Blaft Publications has come out with a translation of one of his mysteries titled 'Aayakudi Murders'.

Are you a fan of mysteries Meet Vidathu Karuppu writer Indra Soundar Rajan
Features Books Saturday, July 20, 2019 - 18:14

Popular Tamil mystery writer Indra Soundar Rajan’s serialised fiction Olivadharku Vazhi Illai (No way to hide) has been translated by Nirmal Rajagopalan and published in English by Blaft Publications as The Aayakudi Murders. The 210-pages book hit the shelves this July.

A fast-paced mystery novel, Aayakudi Murders is the kind of fiction you can devour during a bus or train journey. A mysterious letter bearing tales of spirits wandering the deserted foothills in a village called Aayakudi arrives addressed to a Magazine’s editor in Chennai. It also mentions an escaped prisoner on the run and the writer, Chinna Pechi, whose father has fallen ill after having seen “things he shouldn’t have seen” near the hills, seeks their help to investigate with discretion.

The editor sends off journalist Rajendran to Aayakudi and he arrives right in time to witness the funeral of Chinna Pechi’s father. The blow falls on him harder when he finds out that Chinna Pechi is a young girl no older than 8 years of age.

While Rajendran’s initial hunch was to attribute Chinna Pechi’s father’s death to the criminal on the loose, a series of unexplained events forces him to ponder upon the existence of ghosts. He befriends Deenadayalan, an old Tamil teacher from the village, and together the two try make sense of the mysteries of the village. A spirited police officer and Deenadayalan’s old student Rudrapathy joins them.

The story is wound together tightly in typical Indra Soundar Rajan style with characters like the village strongman Govinda Naicker who is worried sick for his unwed daughter Thenmozhi's future. His brother-in-law Rajamanickam of dubious character and a notorious past, is now the son-in-law-to-be. While Aayakudi reels under serial murders, Rajendran has a dagger hanging right above his own head. What is happening in Aayakudi and who is behind all of it forms the rest of the story.

The author has just returned from having given a speech at Pollachi and we sit down at his office above his house in Madurai. Amidst the sounds of wind chimes and surrounded by bookshelves bursting with titles on ‘Olai Chuvadi’ and ‘Sithar’s’ we discuss about his writings and the source of his inspiration.

Indra Soundar Rajan began writing when he was 18-years-old. Born in Salem, Indra moved to Madurai when he was 20 years old in the year 1980. The success of his very first stint in writing urged him to take up writing full time.

His very fist short novel, Ondrin Niram Irandu (The colour of one is two), won the first prize in Kalaimagal Magazine. “It was a short novel, set in Salem. One of my lead characters was called Mannangatti (waste), and he is a naive man who is used by goons to transport country brewed arrack. There is woman who literally turns this mannangatti into gold. Love blooms between the two but the village head has different plans. He separates them, kills Mannangatti and marries the woman. On their first night, when he enters the room, he finds her dressed in white and that is how the story ends. It was a huge success,” he beams.

As much as he’s known for his crime novels and religious speeches, the author shares that he always liked writing stories based on real people and their emotions. “But like how an actor is flooded with characters similar to his recent hit, I too was encouraged to write more mysteries. But I don’t have any complaints,” he smiles.

So far, the author has written 750 short stories, 360 monthly novels, 120 magazine series.  In addition to all this, he’s also written over 5000 TV episodes including the most famous Maramadesam series, Krishna Dasi, Kottaipurathu Veedu, Rudra Veenai to name a few and worked in more than 3 movie scripts including Aanandhapurathu Veedu. Amongst all his works is his most famous is Vidathu Karuppu or more popularly known as Marmadesam. Ask him about the inspiration for creating such a cult work and the author gives you a tired smile.

“I’ve answered this question in all the interviews. My move to Madurai made me wonder about the aruva vazhipadu (worshiping the sickle). I was intrigued by Karupasamy vazhipadu (worshipping of the fierce-looking village deity) too and out came Vidathu Karuppu,” he explains.

All of Indra Soundar Rajan’s works explore the question of the ‘unknown’ and what lies beyond. In all his stories, there’s the superstitious, the rationalist and the confused. Arguments are made on all sides and in the end, invariably all characters end up accepting in the existence of a higher being, of the possibility that there’s more to what meets the eye.

What fascinates him about this idea of the paranormal? Has he experienced any in real life we ask. “It is a thing to be experienced for yourself. Most often it is difficult to explain and make someone believe,” he says in a style that reminds us of one of his characters speaking.

He then goes on to share one of his experiences with us when we prod for more. “Many years ago, when I was living in a rented house with my family, my wife woke up one night around 11.00 pm to the sound of someone knocking the door. She got up and opened the door to find my paati (grandmother) dressed in a green saree, standing outside the door. She immediately came back inside to wake me but when I went out, there was no one outside. A strange experience but we went back to sleep. Around 3.00 am that night, our house owner who owned a telephone received a call for us. My grandmother had died that night. The strangest part is not that,” he pauses, our eyes widen and we ask “what was?”

“We took the early morning train to Madras and when we reached, my grandmother was laid down in the very same green saree my wife said she was wearing. Now, how do you explain something like this to someone?” he asks with an all-knowing smile on his face.

Indra Soundar Rajan's The Aayakudi Murders can be bought here.

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