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Tamil Writer Sandilyan Biography
Sandilyan or Chandilyan is the Pen name of Bhashyam Iyengar, a noted Tamil Writer of Historical Fiction. Sandilyan is known for his Historical Romance and Adventure Novels, often set in the times of the Chola and Pandya Empires.
Sandilyan Early Life
Sandilyan was born in Thirukovilur in Tamil Nadu on November 10, 1910 to Ramanujam Iyengar and Poongovilvalli. His family was from Thiruindalur village near Mayiladuthurai.
Sandilyan did his schooling in Chennai Pachaiyappa’s School and Saidapet Model School. His college education came from Tiruchirappalli St. Joseph’s College. While in college, Sandilyan was influenced by the visit of C. Rajagopalachari and joined the Indian independence movement. Sandilyan became a member of the Indian National Congress. Sandilyan married Ranganayaki in 1929.
Sandilyan Early Career
After finishing college he moved to T. Nagar in the 1930s. Sandilyan became friends with his neighbors V. Swaminatha Sharma who was working in Thiru. Vi. Ka’s weekly magazine Navasakthi and the noted Tamil writer Kalki Krishnamurthy. With their encouragment he wrote his first short story titled Shantha Seelan.
Impressed with his work, Kalki published his short stories like Kannammavin Kadhal, Adhirshtam in Ananda Vikatan. Encouraged by this success Sandilyan started learning the Tamil Language formally from a Tamil Pandit named Thirukannapuram Srinivachariar.
Sandilyan started writing Tamil short stories in the Tamil Weekly Sudesamithran and also worked as a reporter in Sudesamithran from 1935 to 1942. Later Sandilyan became a sub – editor at the English daily newspaper Hindustan Times.
Sandilyan Work in Films
During his time at the Hindustan Times he became friends with B N Reddy of Vijaya Studios and Chittor V. Nagaiah. This bought him into the World of Films. Sandilyan co – wrote the screenplays of films like Swarga Seema ( 1945 ) and En Veedu ( 1953 ).
Sandilyan later wrote about his film world experiences in his book Cinema Valarndha Kadhai ( 1985 ). Later Sandilyan also produced a documentary titled “Birth of a Newspaper”.
After his stint at the Hindustan Times he returned to work at Sudesamithran and started writing full length novels. One of his first works was a self published political novel called Balathkaaram. Sandilyan also started publishing in other magazines like Amudhasurabi.
Paalaivanathu pushpam and Sandha deepam were his earliest historical novels. Sandilyan’s most famous novels were serialized in Kumudam, a weekly Tamil magazine and was instrumental in increasing the circulation to a greater extent.
Sandilyan was one of the very few Tamil writers to get a monthly salary from Kumudam for his novels. After leaving Kumudam, he unsuccessfully ran a weekly magazine called Kamalam. His historical novels were published in book form by Vanadhi Padhippagam and became best sellers.
As of 2009, many of them still remain in print, four decades after being first published. Kamil Zvelebil once called him as the “Fourth most popular Tamil Writer”.
Sandilyan Nationalization Controversy
In 2009, The Tamil Nadu Government announced its intention to nationalize Sandilyan’s works ( along with those of 28 other authors ) and provide compensation to his legal heirs. This caused criticism from the legal heirs of Sundara Ramasami and Kannadasan.
The Government soon retracted its position saying that the offer was optional and that it would force those who did not want to lose royalty. Sandilyan’s legal heirs declined the Government’s offer to nationalize and provide solatium.
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