Changampuzha Krishna Pillai started the democratisation of Malayalam literature, noted writer N.S. Madhavan has said.

He was delivering the keynote address at the literary function organised by the Changampuzha Cultural Centre at the Changampuzha Park, Edappally, here on Friday. The function was held as part of the ongoing birth centenary celebrations of Krishna Pillai.

Changampuzha, and Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon, broke away from the tradition of heavy reliance on upper class Sanskritised literature.

For the first time, Malayalam literature spoke about the common man and the downtrodden and not just about characters from the epics and the Puranas.

In that sense, both “Ramanan” and “Vazhakkula” had similarities, as they were about the conflict arising due to differences in the social status. “Ramanan” opened up Malayalam literature to the vast majority of the people, as it was read across all social segments. He, thus became a precursor of the progressive movement that happened to Malayalam literature in the 30's and 40's.

In fact, one of the major flaws that critics attributed to “Ramanan” then was its popularity. The mass acceptance of the work went against the elitist mentality of the critics, Mr. Madhavan said.

Even while appreciating “Ramanan” for its depiction of the love story placed against class differences, it was the first work in the language to deal with the camaraderie between two persons of the same age and sex. The combination of Ramanan and Madanan as well as Chandrika and Bhanu explored this relation. Changampuzha was well-versed in Western literature, as he used to read widely and translate works – so prolifically that it even invited criticism from some quarters on wasting his creative genius in translations.

His exposure and familiarity with international literary traditions helped him adapt techniques like pastoral elegy to his works. He was definitely the first poet, and may be the only one, to do so, Mr. Madhavan said. The genius of Changampuzha stood apart, because while writers who followed him chased after words, they came after Changampuzha – like lambs seeking the shepherd, Mr. Madhavan said.