Authors

Guns & prose

From pulp fiction to Web series and e-books, crime writer Rajesh Kumar has come a long way

One morning a decade or so ago, writer Rajesh Kumar rode to the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University on his Kinetic Honda. He was writing a fictional crime series for Ananda Vikatan magazine and wanted to know what ‘gene therapy’ was. “I took classes under a professor in the Gene Department for a week,” he recalls. Today, though, he simply has to Google the term. So much has changed since Rajesh Kumar wrote his first novel in 1980; yet, so little has changed in his writing.

He continues to churn out one crime story after another, think up gory murders and create sickening villains. Except that from pulp fiction, he’s moved on to e-books, movies and, soon, a Web series. “Talks are on with Sathya Jyothi Films to create a Web series based on my stories for Amazon Prime,” says the 72 year old.

His son Karthik Kumar quit his corporate job to digitise the writer’s 1,500 novels. “We could trace only around 1,000, and they are now available as e-books on various platforms,” says Rajesh Kumar. Seated in his quiet home near Marudamalai — he admits that he moved here since it was the perfect setting for a writer — the writer looks back on his 41 years in the field.

“When my son gave me the list of my novels he had typed out, I was overwhelmed at how much I had written,” he says. Even today, Rajesh Kumar writes at least 20 pages a day. Doesn’t he ever run out of ideas? “By God’s grace, my commitments keep pushing me to deliver,” he says, adding that he just can’t stop his thedal (search).

After the success of Arivazhagan’s crime action thriller Kuttram 23 starring actor Arun Vijay, which was based on one of Rajesh Kumar’s novels, several movie people have approached the writer. “They ask me to come stay with them in Chennai and sit for discussions,” he says. “But I cannot just drop everything and go there.” The reason is his wife. She walks in just then with piping hot tea and offers him his cup after cooling down the contents a bit.

“Right now, she is my priority. I write during the day and we sometimes drive out in our Zen to the nearby departmental store to buy groceries in the evenings. My grand-kids will come from Chennai to spend the summer with us and I will absolutely not write anything then…” He knows that, one day, he will slow down, and has grown to accept it.

But in the meantime, he’s making best use of technology; Googling new crime ideas and murder techniques; updating his Facebook status, and holding WhatsApp calls with his fans. Eight years ago, he had told me in an interview about coming across a shepherd boy reading his book in a pasture. Today, he tells me about a techie he encountered on Cheran Express one night. “He walked briskly into the coupé with a laptop bag strapped on his shoulders. When requested, he agreed to exchange his lower berth for my upper berth,” he recalls.

Once the train trundled to a start, Rajesh Kumar noticed that the young man started reading one of his crime novels. “I kept watching him. We crossed Tirupur, Erode, Salem…he was still reading. I then fell asleep.” The next morning, when they arrived at Chennai Central, Rajesh Kumar found the man snoring away with the book flat on his chest. “I woke him up saying we’d arrived at Chennai.” The lad thanked him, jumped on his feet, and walked away. “I didn’t tell him that I was the writer of the novel he was reading,” smiles Rajesh Kumar. “I just let it be.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:48:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/authors/guns-prose/article26685292.ece

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