for his friend. “Our relationship remains afresh even today. He sends photos and wishes during Pongal and Deepavali along with a big parcel of books. I also send him important literary works,” he said. The duo has translated Tamil ancient literary works like Naladiyar, Manimekalai and Panchathanthira Kadhaigal.
Mr Muthu was naturally anxious when the Fukushima nuclear disaster destroyed neighbourhoods in Japan. “I was relieved only after a letter from Shuzo. We met once in 1981 when Shuzo took part in the world Tamil conference in Madurai,” he said.
Mr Shuzo has written four volumes of books on marriage, birth and death ceremonies, important festivals of Tamil Nadu with inputs and photos sent by Mr Muthu. “Shuzo’s book India as Seen Through Letters, was very popular in his country. I have copies of his books. I want to preserve them,” he said. So far Mr Muthu has penned seven books with the help of Mr Shuzo.
16th April 2012, 08:37 AM
Creating The Next Generation Of Tamil Storytellers
Singapore’s Tamil community is stepping up efforts to pass along its unique story-telling traditions to a new generation with a month-long literary festival, and with a little additional help from one of the world’s best-known Tamil writers, S. Ramakrishnan.
April is a special month for Tamils in Singapore, when many celebrate their language and culture. And to take their story forward, Tamils need to empower the next generation of storytellers with the necessary skills and tools, said the India-born Mr. Ramakrishnan, who was in town to conduct a two-day story-writing workshop that concluded Sunday.
The workshop marked the beginning of a month-long festival of Tamil literature being held under the auspices of the ValarTamil Iyakkam, an organization dedicated to promoting Tamil writing and storytelling, and attracted a wide spectrum of participants – teachers, students, professionals and established writers – who sought to gain from Mr. Ramakrishnan’s perspective.
“It was especially encouraging to see so many students eager to acquire the skills needed to become successful writers,” says multifaceted local Tamil enthusiast Paalu Manimaran, who runswww.thangameen.com, which organized the event. Thangameen is an e-zine focused on Tamil writing from Singapore.
“Everyone among us has so a story to tell. Readers are just people who haven’t started writing yet. All aspiring writers should acquire the requisite skills and craftsmanship needed to translate imagination into literature,” says Mr. Ramakrishnan, one of the most acclaimed and popular Tamil short story writers in recent years.
A familiar name to readers of top Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan through his weekly columns, he has authored award-winning novels, plays and essays and has also dabbled in screenplay writing.
“There are various reasons why people write–more than what Primo Levi listed–but at the core is the impetus to share what we have either seen, heard about, experienced, or imagined,” says the author of acclaimed novels such as Upapandavam, Nedunkuruthi and Yamam.
So what propelled him to become a writer? “I realized early on that my tastes and perception of the world were different, and I soon developed an insatiable urge to chronicle whatever I felt was important. Stories are our way of communicating to someone, somewhere whatever is of importance to us. There is a reader somewhere who we can connect with. Writing is also the only way to experience various worlds that we don’t literally inhabit.”
Peppered with instances drawn from real life and popular fiction, his sessions stressed the importance of plot, technique, style and language. A voracious reader himself, Mr. Ramakrishnan continuously reiterates the need to read. “Many writers stop reading once they get busy writing.
Actually, you should read more after you become a writer.”
One of the workshop’s sessions was devoted to the need to explore and get acquainted with classic short stories from Tamil and world literature.
“There is a universality of theme in many classic stories from various corners of the world that resonates with us. The story of the oppressed, the suffering of the marginalized. That’s what a story does–it gives a voice to the voiceless.”
With books battling television and the Internet for young minds, and attention spans of readers fast shrinking, the writer is under greater stress to communicate using fewer words, he says. “This is the Twitter age. We are all under pressure to write shorter stories. No one has the patience for 75-page short stories anymore.”