Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mumbai Tamil Fictions

Mumbai Tamil Fictions


Mumbai Tamil Fictions. Is it being really written today??? The fiction that we read now… can they be really termed as Mumbai Tamil Fiction?? Mumbai Tamil Fiction – has it really arrived?? Its history, its glory, its future…. Before we discuss all these points today…. We definitely need to have a brief background of ‘the Mumbai Tamil society – their lifestyle, their thinking, their reading habits, etc.’

Before Independence the Tamil Nadu state included ‘not just Tamil Nadu of today’ but also a part of Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala.

Our sangam literature and tholkaapiyam which were 2500 years old, mentioned the vedic Brahmins and the Aryan culture.

Buddhism and Jainism – the 2 premier religious institutions then - spread from north to south and both had a VERY STRONG influence on tamil nadu and tamil literature. The five epics silapathigaram, manimekalai, valaiyapathi, seevaka sinthaamani, kundalakesi are fine examples of ‘how buddism and Jainism influenced tamil literature’.

Let’s trace the migration of the tamilians to the north of their land.

King Harsha vardhana, vaadaapi saalukiya king pulikeesi, pallavar king mahendravarman, Narasimha varman, Captain paramjothi their war and relation ship were the historical evident of the tamilians came to north river narmadha land. This was 6th century (A.D 610 to 668)

Adi sankarar established four hindu madhs , they were

Sirunkesari, dwarakaa, Badrinath and bhuri. Rahula sangrithithyaan confirmed adi sankarar’s period should be a.d. 788 to 820.

Tanjore was ruled by Maharashtra sarabhoji kings at the end of the 14th century. Even today, year 2005, many Marathi speaking families live in tanjore district.

With this background when we try to find out when tamilians actually started migrating to Mumbai. There is no written record or history that tamil people had migrated to mumbai before the british period.

Tamil kings came to north India, won wars .. but they never stayed and ruled the other lands.

During the British period when British officers were transferred from one city to other they took their servants too. Yes, many tamilians came out of the tamil nadu border as a butler.. the head cook.

The Indian tobacco co, Indian railways, harbors, mills were opened and they required many labour workers.

The tamil people started coming to mumbai for this job opportunity. The tannery business started at dharavi.

To work in this tannery only the back ward community people were ready to come. That’s how the dharavi slums were filled up by tamil society.

The white collar jobs in railway, harbours, govt offices, accounts department were transferable ones. Hence many high class community tamil people started coming to Mumbai.

Initially matunga, mahim, Dharavi, chembur, parel, masjid

Wadis were the residential place of the tamil speaking community.

During the British period, mumbai tamil society was divided into 2 major groups. There was one group that followed mahatma Gandhi and his freedom movement. Many parents at that time named their children as Gandhi, bhagvat singh ., without knowing that Gandhi and singh were the surnames. Kasturi , Sarojini, Tilak, Subhashchandrabose – all became very common names in many tamil families.

There was the other group that was influenced by E V Ramaswamy Nayakkar and the Dravidian movement. This Dravidian movement talked about the glorious tamil period, its past history and literature. The main highlight of this movement was their staunch opposition to casteism and the blind faith in religion. These norms undoubtedly, attracted the working class community because they were mainly the lower caste people. Mumbai dalit leader Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar also influenced this group to a great extent.

These two groups and their activities with their associations were established in Mumbai. During, this period Mumbai did not have any noteworthy Tamil writers. Mumbai people were more interested in Tamil Nadu writers and their writings.

There are many Fourth and Fifth Generation Tamilians living in Mumbai today… but still, metaphorically speaking - their life here is always like a water droplet on a lotus leaf.

Even though they breathed this air but their roots had never been accepted this soil. They continued their life here with the memory of their native village at tamil nadu.

Keeping all these facts in mind, we have to approach Mumbai fictions and Mumbai writers. Because of this peculiar character tamil mumbaikars fictions didn’t grown up.

Even now, mumbai tamil society is satisfied with the fictions of tamil nadu writers like kalki and laxmi.

Kalki’s novels were based on the glorious tamil kingdoms, their wars and our Indian Independence movement.

On the other hand, family and family issues were the theme of laxmi’s novels. Laxmi’s novels attracted many women readers. In fact, I wont be wrong if I said, laxmi’s writings actually changed several house wives into keen novel readers.

This year janapeeth award winner writer jayakaandan and his writings have many readers in Mumbai. Some young generations were attracted by sujata and his scientific novels.

All these writers were well known mostly because of their writings in Chennai weekly magazines.

Then what happened to the great fiction writers like sundara ramaswamy, Laa.saa.Ramamirtham,Nanjil Nadan, Neelapadmanabhan,, Nallaperumal, Akilan,

Mu.Varadharajan, T. Janaki Raman and others. Mumbai people know them only by their names not for their writings.

