Great Keralites

K.R. Narayanan
Born in a humble family in Uzhavoor - a remote village in Kottayam, K.R. Narayanan by his hard work and dedication rose into eminence. He held many key positions under Government of India. He was the ambassador of India in the US, and later elevated as the Vice president of India. After five years, he was unanimously elected as President of India, the first Malayali to receive the highest honour in India. 
Arundathi Roy

Arundathi Roy is the first Indian writer to win the Booker prize, the prestigious prize given for creative writing from the common wealth countries. Her picturing of rural south Indian life - under the syrian christian background with an autobiographical touch, gave her novel - 'The God of Small Things', world wide acclaim. Arundhati is the daughter of Mary Roy.
Kamala Das (Kamala Surayya)

Recognized as one of India's foremost poets, Kamala Das was born on March 31, 1934 in Malabar in Kerala (Dwivedi 297). Her love of poetry began at an early age through the influence of her great uncle, Nalapat Narayan Menon, a prominent writer. Das remembers watching him "work from morning till night" and thinking that he had "a blissful life". Das was also deeply affected by the poetry of her mother, Nalapat Balamani Amma, and the sacred writings kept by the matriarchal community of Nayars. She was privately educated until the age of 15 when she was married to K. Madhava Das. She was 16 when her first son was born and says that she "was mature enough to be a mother only when my third child was born". Her husband often played a fatherly role for both Das and her sons. Because of the great age difference between Kamala and her husband, he often encouraged her to associate with people of her own age. Das says that he was always "very understanding". 
When Das wished to begin writing, her husband supported her decision to augment the family's income. Because Das was a woman, however, she could not use the morning-till-night schedule enjoyed by her great uncle. She would wait until nightfall after her family had gone to sleep and would write until morning: "There was only the kitchen table where I would cut vegetables, and after all the plates and things were cleared, I would sit there and start typing". This rigorous schedule took its toll upon Das' health, but she views her illness optimistically. It gave her more time at home, and thus, more time to write. 
As her career progressed, her greatest supporter was always her husband. Even when controversy swirled around Das' sexually charged poetry and her unabashed autobiography, My Story, Das' husband was "very proud" of her. Though he was sick for 3 years before he passed away, his presence brought her tremendous joy and comfort. She stated that there "shall not be another person so proud of me and my achievements" . 
And Das' achievements extend well beyond her verses of poetry. Das says, "I wanted to fill my life with as many experiences as I can manage to garner because I do not believe that one can get born again" . True to her word, Das has dabbled in painting, fiction, and even politics. Though Das failed to win a place in Parliament in 1984, she has been much more successful of late as a syndicated columnist (Raveendran 53). She has moved away from poetry because she claims that "poetry does not sell in this country [India]," but fortunately her forthright columns do. Das' columns sound off on everything from women's issues and child care to politics. 
In December, 1999 Kamala Das converted to Islam, creating a furore in the press. Less than a year later, Kamala Surayya announced on plans to  register her political party 'Lok Seva,'.
Das has published many novels and short stories in English, as well as in the Indian language of Malayalam under the name "Madhavikutty". Some of her work in English includes the novel Alphabet of Lust (1977), a collection of short stories called Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories (1992), in addition to five books of poetry, Summer in Calcutta (1965), The Descendants (1967), The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (1973), The Anamalai Poems (1985), and Only the Soul Knows How to Sing (1996), a collection of poetry with Pritish Nandy (1990), and her autobiography, My Story (1976). Some of her more recent novels in Malayalam include Palayan (1990), Neypayasam (1991), and Dayarikkurippukal (1992). She is currently the author of a syndicatcd column in India.
Thunchat Ezhuthachan
Thunchat Ezhuthachan (16th century) is one of the giants among Malayalam poets. Believed to have been born in Trkkantiyur in Malappuram district, Ezhuthachan is considered as the father of modern Malayalam poetry, who gave the language a power not known before. He has also made significant contribution to the spiritual and cultural renaissance of the state. Mahabharatam is the most important among Ezhuthachan's poetical works, the rest being, Adhyatmaramayanam, Irupattinalu Vrttam, Harinamakirttanam, Cintaratnam, Devimahatmyam. His Mahabharatam, the greatest epic poem in Malayalam, though a rendering from the Sanskrit epic by Vyasa, possesses all the necessary attributes of an original work of art.
Kunchan Nambiar
Kunchan Nambiar (18th century) is considered as the creator of Thullal, a popular performing art of Kerala. Thullal avoids the high-brow rigidities of classical art forms like Kathakali and Koodiyattam, and also steers clear of the pedestrian folk forms such as Padayani. It blends the finer elements of both the genres, in formulating its strategies of performance and narration. Nambiar's Kalyana Saughandikam, (the golden water-lily) is believed to be the first among the forty odd Thullal songs he has composed for the stage. It was while enjoying the patronage of king Devanarayana of Chempakasseri, as a courtier that he composed the aforementioned Thullal song. His songs though dealing with puranic themes, abound in pungent and biting social criticism. Armed with satire and humour, Nambiar ridiculed the failings of his contemporaries and insisted on proper conduct and civilised behaviour from all sections of the society.
O. Chandu Menon

