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Tribute – Ja Ra Su

It was the 1950s. In a crowded cluster of apartments in Purasawakkam, a  young man was dreaming to become a writer. In my school days, I used to listen to his dreams. Writing for Tamil journals and newspapers were then not for livelihood. This young man J R Sundaresan (JRS or Ja ra su in Tamil) persisted with looking for a career as a journalist. The Tamil magazine Kumudam was launched earlier on 15 August 1947 by two young post-graduates in law. SAP Annamalai and P V Parthasarathy were struggling to find their feet, facing formidable competition from the well - established Ananda Vikatan and Kalki. Kumudam quickly made waves and built a vast readership of the youth. 

With another brilliant writer, R K Rangarajan and JRS mentored by SAP and fortified by the sharp business acumen of Parthasarathy, Kumudam raced to the top. For quite a few years this magazine was the best selling news magazine in India.

JRS wrote with different pen names. The one that stuck was Bakkiyam Ramaswamy. He created the immortal couple Seetha paatti- Appuswami Thatha - the former, the dominant, sophisticated, socially upward mobile and intelligent housewife and the latter a hen-pecked simpleton regularly landing himself in ridiculous situations. JRS wrote dozens of short stories around these.

Tamil magazines, led by Vikatan, flourished on humour. JRS belonged to this genre.  In his demise at the age of 87, the Tamil literary world has lost a multi-faceted writer.

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