Ayyanar says that it is his duty to bring to public knowledge these real heroes, who have not done what they had achieved for the love of money or fame.
He looks like a character that has just stepped out of the screen from a Tamil film. His passion for writing encounters a restrained release during the conversation. There is a burning desire in him to experiment in his service to Tamil language and literature. Boutha Ayyanar, a native of Vinayakapuram near Melur in Madurai district, now settled in Chennai, a writer and critic, is into a new genre. In a talk with S. Annamalai, he reveals why and how he ventured into the publication of a unique magazine, ‘Nerkaanal,' the first of its kind in Tamil.
‘Nerkaanal,' a quarterly, takes as its subject people who have excelled in their chosen field but stay away from limelight. Ayyanar says that it is his duty to bring to public knowledge these real heroes, who have not done what they had achieved for the love of money or fame. “My subjects have had a significant role to play in the development of Tamil art and literature but stayed away from the attention of mass media.”
The magazine is into the fifth issue now and the sixth one is getting ready. It contains an interview of the subject done by Ayyanar, which runs to 30 pages; details about the subject and the impressions of others. He takes time to choose his subject. “It was Sundara Ramaswamy's advice that I should be convinced about my subject before I make a choice. He advised me not to interview a person for the sake of getting it into print. All my subjects are not known to me. I respect their skill and achievement.”
So far, Nerkaanal has featured N. Muthusamy (playwright); V. Sriram (translator); Vannanilavan (writer); Nazzer (film personality) and P. Krishnamurthy (painter and art director). The future list includes V. Vasanth Devi (educationist), Poet.Abi, V.Geetha, S. V. Rajadurai, Anita Ratnam, Sanjay Subramaniam, Gnakkoththan, Nuhumam and Deepaselvan, a Sri Lankan student studying in Madras University, who, according to Ayyanar, has been recording the sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils through his ‘lived experience.”
Ayyanar reveals a sense of contentment, while discussing his subjects. Mr. Sriram, who translates from French to Tamil, has been a recipient of two Chevalier awards from the French Government. But he has not been recognised properly by the mass media. “I am a direct beneficiary of his translations as I was able to read French classics in Tamil.” Nazzer for him is a different personality. “He openly described his failures in the interview. His life is an open book. My subjects reveal a genuine concern for fellow beings.”
“At a time when even a minor artiste in the film industry gains prominence, it is puzzling why a person of the calibre of P. Krishnamurthy, a highly gifted artist and art director, is not known to the present generation. This is in spite of the fact that he has won many national awards and worked as art director for films like Oru Vadakkan Veerakatha, Bharathi and Imsai Arasan 23m Pulikesi.” One of the most wanted art directors in the Indian film industry “has no cinema quality in him. He has not sold his talent for money and lives in an obscure place in Mamallapuram.”
Bringing out a magazine like ‘Nerkaanal' is an arduous task. More than the financial implications of publishing a special magazine, the time and toil involved are more. “I constantly update myself on art, culture and literature. It is not possible to make a living through writing in Tamil Nadu.” He owes the success of the magazine to Tamil lovers, philanthropists and anonymous contributors. For lack of financial backing, the magazine, first published in 2010, is not able to come out as a regular quarterly. But the attempt has been hailed universally. It is hosted in pdf format in www.vallinam.com.my.