Numerous languages have contributed to the richness of Tamil literature, music, and culture.

Tamil is not the mother tongue of some of the greatest writers, but they nevertheless decided to write and translate in Tamil. This pattern can be traced back to a few centuries earlier, when the language was permanently improved by civil officers like Francis Whyte Ellis and missionaries like Veeramamunivar, Robert Caldwell, and G.U. Pope.

The writer R.K. Narayan once stated that because English flowed so naturally to him, he never realized he was speaking a foreign language. His assertion can be applied, in a sense, to a few notable Tamil writers whose mother tongue was not Tamil. They decided to translate and write in Tamil. The pattern can be dated back several centuries to a time when civil officers like Francis Whyte Ellis and missionaries like Veeramamunivar (Constantine Joseph Beschi), Robert Caldwell, and G.U. Pope made a significant impact.

“The list of such writers who have enriched modern Tamil literature is endless. Ku.Pa. Rajagopalan, Na. Pitchamoorthy, Ki. Rajanarayanan, Gnanakoothan, M.V. Venkatram, Thirulogaseetharam, Dileepkumar, Sukumaran, Athmanam, Jayamohan, Vimalathithamamallan, Nanjundan, Kriya S. Ramakrishnan, and Po. Velsamy are some of the writers whose mother tongue is not Tamil,” writes Aravindan in Kalachuvadu, the literary magazine which has profiled a few such writers.

Non-Tamil speakers have contributed in a variety of fields outside of literature. Kerala-born Manayangath Subramanian Viswanathan, also known as M.S. Viswanathan or MSV, was a renowned music director in Tamil cinema for nearly fifty years. With a few exceptions, the majority of playback singers are not Tamil. T.M. Soundararajan, a member of the Saurashtra community residing in Madurai, provided vocals for two of the greatest heroes of the past, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) and Sivaji Ganesan. The neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh was home to well-known playback singers P. B. Srinivas and S.P. Balasubramaniam (SPB), known for “Paadum Nila.” After SPB smoothed down his Tamil accent, it was MSV who gave him the chance to sing in Tamil movies.

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