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Malayalam Movies and Songs

Munshi Paramupillai

Died16th June, 1962
CareerDialogue (3), Screenplay (2), Story (1)

Munshi Paramu Pillai enjoyed the distinction of being known as ‘Kerala’s Bernard Shaw’. He was a multi-faceted personality who made a name for himself as a playwright, journalist, humorist, scriptwriter, actor, organizer and teacher.

Munshi Paramu Pillai strode like a Colossus in the field of Malayalam theater from 1940-1960. He dipped his pen in biting satire to question several social evils and superstitions of the day. His voice found its way into people’s hearts through the dialogs in his plays.

Paramu Pillai (originally named KR Parameshwaran Pillai) was born to Kochukunju Pillai and Ummini Amma of Adoor Peringanadu Ammakandakarayil Koppaarethu Veedu in the month of Mithunam, under the star of Chathayam, in Kollavarsham 1069 (CE 1894). He received his primary education from schools in Peringanadu and Vadakkedathu Kavu. He spent his early days in the company of none other than EV Krishna Pillai, who was his neighbor and good friend. Paramu Pillai found employment soon after he passed out of seventh grade, for a salary of Rs.7. Dissatisfied with his job, the artist in him struggled to find a means of expression.

This quest for artistic expression took him to the theater group of Peringanattu Govindan Asan. He expressed to Asan, his keenness to act in dramas. This got him a role in KC Kesava Pillai’s ‘Sadarama,’ and his talent was much appreciated.

Though he gave up his teaching profession temporarily, following his dreams of theater, he soon went back to teaching. Retaining his job, he continued his cultural and literary activities. Acclaimed theater groups presented the plays penned by him on hundreds of stages and soon he won fame as a celebrated playwright and humorist.

Paramu Pillai’s plays differed from the plays of those days in thought and presentation. His ‘Suprabha’, Aaradimannu’, ‘Thirichadi’ and ‘Kallan Njana’ were very popular. Munshi was also one of the first to write scripts for Malayalam movies. When Pakshiraja Studios made ‘Prasanna’ in Tamil and Malayalam, Munshi wrote the screenplay for the Malayalam version. He also penned the script, screenplay and dialog for ‘Vanamala’, ‘Sandehi’, ‘Kanchana’, ‘Kaalam Maarunnu’ and ‘Thaskara Veeran.’

To Munshi goes the credit for the story of one of Tamil’s greatest super hits, ‘Manamakal’. K Karunanidhi wrote the dialog for this film.

CV Kunjuraman was Munshi’s guru in his literary pursuits. It was in CV’s Navjeevan that he started his career as a writer.

He went on to become the publisher of magazines such as Prasanna Keralam, Navarasan and Jwala. Munshi’s social criticism in the magazine Sarasan gave the authorities of the day, sleepless nights. His magazine, which criticized Sir CP’s highhandedness, was banned several times. Not one to give up easily, Munshi tirelessly kept publishing it under other names.

EV Krishna Pillai, in his autobiography ‘Jeevitha Smaranakal’, has written eloquently about his childhood friend Paramu and their friendship through childhood and youth.

Munshi the literary giant’s personal life was turbulent. He married thrice. His son GS Unnithan by his first wife was a writer. He passed away recently. His second wife Retnamayi Devi bore him three children - Sarada Mani Devi, Jyotindra Nath Dixit (JN Dixit) and Narendra Nath Dixit. JN Dixit was a well- known Indian diplomat. Estranged from Munshi, Retnamayi Devi married colleague Sita Nath Dixit whose surname was adopted for her children.

And for the third time, he married his cousin Lakshmikutty Amma.

Munshi had a deep bond with Malayalam cinema. He introduced Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair to Malayalam cinema. MGR’s secretary Peelikkodu Appukkuttan Nair (Peelikkodan) was a close friend of Munshi’s. He was a fatherly figure to noted Tamil actor NS Krishnan.

None of Munshi’s literary works are available now. If his pieces published in old magazines were compiled, it would be a priceless addition to Malayalam literature. Munshi Paramu Pillai Memorial Center has been established thanks to the efforts of Shri NS Salim Kumar. This center is dedicated to compiling his works, a venture in which they have been considerably successful. Details about Munshi’s life and works are available in Salim Kumar’s book ‘Munshi Paramu Pillai Vyathiyum Jeevithavum’.

Munshi Paramu Pillai passed away on June 16th in Panthalam Mission Hospital.

Prepared by: Remitha Satheesh


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