Writer Imayam’s Sahitya Akademi award-winning novel Sellatha Panam, which holds a mirror to the Tamil society’s treatment of a woman, who married a man outside of her community, will be made into a film by acclaimed film director Vetrimaaran.
“The formalities are over and he will make the film after completing his existing project,” said Imayam, who recently won the Kuvempu award instituted in memory of Kannada poet Kuppali Venkatappa Puttappa, popularly known as Kuvempu in 2013. It carries ₹5 lakh cash, a silver medal, and a citation. Unlike Sahitya Akademi award which is being given to writers in all Indian languages every year, Kuvempu award is given to just one writer in a language annually. It is like winning the Jnanapith award.
“Why I feel special about the award is that the status and respect enjoyed by writers who have already won Kuvempu award now have come to Tamil language and to me. Moreover, it is not given by any government organisation like the Sahitya Akademi,” said Imayam, the first Tamil writer to win the award.
Asked about the proposed film, he said he was happy that Vetrimaaran, who had successfully converted novels into films in recent times, had come forward to adapt Sellatha Panam into a movie.
“The trend is encouraging. In West Bengal, a lot of good films are actually adaptations of literary works. It was quite common in the Western countries. In Tamil Nadu, Mr. Vetrimaaran excels in the art of converting modern literary works into films,” said Mr. Imayam, who won the Sahitya Akademi award for the novel in 2020.
The heroine of the novel Revathi, an engineering graduate, falls in love with Ravi, a refugee from Burma (Myanmar) and an autorickshaw driver, unpersuaded and marries him because he “tattoos her name on his body and cut his hand with a blade to express his love for her.” She turns down everything when he says, “I will die if you are not with me.”
The marriage fails as Ravi has a wayward life, becomes an alcoholic, and is suspicious of Revathi. The hope of Revathi that her education would come in handy in lifting the family of her husband shatters and one day she is found in the burns ward of Jipmer with third-degree burns.
“I agree that Ravi should have remained a responsible husband, especially when a woman like Revathi turns her back on her social status and family to marry him. But you should also keep in mind that her family would have treated him in a different manner if he has social status on a par with her family,” contended Imayam.
“Marriage is not determined by love. Caste, religion, education, money, position, power, and status. Her family treated Ravi shabbily because he possessed none of the above. The more they neglect him, the angrier he has become and Revathi becomes the victim,” he explained.