Manikodi period was the golden period of tamil short stories. Puthumai pithan, ku. Paa.Rajagopalan, P S Ramayya, Movni, Na.picchamurthy, Si.Su.Chellappa

- all these writers and their stories were the land mark of tamil short stories.

But even at that time, a mumbaikar was reading not all these but weekly masala stories.

Nanjil Nadan, a famous Novelist wrote his first Novel


His other Novels,

Enbilathanai veil kaayum – 1979

Maamisa padaippu – 1981

Mithavai – 1986.

In these novels, the first three novels had been written in the back ground of Nanjil, his native. The fourth one .. that is …. Mithavai had the background of Mumbai.

However. After he left Mumbai and went to Kovai, tamil nadu, he wrote two novels both the character and story based on Mumbai Tamil society.

Sathuranka kuthirai - 1993

Eddu thikkum mathayaanai – 1998.

He wrote many short stories also.

Theyvankal OnaykaL AadukaL ,- 1981

VakkupporikikaL – 1985

The above two books the collection of his short stories were published when he was in Mumbai.

In his short stories, the Mumbai Janata express, Dadar chennai express, Mumbai tamil people traveling to native places, the related problems were described in a very realistic way. The tamil Taxi driver and the Mechanic, the sales man and the tamil associations were the other tamil Mumbaikars faces that he depicted in his writings.

It would be noteworthy to mention his novel sathurangakuthirai here. sathurangakuthirai was written as a auto biography style, a young man was coming to Mumbai, Working in the company, staying as a paying guest, His everyday struggle to live in Mumbai life,, etc. this story included the contemporary incidents like thamilar peravai President varadharajan and his gangs activity (better known as the lead character in the Hindi movie Naayakan)

We have to notice that only after he left from Mumbai, he was able to write many Mumbai back ground fictions.

Why? And He is the best and No. 1 writer who wrote about

Mumbai tamil society in his fictions.

But was the Mumbai tamil society and the tamil writers, and associations aware of his writings ? I had a doubt .

He himself confirmed this. He wrote about his memory of

Mumbai on 4.4.05 and said..

“Mumbai tamil readers were not aware of my writtings. When my short stories were published in Kanaiyazi and Deepam, one gentleman who was the reader of Modern tamil literature said that No better than toilet papers.

Nanjil Nadan also said that Mumbai tamil society was separated into two groups. Brahmins and Non-Brahmins.

The Brahmins appreciated the writers like Mayavi, Subhashri, Hema ananthathirthan, the chennai tamil weekly

Writers. According to them literature means Poet great kamban, Mahakavi Bharathi, literary debates, speeches etc.

On the other hand, the non-Brahmin group was mainly influenced by the Dravidian movement. Thus, we were in between the devil and the deep sea.”

Even today, that the condition of the tamil fiction has not changed at all. And I really regret saying this… but the truth is the situation has only turned worse nowadays.

The short story writer sangoli balakrishnan ‘s two books, both were the collection of short stories.

His many stories were discussing about the city life common problems and the charcters were living in Mumbai. The flies, the boys selling the idlis in the bicycle,

Matunga maheshwari Udyan, chennawalaa all characters

Are picturised in his stories.

Ambai, the well known feminist writer and the founder of

SPARROW is living in Mumbai. She is very much known

To Tamil Nadu and other language writers. However

She does not have any direct or indirect correspondence

With Mumbai tamil sangams or any Mumbai tamil organizations. Many Mumbai ordinary tamil readers not even aware of her writings. Her three books

SirakukaL MuRiyum – 1976 (

Veedin mUlayil oru samayalarai – 1988

Kaaddiloru Maan - 2000

Nanjil nadan and sangoli balakrishnan Mumbai back ground fictions were very much appreciated in all other places except Mumbai. It is indeed very ironical, that there is no influence of their writings on the Mumbai tamil writers.

Mumbai tamil society was the witness of some peculiar problems like son of the soil by shivsainiks at 19,

Mumbai bomb plast , Mumbai chawl lifes, Mumbai harbour, Mumbai dadaas and their local fights,mumbai rain and mumbai train, Mumbai ladies special and Best BEST,

Mumbai power cut, mumbai red light area, mumbai traffic, Mumbai taxi drivers and dabbawalla, multilinguistic mumbai the symbol of India, Mumbai ganpathi utsav..

Mumbai parsis… many many themes are there here for the new writers. But mumbaikars are not ready to see what is happening around them, what is affecting their day-to-day life.

Recently few writers took up these mumbai issues and writing about these themes.

Puthiyamaadhavi wrote a fiction “MinsaaravandikaL’ discussed the life of dharavi chawl , the common man and his dream to build a house. She wrote 25 weeks in Mumbai tamil weekly called tamil post about the problem of searching a separate room for a man. “thaniyarai” – private rooms – it discussed the 25 issues related with this theme.

She is writing in the net magazine pathivukal

( about the tamil society in the Arabian sea-shore. That is arabikadalorem.

