profile Writer Kadugu released a couple of books to mark his 80 {+t} {+h} birthday. CHARUKESI

If there is one Tamil writer who can boast of his connections with the tinsel world as well as the field of Tamil journalism, it would be ‘Kadugu', aka ‘Agasthiyan.' P.S. Ranganathan, the writer hiding behind these two pseudonyms, celebrated his 80th birthday quietly with a few of his admirers, by releasing two of his books – ‘Kamalavum Naanum' and ‘Nalayira Divya Prabhandam,' in an easily readable form, words correctly split for recitation.

His interviews and interactions with personalities such as, R.K. Narayan, R.K. Lakshman, Kushwant Singh, Subbudu, Kalki, Devan, S.A.P., Sujatha, K. Balachander, Bharathiraja, Sivaji Ganesan, and a host of others were carried periodically in Kumudam , Dinamani Kadir and Savi . They were spiced with nuggets and anecdotes and punctuated with genuine humour.

Hailing from Chingleput, he had Sridhar and Gopu of Chitralaya as his classmates and the trio had a good time, writing and staging plays while studying in school and then taking part in their Seva Sangam activities. Kadugu mentions Cho's father Athur Srinivasa Iyer patronising their Sangam, even arranging funds at times, and organising visits of celebrities. One who had noticed Sridhar's extraordinary abilities in writing and directing, he goaded him in his efforts to enter filmdom.

Sridhar wrote ‘Ratha Pasam' for TKS Brothers and when the play as well as the film became a success, there was no looking back for Sridhar.

Friend for life

“He went on to give one hit after another. However, he did not forget his classmate and we continued to have our relationship unbroken, even when I settled down in Delhi.”

When Kadugu was writing for Kumudum from Delhi, Savi persuaded him to write for Dinamani Kadir . When Sujatha became a celebrity writer, Savi wanted to know if he would write for Dinamani Kadir. Kadugu approached Sujatha with the proposal and he obliged. The bond between Sujatha and Savi continued even when the latter quit Dinamani Kadir and started his own magazine Savi.

Kadugu who was working for the Central Government and joined a leading advertising agency. He continued to write humorous short stories and articles for magazines. His ‘Kamala' series was extremely popular.

Kadugu's Naalaayira Divya Prabhandam is a gift to lovers of Tamil literature. He had invented a new Tamil font and got the entire Naalaayiram printed. Having relocated to Chennai in 2005, Kadugu, in December last, requested R. Krishnaswami of Narada Gana Sabha to help him release the book in the mini auditorium. A total stranger to RK, he was surprised when Krishnaswami said, “Go ahead. The Sabha is with you in this holy event. Will ask Kalyanapuram Sir for his consent and we will organise a function!” Aravamudachariar was giving lectures on Tiruppavai at NGS Hall in the mornings. It was an unforgettable moment for Kadugu, when Aravamudhachariyar released the two volumes, which was received by Dr. S.S. Badrinath and Crazy Mohan. (Crazy later took a copy for his close friend and actor Kamal Hasan, as he had asked for one set!)

According to Kadugu, the editions sold like hot cakes. Artist Gopulu while acknowledging the books, sent him a cheque for Rs.500 when the price was only Rs.200. There were many individuals and institutions that took away most of the copies and one incident in this connection moved Kadugu. Says he: “A group of three men with Thiruman on their foreheads had come from Tindivanam and asked for 100 sets of Naalaayiram, which means 200 copies. They were running a Vaishnava Sabha in their place. I told them that the bundles would be heavy and wondered how they would carry them all the way to their town. I was surprised when they replied that they would divide them into three lots and carry them on their heads. ‘Are these mere books? Are we not going to carry the Thiruvadi of Azhwars?' they countered. I was stunned by their dedication.”

His meeting with Embar Vijayaraghavachariar is another interesting episode. When Kadugu took his two-and-half-year old daughter to Embar and told him that she would recite any of the first ten Tiruppavai verses.

Embar asked the child to recite ‘Azhi Mazhai Kanna'. She did and Embar praised her diction. She also sang ‘Ongi Ulagalanda.' He blessed her and gave her fruits and flowers.

Kadugu's ‘Kamalavum Naanum' is a compilation of hilarious pieces. A truly remarkable way of celebrating Sadhabhishekam.

Kadugu's interviews with various personalities were spiced with anecdotes and genuine humour.