Sandilyan was an Indian novel, newspaper and screenplay writer who wrote Tamil historical fictions. He was born on 10th November 1910 in Thirukovilur, Tamil Nadu. He is known for historical adventure romance novels, which were set during the reign of the Chola and Pandya kingdoms. Sandilyan’s original name was Bhashyam Iyengar.
He was the son of Ramanujam Iyengar and Poongovilvalli. In 1929, he married Ranganayaki with whom he had children named Sadagopan and Padma. His family hailed from the Thiruindalur village close to Mayiladuthurai. He attended school at the Chennai Pachaiyappa’s School and the Saidapet Model School. He attended college at the Thiruchirappalli St. Joseph’s College.
When the Independence fighter C. Rajagopalachari visited St. Joseph’s, Sandilyan was inspired by Rajagopalachari to take part in the Indian Independence Movement. He joined the Indian National Congress. After graduating from college, Sandilyan moved to T. Nagar in the 1930’s where he met and befriended the writers Kalki Krishnamurthy and V. Swaminatha Sharma. They encouraged Sandilyan to pursue a career in writing.
When Sandaliyan penned his first short story Shantha Seelan, Kalki was impressed and published more of Sandilyan’s short stories like Kannammavin Kadhai and Adhirshtam in the Ananda Vikatan magazine. Encouraged by his success, Sandilyan took formal Tamil lessons from Pt. Thirukanapuram Srinivachariar.
Then he wrote Tamil short stories for the weekly magazine Sudesamithran, where he was also a reporter from 1935 to 1942. Then he joined the English daily Hindustan Times as a sub-editor. While working at the Hindustan Times, Sandilyan befriended filmmakers B. N. Reddy and Chittor V. Nagaiah, who introduced him to the film industry. Sandilyan co-wrote the screenplays of Tamil movies like Swarga Seema in 1945 and En Veedu in 1953. He wrote a book about his cinema experience titled Cinema Valrnadha Kadhai in 1985 and produced a documentary called Birth Of A Newspaper.
Sandilyan left the Hindustan Times to work at Sudesamithran again and began writing full-length novels. Some of his earliest historical novels included Amudhasurabi, Paalaivanathu Pushpam and Sandha Deepam. Kumudam, a weekly Tamil magazine, serialized some of Sandilyan’s most famous works. Sandilyan was one of the few Tamil writers to get monthly salary from the magazine. He left Kumudam to start a weekly magazine called Kamalam which did not run well. Vanadhi Phadippagam published Sandilyan’s historical novels in book format.
Sandilyan’s works remain popular even after his demise. The Tamil Nadu government announced the nationalization of Sandilyan and 28 other Tamil writers’ works with compensation to the legal heirs, but Sandaliyan’s legal heirs declined the notion and offer.