Wednesday, November 3, 2010

MUNSHI PARAMU PILLAI : not 'SHAW ' but The show

not 'Shaw '  but The  Show

People called him ‘Bernard Shaw’ of Kerala. He told them ‘I am not Shah, I am a show..’ It was cent percent correct that he was a show, obviously a One Man Show. Alternative of Munshi Paramu Pillai was only Munshi Paramu Pillai and he was as bold as the real ‘Shah’.

History of Malayalam drama, cinema and satire cannot be written without mentioning Munshi Paramu Pillai. In the period 1945 to 1965, he was the master writer of Malayalam dramas. Famous drama companies of that period presented his dramas which were mostly blockbusters. ]

One of his famous dramas ‘SUPRABHA’was a record holder. The main character of that drama was a villain which was unimaginable at that period. Duration of the play was five and a half hours. Whereever it was staged the audience demanded ‘once more’. To fulfil this demand a second part of ‘SUPRABHA’ was written and staged. This was done in an era of heroes who enter and perform with lengthy ‘Keerthanas’ with the hangover of Tamil dramas. Dialogues of his dramas were filled with satire and cynicism, and the entire Keralites celebrated their drama moods.

Munshi criticised the society which was still maintaining the superstitions and narrowness. The rulers and bureaucracy were his prey, and vice versa. But Munshi Paramu Pillai had the shield of public support. His admirers were from all walks of life like politics, cinema, bureaucracy, labour class and other ordinary people.


He was a screenplay /dialogue writer in the primary period of talkies in Malayalam. Prasanna (1950) , Vanamala (1951) , Kanchana (1952) , Sandehi (1954) , Kaalam Maarunnu (1995) , Taskaraveeran (1957) etc.are some of the films .He was also famous in the Tamil cinema field, as he had written the story of Tamil blockbusters like MANAMAKAL, NALLATHAMPI etc.

Munshi Paramu Pillai was also a gifted Editor. He edited (‘PRASANNAKERALAM’ one of the best ever periodicals of Malayalam (published from Kayamkulam and owned by Pottakkanayam Velu Pillai). Munshi was in the editorial board of the then leading Malayalam Dailies like Malayalee, Malayala Rajyam , etc. He was also related to Janayugam , Navajeevan , Sarasan, Jwala and many other periodicals.

C.V.Kunjuraman and K.K.Kunchu Pillai were respectively reasoned Munshi ‘s entry in the field of Literature and Politics. At first Munshi’s articles appeared in ‘NAVJEEVAN ‘ edited by C.V.Kunjuraman.

Almost all the Satiristic magazines then published in Malayalam had the contributions of Munshi Paramu Pillai . Entire matter of some magazines were written by him in various pseudonyms. One of his such famous pseudonym was ‘Chanakyan’.

He was fearless to criticise the then political setup of Kerala controlled by the Diwan of Travancore,Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyengar. Munshi’s magazine ‘Navasarasan’ criticised the Diwan and itwas ceased by the government. He and his friends then published ‘Vasarasan’. It was noticed by the police and Munshi changed the name into ‘Sarasan’, Rasan, San etc and continued to attack the government.

After some period, SARASAN the satire monthly again captured the humour market of Kerala for many decades (and finally stopped the publication during Emergency in 1975). Munshi was the master brain of ‘SARASAN’ till his death in 1962.

The anonymous articles written by Munshi, criticising the establishment caused a lot of trouble for the rulers. The editors, printers and publishers whose name appeared in the concerned periodicals were arrested. Munshi continued his vigour as a satirist as cool as ever and also he sincerely engaged in his job as a ‘Malayalam Munshi’ of English Schools. He retired as a Munshi ( language teacher ) from Government High School , Adur in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.

Munshi Paramu Pillai whose real name was K.R.Parameswaran Pillai, was born in Adur as the son of Peringinadu Ammakandakara Kopparethu Kochukunju Pillai and Ummini Amma. E.V.Krishna Pillai a giant of Malayalam humour,was his neighbour and childhood friend. In his famous autobiography, E.V.Krishna Pillai had illustrated various faces of his friend ‘PARAMU’as a humourist and a good human being having the vigour to correct the evils of societysuch as untouchability and other customes of that time.

