COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Tamils, whether living in the island or overseas, have a dim view of Tamil Nadu poet and lyricist Vairamuthu’s intention to write a kavyam (epic) on the Lankan Tamils’ liberation struggle.
While acknowledging Vairamuthu’s capabilities as a lyricist, poet and writer, Lankan Tamils wonder if he is driven by the right impulses. They doubt if he has the requisite empathy and sincerity to truly reflect the depths of the struggle.
Vairamuthu had been declaring his intention to write a book on the Eelam struggle for years. He reiterated his resolve when he came to Mullaitivu in North Lanka in January to participate in Pongal celebrations there. But the moment he mentioned his intention, caustic remarks questioning his qualification to undertake the task went viral in the social media.
Drawing a distinction between Bharathiyar and Vairamuthu, Thavarajah Shanmugam of Switzerland pointed out that while Bharathiyar underwent deprivation and persecution for being a poet of Indian nationalism, Vairamuthu was busy minting money when the Eelam Tamils were being massacred. “Vairamuthu should indulge in some self criticism before taking up the project,” Shanmugam advised.
Tamil writer Sivamagizhi was more blunt. “Vairamuthu is not motivated by Tamil self respect or by a passion for literature, but by thirst for fame,” she said, alluding to his career in commercial cinema. State award-winning writer Ayathurai Santhan saw a political motivation also. “ State assembly elections are due in Tamil Nadu and Vairamuthu’s connections with the DMK are well known. His book on the Eelam Tamils will be circulated at election to time for the benefit of the DMK,” Santhan predicted.
Santhan also wondered if Vairamuthu can write without ever mixing with war victims. “Bangalore-based Rohini Mohan was able to write reasonably well about the traumas of the war-affected because she made several trips to the troubled spots,” he pointed out.
Writer and political commentator Nilanthan approved of “cross border writing” but hoped that Vairamuthu’s project will not be a mere “business venture.” V.Thanabalasingham, Editor in Chief of Thinakkural, suspected that Vairamuthu may be wanting to serve the narrow interests of the pro-Eelam “fringe groups” in Tamil Nadu.