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M .T. Vasudevan Nair

 

His thoughts and words often create everlasting impressions in print and on the silver screen. Among his contemporaries, he stands out as a multifaceted genius, who as time passed by, secured a special place in the hearts of Malayalees, and those who love anything that is Malayalam. Popularly known as 'MT' to those who admire his personality and work, Mr. M. T. Vasudevan Nair is a phenomenon when it comes to Malayalam literature. Today, he has made his own mark as a noted Indian novelist and scenarist.

Born on August 15, 1934 in Kudallur, a small village in Palakkad district of Kerala, MT steadily started displaying exceptional creative skills in writing and soon carved a niche for himself through some outstanding novels and short stories in Malayalam. These works had the fine blend of romanticism, and many shades of human life, especially suffering, which he portrayed masterfully. This unique approach to writing made MT popular among the common man, as they found solace in the candid depiction of logical outcomes and simple philosophies of life.

M.T.'s first major novel, Nalukettu was published in 1958 and literally created a stir in Malayalam literature. This masterful literary craftmanship soon got widely acknowledged in the Malayalam literati and is also considered as a revival of a literary tradition initiated by Mr. Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, Mr. Vaikom Muhammed Basheer and Mr. Uroob.

Mr. M. T. Vasudevan Nair's literary acumen can be gauged from some of his outstanding works like Nalukettu, Bandhanam, Manju, Kaalam, Varikuzhi & Kadavu, Olavum Theeravum, Kutyedathi, Ninte Ormakku, Nashtapetta Dinangal, Iruttinte Aatmavu, Varikkuzhi, Dar-s-Salaam, Swargam Thurakkunna Samayam.

Some of M.T.'s literary works found reckoning in the Malayalam cine world. They were favoured mostly due to the treatment of the story, which often highlighted the plight of the land he belonged to and the ebb and tide of life as experienced through various characters, especially that of common man. The background of most of his stories had the essence of Malayalam and Malayalee, with the River Nila (Bharathapuzha) having a profound effect in many of his creations.

M.T.'s foray into the domain of silver screen was a rewarding one as scriptwriter for Olavum Theeravum, which fetched him the state film award for best scriptwriter in 1970. But it was Nirmalyam that transformed MT into a man of many parts, and he won the National Award for the best director and scriptwriter in 1973. The film was all about the fallouts of economic depression, caused by neglecting practical wisdom and clinging on to unwarranted religious dogmas. The film was a turning point in the history of Malayalam cinema. His second directorial venture was Bandhanam in 1978 portraying the invisible bindings among individuals, even while separated physically. Manju, Varikuzhi and Kadavu are his other noted films as director.

Some of his best screenplays have been for Murappennu, Nagarame Nandi, Asuravithu, Pakalkkinavu, Iruttinte Atmavu, Kuttiyedathi, Oppol, Edavazhiyile Poocha Mindapoocha, Panchagni, Nakhakshatangal, Amritam Gamaya, Aaroodam, Aalkoottathil Thaniye, Uyarangalil, Rithubhedam and Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha.

Besides Nirmalyam, MT also won the National award for scriptwriting for Kadavu, Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, Sadayam and Parinayam. This affable writer par excellence was also honoured with several state film awards that include the best film award given for Kadavu in 1991, produced by M. T. Vasudevan Nair, one of his rare production ventures, which also won him the award for best story. Other films for which MT was honoured for the best story include Oppol in 1980, Thrishna & Valarthu Mrigangal in 1981, Aarudam in 1983, Chidambaram in 1985, Amrithamgamaya in 1987, Perumthachan in 1990. He has also won an award for screenplay for the film in 1986.

In the field of Malayalam literature, his works often found a special place in the hearts of Malayalees. Almost all his literary works till date have been able to evoke curiosity among his avid readers, and were often evaluated closely by the critics. In the process, several state and national level recognitions came his way. He has been the recipient of some prestigious state literary honours like the Vayalar Rama Varma Award (1985), Kerala Sahitya Academy Award, (1982 & '86) Odakuzhal Award (1993) and Muttathu Varkey Award (1994).

Mr. M. T. Vasudevan Nair is also the recipient of Kendra Sahitya Academy awards in 1971, 1982 & 1986. But the highlight of his literary life was when the nation honoured MT with the highest literary award, the Jnanpeeth in 1995. It was, indeed, a proud moment for all Malayalees, especially the literary brethren of M.T. in Kerala.

MT also found time to share his literary prowess, when he decided to take up the mantle of editor for the popular Malayalam weekly Mathrubhoomi, from 1968 to 1981. He has also been at the helm of many literary organizations in the government as well as non-governmental level, and is presently the chairman of Thunchan Memorial Trust.

In the arena of Malayalam literature, Mr. M. T. Vasudevan Nair is no doubt a towering personality. He still has the verve and passion to infuse novel creative elements in writing. He is also blessed with an uncanny ability to do something special every time he keeps his pen busy, which unfailingly would result in an outstanding creation, that would have what we Malayalees fondly call as the MT touch!

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