Why are only Gandhi, Nehru and a few other national leaders widely studied and accepted nationally or internationally? Why are the regional leaders - who were gigantic figures in their own states - not given due importance? This was the question which spurred R Kannan to write Anna: The Life and Times of C N Annadurai.
Earlier, you wrote a book in Tamil about your experience in Yugoslavia. And now you have written a book in English. What made you chose C N Annadurai as the subject of your first book in English?
Much has been written about national leaders like Gandhi and Nehru. Even foreign scholars have written about our national leaders. There are hundreds of books on them. On the other hand, little has been written about some of the regional leaders. They have governed their regions in their own way. But they are not well known nationally or internationally. They include regional giants like Periyar E V Ramasamy, C N Annadurai, S K Patil, and others. There is not a single internationally authored biography even on Kamaraj, who was the president of the Congress. It's a pity that we don't give due importance to these leaders.
Why did I chose to write about Annadurai? When Anna died on February 3, 1969, I was seven years old. The city (Madras) came to a standstill on that day. It was a day of mourning in every household. He was so popular. It left a deep impression on me.
Anna was a very simple man who was born in Kancheepuram, which was a very small town then. He came to Chennai to study. Here he blossomed into a well-read man.
He was attracted to the non-Brahmin movement, which was spearheaded by the Justice Party. This brought him close to Periyar, whom he considered as his leader. Their relation lasted for 14 years. The duo turned this part of the country upside down. The rest is history.
Full interview here Sify