He enriched Malayalam literature and cinema

Madampu Kunjukuttan  

Madampu Kunjukuttan, who died in Thrissur on Tuesday aged 79, contributed greatly to Malayalam literature and cinema as a writer of exceptional skills.

He wrote much-talked about novels like Ashwathamavu and Bhrasht and penned the scripts of some fine films, including a small-budget one that took the box office by surprise and another that fetched him the national award. And yes, he was also an actor, who dabbled mostly in character roles, despite making his debut as a hero.

Debut as a writer

It was as a writer that Madampu first caught attention. He made a splendid debut with Aswathamavu, which was serialised in Mathrubhumi weekly.

“I remember reading the novel when it was being published in the magazine and was very impressed with his narrative style and characterisation,” says critic M.M. Basheer. “It was a brilliant debut. Though he wrote a few more significant novels, I feel he could have been an even greater writer had he focussed more on literature.”

Yet, he followed Aswthamavu up with Bhrasht, which told the remarkable tale of Kuriyedath Thathri. Among his notable novels are Mahaprasthanam, which won him the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Avignamasthu, Mararasree, Om Shanthi Om and Amruthrasya Puthra.

Debut as an actor

Though he debuted in cinema as an actor with Aswthamavu – adapted from his eponymous novel – in 1979, it was nearly a couple of decades later that he started writing scripts and became part of some notable films. He wasn’t the first choice to play the hero in Aswathamavu, though. Sukumaran was.

“But after shooting for four days, Sukumaran became unavailable and we had to find a replacement,” says the film’s producer P.T. Kunhimuhammed. “Director K.R. Mohanan suggested Madampu’s name. That proved the right decision; he was considered for the best actor at the State Awards that year. I remember my first meeting with him when he demanded ₹8,000 – a huge amount in 1970s – for the novel’s rights, though later on he didn’t even mention any payment at all.”

Second coming

Madampu’s second coming in cinema was facilitated by director Jayaraj. Desadanam was one of the biggest – and unexpected – hits of 1996. Its superb script had a lot to do with it.

Jayaraj and Madampu went on to work with some memorable films, including Karunam, which won Madampu the National Award, and Shantham.

“Our collaboration benefited each other immensely,” says Jayaraj. “Before Desadanam, he had also contributed creatively to the screenplay of my earlier film Paithrukam.”

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 5:46:12 PM |

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