Another well known short story writer from Mumbai is Rajagai Nilavan. His collection of short stories “vidivelli” published on 2004. These stories were already published in tamil nadu weekly and monthly magazines. In this book, not a single story has the background of Mumbai life. However his recent short stories like “chekkumaadukaL” described city mechanical life and the related family issues.

1980 chembooran the writer and a journalist wrote a book called Idu enkal Bombay”. It was not a fiction. It gave the details of Mumbai. He wrote Mumbai voice at chennai magazine . his real name was bhavathi subramaniyan. His book “vidiyai ventral paatham” was a biography of sudha chandran.

Nritya sindhu published this book at 1990. he wrote the success story of bharat natyam dancer sudha chandran in the chennai tamil magazine ‘sumankali’.

Dancer sudha chandran’s story was taken as a film in telugu called “mayuri”. In tamil S.P. Balasubramaniyan dubbed that film from telugu. In hindi the same film was dubbed as “nasee mayuri”

At a very young age of 17 the up coming dancer met with a serious accident resulting was her right leg having to be

Ambutated below the knee. Most persons would have resigned themselves to fate but sudha battled her way against all odds. Dr. P K Sethi of Jaipur who fitted her with a specially designed artificial leg and before her sympathisers could realize the full impact of the suffering , sudha came back on to the dance stage with a bang.

Writing this success story of sudha ,chembooran and his writtings were noticed by media. SUN TV took his social interview and etc etc. he wrote five books other than these.

However he was not a fiction writer.

The other fiction writers in Mumbai magazines are Bharathi mani, Nellai kannan, ansari,

Tamil the classic language of India and great history of literature background has anything to do with the translation works? Raghula sankrithithiyan, kaandekar were well known to tamil readers through the tamil translations

But compared to this, the translation from tamil to other Indian language is very poor.

Nanjil nadan’s fiction mithavai is translated to ten Indian languages by National book trust of India, the books are yet to come.

His many short stories were translated to Malayalam and other Indian languages by the sahitya akademi, penguin and national book trust of India. His writings were included in the studies of modern literature in the university level.

And he got many awards for his writings also.

Mumbai the intelligent tamil society have 65 tamil associations.

Mumbai Tamil Times, marathiya Murasu, Dinaboomi are the 3 daily newspapers coming from Mumbai. Their Sunday pages mostly come with one short story.

Mumbai thudippu, Tamil post are weekly magazines coming from Mumbai. Short stories and book reviews of these magazines introduced many fiction writers.

Thoorigai , a quarterly literary magazine is giving more important to fictions.

Maharashtra tamil writers association has conducting many seminars and boosting many writers and guiding them to publish their books.

All chennai weekly and monthly magazines are available to mumbaikar in the market. This Strong Competition from their Chennai counterparts is one of the reasons why a mumbai tamil magazine finds it very difficult to establish itself.

15 lakh tamil people are living in Mumbai and the suburban area. Mumbai municipal corporation schools have tamil medium upto eighth standard. Local tamil TV networks also there in Mumbai. Mumbai daily papers mostly cover the tamil nadu news . tamil mumbaikars have interest with tamil nadu politics not with local politics. All tamil nadu political parties have their branches at Mumbai .

The casteism and religious customs continued here. City life is nothing to do with all this.

Mumbai writers do not have a single publisher at Mumbai for their wittings. They have to publish all their books from their pocket. There is no particular sales market for them.

They have to wait for the tamil nadu govt library orders.

Many times the local influence plays with these orders and mumbai writers staying away from chennai are unable to do anything. The tamil nadu government or sahitya akademi does not have any Special care with the other state writers. Mumbai writers with all these practical problems are struggling to survive.

One more fact, which is to be notices now. Recently Mumbai had a book-fair at tamil sangam. 40 publishers from tamil nadu came here with different types of books.

After 1985 , this book-fair was arranged this month apr 1 to apr 8,.2005

We have done a statistic from the publishers and came to know some facts. the readers were not aware of modern literature trend. The mass media publicity took important rule in the sales. And the people who came to see the book-fair and the buyers were above 40 years old. This shows

The young generation is not interested with tamil books.

And after 20 years the readers of tamil books will be above 60 the senior citizens only. 90% of the young generation doesn’t know the reading and writing of the tamil language.

The next generation in Mumbai.. will lost their mother tongue ? this question arises. This question is not for only tamil language but for all vernacular Indian languages.

The Intellectual community and all writers should wake up and do something with this all Mumbaikars issue.


( PUKAR – Seminar on 23-04-2005

Multilingual Fiction in the City)


  1. i have read all ur articels it was nice

    keep up this good job


  2. I have read all the articles particularly took keen interest in reading "Mumbai Tamil fictions" and got some self respect messages in 'Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal' and today's life in Namasi-Shastri conversation, 'Room for her' and Managara Kavithaa also. Your writtings should reflect in 'social justice' also.
    With kind regards.

    Karur R.Palaniswamy

  3. Genial post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you for your information.