O. Chandu Menon (1847-1900), is considered one of the two pioneers of Malayalam fiction (the other being C. V. Raman Pillai). A Munsiff and later Judge at Tellicherry of the erstwhile Malabar, Menon has to his credit two novels Indulekha and Sarada, the latter remaining incomplete. Indulekha occupies a unique niche among Malayalam movels, in that it marked the dawn of modernity in the literature, highlighting the value of English education and the right of women to assert themselves in issues like their marriage and education. Even as a work of art, the novel was a trendsetter in its wonderful delineation of characters. 
Kumaran Asan

Kumaran Asan (1873-1924) is a reputed Malayalam poet. All his major works including Chinthavishtayaya Sita, belong to a certain class of poetic writing, casually mentioned in the texts on Sanskrit poetics as Khanda Kavya. Chinthavishtayaya Sita (Sita in Meditation, 1919) is regarded by many as the masterpiece of Kumaran Asan. It marks the zenith of poetic finesse in the career graph of Asan, wherein the authenticity of his unique vision resulted in the creation of an almost new Sita who could confront Rama without flinching. Veena Poovu (Fallen Flower), Nalini and Leela are some of his other great works.
Vallathol Narayana Menon

Vallathol Narayana Menon (1878-1958) - In the early decades of the 20th century, Malayalam poetry, fettered for a time by repetitive neo-classical works, was rejuvenated and liberated by the trio of Kumaran Asan, Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer and Vallathol Narayana Menon. Vallathol, the youngest of the three, knew little English; yet by his intuitive capacity, he imbibed the spirit of romanticism which infused new life in Malayalam literature. A classicist by discipline, Vallathol started composing poems at the age of 13. His mature poems in Sanskrit and in Malayalam appeared only after 1910, and he translated Rigveda into Malayalam at the age of 75. His major works include Magdalana Mariam (1921)- an exquisite narrative poem based on an episode in the life of Christ as depicted in the gospel according to St. Luke. A patron of Kathakali, Vallathol founded the Kalamandalam institute at Cheruthuruthy. When India won freedom, he was made the Poet Laureate of Malayalam Language and Literature. 
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (1908-94) is regarded as one of India's most outstanding writers, on account of his superlative wit and originality. A freedom fighter, Basheer started writing short stories in 1937. Balyakalasakhi (Childhood Friend, 1944), a simple tale of love, friendship and tragedy, earned him a place in Malayalam literature. This was followed by Ntuppuppakkoraanentarnnu (Me Grandad 'ad an Elephant, 1951), the English translation of which, by R. E. Asher of Edinburgh University, won worldwide acclaim. Basheer's major works are peopled with characters drawn from his own Muslim milieu, whom he depicts in a manner that creates a strange combination of laughter and tears within the reader. Mathilukal (Walls, 1955) is another great novella by Basheer which was made into a successful motion picture by the renowned film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
Changampuzha Krishna Pillai

Changampuzha Krishna Pillai (1911-48) is one of the most popular poets in Malayalam literature, second only to Kunchan Nambiar in bringing poetry to the common man. If Nambiar is famous for his fine sense of humour, Changampuzha is renowned for his exquisite strain of lyricism. Belonging to the third generation of Romantics in Malayalam, he led pure romanticism to its very zenith. A prolific writer, with a writing career spanning two decades, Changampuzha produced more than 40, 000 lines of verse collected in around 44 volumes; this in addition to more than a dozen works in prose, including a novel, Kalittoli (Girlfriend, 1952) and an essay of literary criticism, Sahityachinthakal (Thoughts on Literature). Immensely well-read in world literature, especially poetry, Changampuzha translated many works into Malayalam.
Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai

Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (b. 1912) started off as a small-town lawyer but took to full time writing later and won himself the Sahitya Akademi Award (1957), Soviet Land-Nehru Award (1975) and Jnanpith Award (1984). His Chemmeen (The Shrimps) is one of the few works of fiction in an Indian language to gain worldwide recognition. The novel has been translated in all the major Indian languages and also in quite a few foreign languages. The film version of Chemmeen received the President's Gold Medal in 1966.
O. V. Vijayan