When the ‘Walter Scott’ of Malayalam literature C.V.Raman Pillai was writing his famous novel ‘Ramaraja Bahadur’ Munshi was residing with E.V.Krishna Pillai at Kalkulam in Trivandrum. Everyday E.V.and Munshi visited C.V.Raman Pillai and took dictations. C.V.Raman Pillai dictated, E.V.Krishna Pillai wrote, and Munshi copied it fair. At that time Munshi’s handwritting was like printing letters, but in the final years of his life, it was capable to be read only by him or his close associates like V.Ramachamdran Unnithan , Adoor Illathu Ramachandran Nair and compositor in SARASAN Press who was also a ‘Ramachandran’.

Munshi Paramu Pillai started his a career as a Primary School teacher. He wrote dramas from his childhood and acted in many. .. His practical jokes and boldness as a man having a straight backbone were discussed by everybody, and he became famous in his fields of work.

He married thrice. First wife was Ponnamma Itty of the famous Ammachiveedu family of Kollam. She was an orthodox woman and never could cope with the attitude of Munshi as a writer or genius. She wanted a very systematic, calculated conservative life with which Munshi was never experienced. They have one son Gopikuttan (recently expired).

His second wife was Ratnamayee Devi whom he married when she was 15 years. Munshi was then 34 years old. She was his student and her mother was his collegue. After having three children Ratnamayee Devi and Munshi divorced. One of their three children MANI later became a world famous figure as the foreign secretary of India, J.N.Dixit (Jyotheendra Nath Dixit). How paramu Pillai’s son became “DIXIT’? It’s a long story worth research to analyse the relationships of clashing persomalities.

His third wife was his first ever love, whom he wanted to marry in his twenties. But her father Kaleeckal Krishna Pillai the landlord of Enadimangalam Village never interested to have a son-in-law who is a ‘bloody school teacher'. Munshi joined with her after their fifties, as she was residing in her parental house after divorce from her landlord husband. The reason was that she had no issues. Till death he resided there in her house at Elamannur (the head quarter of Enadimangalam Panchayat of Adur Taluk).

Munshi Paramu Pillai spent his last days in Elamannur with his wife Lakshmikutty Amma. He had many sincere associates who still ‘worship’ him as their Godfather. He died after a short period of illness at a hospital in Pandalam near Adur and was cremated in the compound of his brother’s house called ‘Parangamvila’at Peringinad, Adur.

After death of his wife,the house he resided for twenty years caused disputes. As they had no children, the house and land of Lakshmikutty Amma was given to vancherivila Madhavan Pillai (erstwhile President of Enadimangalan Panchayat) whose desendants are now caliming for their rights, and fought court. The land and propertywas in dispute

since 30 years and at last solutions were traced out to end the dispute. This only monument to remember Munshi was demolished by the new owner and he built a modern house there.

Munshi's books are out of print since forty years. As he was an ‘enemy’ for critics and historians of literature and a certain part of the highpower society, he was blacked out from the media and literary circle.

He was a man of will who was capable to activate whatever his ideas he thought correct and fought alone against the frameworks of society. Thus he had lot of casualities in his intellectual and social life. His stern backbone and his sharp penpoint created his ‘enemies’.

He called the critics as ‘drillers’ and nobody remained friendly with him in the literary field, except Kampisseri Karunakaran,Vaikkom Chandrasekharan Nair, Pandalam .K.P., etc. His associates (spell disciples, friends, collegues or likewise) like Thekkedathu Ramachandran Unnithan, Conductor Kutty (later as naturally, ‘checker’ Kutty) Driver Parameswaran Pillai (one of the heroes of erstwhile Travancore’s popular revolts held at Kadakkal . Kadakkal declared as an independent country (having an area of some square miles) and Raghavan Pillai declared ‘king’ . Parameswaran Pillai was the Minister of that king who ruled the KADAKKAL COUNTRY for ‘long’ three days. He was a driver in profession and closely associated with Munshi.

K.M.Bhargavan Pillai, Poothamkara Gopi, M.Gopinathan Nair (Retd RDO)and Parakkodu Sadasivan Pillai were some of his disciples in political and social activities. Munshi had his own political views and he associated with the then State Congress Movement and afterwards with the Communists. Leaders like M.N. Govindan Nair, T.V.Thomas, and Sankara Narayanan Thampi contacted Munshi for his advice and ideas.

Munshi was a writer, satirist, social activist. His contributions to the Malayalam literature as a satirist is still to be researched . He is definitely a man worth study.

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1 comment:

  1. Have you ever heard of one KURUMPAKARA THANKAPPAN , a real communist who lived here in the era of the old communist like M N GOVINDAR NAIR, PT PUNNUS, KAMBISERRY KARUNAKARAN, THENGAM BALAKRISHNAN ETC.

    Why do'nt you write some thing about him too...