CHENNAI: Dark book covers, crisp titles, intriguing plot, gripping sequence, and thoughtfully fleshed out characters — Coimbatore-based veteran author Rajesh Kumar is known for all of this. He is a renowned face in the scene of the crime genre that shaped up in the 80s and 90s. He has meticulously churned out around 1,500 Tamil novels and short stories in 41 years.
“My Tamil teacher was looking for students who were interested in writing. It was my classmate who gave my name. I went to class the next day without writing and was made to stand outside as punishment. I wrote my first story out of compulsion. The teacher liked it and then began my journey,” reminisces Rajesh.
Forensic science and criminology are his areas of interest. From daily newspaper reports to current affairs startling the society, he hasn’t left any topic untouched.
Crime and contribution
“I’m drawn towards science fiction and it sets me apart from the authors of that generation. In 1981, Kalkandu magazine decided to take me as a replacement for writer Tamilvanan, after his demise, for their crime short story series. That was a turning point. In 1985, publisher G Asokan started pocket novels exclusively for me. Those were tiny books available at an affordable price. I used to get a remuneration of `10 for my short stories in the early days. It was a big amount to start off with,” said the teacher-turned-author who was in the city for the launch of his book at Odyssey Book Store in Adyar. The author continues to maintain his look by sporting his traditional safari suit, tinted glasses and a golden watch.
Rajesh was particular about authenticity in stories. He’d visit the concerned people in his area of research and gather the necessary information. He wanted people and experts to be surprised by the amount of effort gone into the book. “I wanted richness in the plot with visual effects and moods established through figures of speech. At the same time, I wanted the common man to understand it easily. My wife was my biggest fan and critic. She used to strike the unwanted words and sentences,” says the author while pointing at his new hard-bound script where words are strung together in cursive handwriting using a ballpoint pen. He prefers writing on a paper over typing on computers.
Status of a hero
From posters being stuck ahead of the release of his novel to a Facebook post notifying his upcoming launch, the author’s interaction with readers has evolved over time. His books are available in ebook format, online, audio format and will be soon made into web series. The translated versions are available in Kannada, Malayalam, and English. With the usage of English technical words in Tamil, he has inspired many youngsters.
“A month back I happened to pass by two labourers. The woman thanked me. The class five dropout has managed to learn English words from my novels. The DSP of Madurai visited me a month back. He found my books to be an inspiration for him to join police services. Some cops even seek my help in solving cases. However, theory is different from practical. I decide the murderer and clues even before I begin to write,” shares Rajesh.
Involvement, dedication, and patience are keys to his success. Writing is yoga to his mind. Taking pride in his son and grandchildren, he says that his grandchildren write poetry and his son has quit a bank job to develop e-versions of all his novels. If not for his parents’ support and belief, he wouldn’t have made it this far.
“When my novels are made into movies, I’m particular about not commercialising it for the purpose of entertainment. Writers do not get as much recognition as the directors,” says Rajesh whose latest books titled Vivek, Vishnu konjam Vibareedham and Panchamapadhagam are published by Westland publications and available at book stores across the city.