Legendary writer D Jayakanthan no more, Political Leaders & celebrities pays homage

Legendary Tamil writer D Jayakanthan, who charted a new course in Tamil literature with his bold a...

Legendary Tamil writer D Jayakanthan, who charted a new course in Tamil literature with his bold and progressive works, died here on Wednesday night following a prolonged illness. He was 81.

Jayakanthan had not been keeping well for quite some time, his son Jayasimhan told PTI.

A prolific writer of novels and short stories, Jayakanthan is survived by his wife, two daughters and son. He has written around 40 novels and 200 short stories and used his pen effectively against social injustices and economic inequality.

Timeline of legendary Jayakanthan's life and works

His popular novel, 'Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal', which was later made into a film, won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1972. He was also a recipient of the Jnanpith Award in 2002.

Born in Manjakuppam in Cuddalore on 24 April, 1934, Jayakanthan was a school drop out who moved to Chennai, where he joined the undivided Communist Party of India. He was associated with communist leaders such as Jeevanandham and Baladandayutham, who encouraged him to take to writing. He started writing for communist magazines.

Jayakanthan, known as JK among his friends, focussed on the marginalised sections in his writing and several of his characters reflect their suffering.

Besides 'Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal', his other novels 'Oru Nadigai Nadagam Paarkiral' and 'Yaarukkaga Azhudhaan' were also adapted into films.

He co-produced 'Unnai Pol Oruvan', a film on the travails of a poor woman, which was screened in Russia with sub-titles. The Russian government conferred the Order of Friendship award on him in 2011.

A Padma Bushan awardee, Jayakanthan was also the founder of the Indo-Russian Cultural and Friendship Society.

Jayakanthan had also received various other awards, including Soviet Land Nehru Award (1978), Raja Rajan Award, (1986) and the Tamil Nadu Government Award (1986). He was also a Fellow of Sahitya Akademi.

His short stories in weekly magazines such as 'Ananda Vikatan' were a big hit among the readers in the 1960s. Though he was widely known for having taken up the cause of marginalised sections, he had also written for intellectuals.

Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association Deputy General Secretary ERA Muthu said it was Jayakanthan who brought recognition and respect to short stories among Tamils after Pudumai Pithan.

"People used to eagerly await his stories in magazines 50 years ago," he said.

Indo-Russian Cultural and Friendship Society Secretary Thangappan said that Jayakanthan always showed his courage and conviction through his characters.

He recalled that late Chief Minister MG Ramachandran had called Jayakanthan after watching the film 'Oru Nadigai Nadagam Parkiral', which was based on his novel, and congratulated him for his brilliant work. Leaders of Left parties have condoled the death of Jayakanthan.

Political Leaders & celebrities pays homage

Leaders of various political parties, writers, actors and readers on Thursday paid their last respects to writer Jayakanthan and hailed him as a towering literary personality not only in Tamil Nadu but also in the country.

DMK president M Karunanidhi, actors Kamal Haasan and Sivakumar, many Tamil writers were among those who paid their last respects to the late writer. His mortal remains were consigned to flames at Besant Nagar crematorium.

Describing Jayakanthan as the ‘King of the literary world’, Karunanidhi said though Jayakanthan was highly critical of the Dravidian movement decades ago, he changed his attitude. “His writings will be cherished by the Tamils forever”, he added.

Condoling the death of his long-time friend, DK president K Veeramani said though he had difference of opinion on ideologies, the friendship between them lasted till the end. Describing Jayakanthan as a ‘Padikkatha Methai’ (Uneducated Genius), Veeramani said Jayakanthan’s demise was a personal loss to him.

Condoling the death of Jayakanthan, VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan said the Centre should release a special stamp to commemorate his memory and the State government should institute an award in his names besides raising a befitting memorial for him.

CPM State secretary G Ramakrishnan said Jayakanthan was firm in his socialistic views throughout his life and had declared himself a communist. His contribution to Tamil literature was massive. CPI State secretary R Mutharasan said Jayakanthan took communist leader Jeevanandam and poet Subramaniya Bharathi as his role models and he remained an ‘Era of literature’ till the last moment.

PMK founder S Ramadoss said the history of literature in Tamil Nadu could not be written without the contributions of Jayakanthan. Despite touching the heights of fame on many counts, Jayakanthan remained a simple and down to earth personality, he added.

MDMK general secretary Vaiko, recalling his association with Jayakanthan, said the late writer had given revolutionary ideas for social reformation through his writings and that his works would last for ever. DMDK founder Vijaykant said Jayakanthan’s demise was a great loss not only to the literary world but also to the fields of politics and cinema.

Naam Tamizhar party’s Seeman said Jayakanthan would remain an icon in the Tamil literary world.

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