According to reports, he was 98 and had been suffering from tuberculosis along with other age-related disease.
He moved to Puducherry in 1989, after he was appointed as the Professor of Tamil folklore in Pondicherry University. Ki Ra was an advocate in story-telling with special inclination for folklore and tales from the arid regions of Tamil Nadu and won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1991 for his novel Gopallapurathu Makkal. The novel is a depiction of the lives of Telugu people who had migrated to southern Tamil Nadu. The novel was recently in talks after actor-politician Kamal Haasan called it a ‘must read’ in Bigg Boss, which he hosts.
The lives of the people living in rural areas in the dry regions of Tamil Nadu with a tinge of realism was pivotal in Ki Ra’s literature. It is considered the pioneer of ‘Karisal ilakkiyam’ genre of Tamil literature.
He left school early and published his first short story at the age of 30 in 1959. His lifetime witnessed over 30 published books. In an interview with The Hindu on his 97th birthday, Ki Ra emphasised that the spoken form of Tamil was the appropriate form of the language. “Language had no letters when man started speaking it. Do we interact with our children in written form? We also do not use the written form of the language in our day-to-day conversation. Then why should we follow a written form of a language in writing,” Ki Ra said in the interview.
While at Pondicherry university, he composed and recorded 200 folk tales, which were published as Naattuppura Kadhai Kalanjiyam. His other works also demand mention including Gopalla Gramam, Karisal Kaatu Kaduthaasi and Andaman Naicker, all of which were very well-acknowledged and appreciated. People round the corner showered condolence after the news of hid demise came to light.