‘Tamil literature contributed richly to our culture’

“If I ask you to read Tamil literature right now, will you be able to do?” asks Chairperson of the School of Linguistics and Communication V. Renuka Devi, with a smile. Her question is relatable in a day and age of evolving technology and distractions where knowledge of and interest in ancient literature are waning.

The Department of Communication of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) and the Central Institute of Classical Tamil have organised a 10-day training programme aiming to present classical Tamil literature in a different form.

“We hope to explore the aspects of video production with respect to digitalizing and adapting classic texts from Tamil literature,” explained S. Nagarathinam, Head, Department of Communication.

The university has begun to make its foray into digitization of classical texts through two ongoing projects. A video adaptation of ‘Madalerudhal,’ depicting the conflict between young lovers, is produced as a short film.

An animated video adaptation of ‘Avvaiyum Adhiyamanum’ is currently in the scripting stage and is expected to be released with the short film at the end of the ongoing training programme. “There are many people who are interested in knowing about ancient Tamil literature but are unable to do so due to a lack of understanding or knowledge of the language. As we spend most of our time in front of television or an electronic device, digitization is clearly the most effective way to reach people,” said Dr.Renuka Devi.

Bringing up the question of what sets a work of literature recognised as a ‘classic’ apart, Vice-Chancellor Kalyani Mathivanan emphasised at the inaugural session the need to preserve Tamil literature which has contributed richly to our culture.

“People write for societal transformation, hoping that their thoughts would bring about a change for the good. Digitizing works of literature will make them more accessible and transcend boundaries,” she said.

Echoing her views, former Chairperson of the School of Information and Communication A. Santha, said, “While a lot is being constantly said and analysed with respect to Sangam literature, the process of digitizing will throw more light on many more unique aspects that the large corpus of poetry holds.”

The training programme will offer insights to students of communication and Tamil from colleges in the city into the concept of digitization of Classical Tamil Literature.

“Aspects such as how to adapt literary works for short films, animated films and general video production will be discussed. Equal attention will be given to both the digitization process and literary works so that the essence of the classics is retained,” explained Dr.Renuka Devi.

The growing interest in electronic media and digitization was justified with the barrage of questions put to artist Trotsky Marudhu after his talk on art, literature and the visual form.

“Whatever be the theme or the issue that we are trying to adapt, there are so many options available. One can choose to paint, animate, illustrate or simply shoot to get a story across,” he said.

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