O. V. Vijayan (b. 1931) is undoubtedly the pioneer of modern fiction in Malayalam. A cartoonist, novelist and short-story writer, Vijayan has to his credit five novels, including Khasakkinte Itihasam (The Saga of Khasak, 1969), Dharmapuranam (The Saga of Dharmapuri, 1985) and Pravachakante Vazhi (The Way of the Prophet, 1993) besides many collections of short stories and articles and a book on his own masterpiece, Itihasathinte Itihasam (The Story of the Saga). Vijayan who started his career as lecturer in Kerala, soon opted for full-time journalism and making cartoons.
T. Padmanabhan

T. Padmanabhan (b. 1931), a distinguished short-story writer in Malayalam, has been writing since 1948, except for a brief period between 1963 to 1969. He has been credited with bringing the modern Malayalam short story nearer to the subjective intensity of the lyric. Many of his works have been translated into various Indian and foreign languages. It was when the short story reached a saturation point as a result of the repeated depiction of romantic idealism and social commitment that T. Padmanabhan emerged on the scene with a unique and highly individualistic idiom. Among his major works are Prakasam Parathunna Oru Penkutti (A Girl Who Spreads Radiance, 1955), Oru Kathakrittu Kurishil (A Story writer on the Cross, 1956), Makhan Singhinte Maranam (The Death of Makhan Singh, 1958) , Kala Bhairavan and Gouri (1993).
M. T. Vasudevan Nair

M. T. Vasudevan Nair (b. 1933), the famous Malayalam story-writer, novelist and editor has to his credit a number of fine films as well: he has written the script for a number of outstanding films besides having directed a few. Winner of several awards including the Jnanpith, Vasudevan nair, popularly known as M. T., burst into the literary scene with his maiden work, Nalukettu (the ancestral home of a Nair joint family), followed by Asuravithu (Asuravittu; Demon's seed: the son born to undo the family). The latter novel, written in a prose with poetic quality, bears the stamp of his genius, his mastery in subtle delineation of characters with great psychological insight.
Ponkunnam Varkey

The grand old man of Malayalam literature, Ponkunnam Varkey shot into fame with his short stories and novels. With his fiery spirit and outspoken nature he soon earned the title -'The Rebel' . He turned his ire against the conventional hypocrisy. He pictured the dishonesty and deceit prevalant in the society in his novels and stories, and urged the common men to rise against them. His rebellious nature has won him many admirers and fans.



Kovilan (Kandanisseri Vattomparambil Velappan Ayyappan) was born in Kandanisseri near Guruvayur  in Thrissur District, Kerala, India on 9 July 1923 (1098 Mithunum 25).Early education at: Kandanisseri Excelsior School and Nenmini Higher Elementary School. Kovilan entered Pavaratty Sahitya Deepika Sanskrit College at the age of thirteen. He had the good fortune to attend classes by the scholars/teachers K. P. Narayana Pisharoti, P.C. Vasudevan Elayathu, M.P. Sankunny Nair, Cherukadu and Sreekrishna Sharma. He was expelled from college in 1942 for actively taking part in the Quit India movement. When Kovilan entered Sanskrit College, poetry was his passion. By the time he quit, he had written at least three novels. In 1943 Kovilan joined Royal Indian Navy and got training as Anti Submarine Detector Operator. His work places include Bengal sea, Burma and Singapore. He left Navy following the famous Navy Rebellion of 1946 and returned home. While back in Kerala, Kovilan got in touch with Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer, Joseph Mundassery and C. J. Thomas. He also took part in the trade union movements. In 1948 he passed S.S.L.C. He worked for a while as a stenographer for Joseph Mundassery. In 1948 Kovilan joined Corps of Signals, Indian Army as a radio mechanic. He also specialized in electronics. For five years he lived in the Himalayas. While in army, he came in contact with Parappurathu and Nandanar. During his last year in the army Kovilan worked as Instructor, National Cadet Corps, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He retired from the army in 1968 as Havildar Major. After retirement, Kovilan lives in Pullanikkunnu, in Kandanisseri among Munimada and Laksham Veedu Colony. Wife Sarada (passed away - 1999). Two daughters Vijaya and Amita and one son Ajithan. Kovilan has published eleven novels, tweleve short story collections, three essay collections and one play.

D.C. Kizhakemury

D.C. Kizhakemury

Sri.D.C. Kizhakemury is undoubtedly the patriarch of book publishing in Kerala. D.C. Books, the publishing house started by him has grown into the largest book publishing house.D.C was also in the forefront of the freedom struggle.Also known as a coloumnist and a writer is the regularly contributing to many contemperory publications in kerala. Ravi D.C., son of D.C. follows the footprints of his illustrious father.
K.M. Mathew

The Chief editor of the largest circulated daily, Malayala Manorama. Padmashree K.M. Mathew is now a household name for all malayalees all over the world. Sri. K.M. Mathew started his career as a journalist and later become the chief editor of Malayala Manorama. He is a prominent figure in the social and cultural life of Kerala. The Government of India honoured him with Padmashree award.
Raja Ravi Varma

Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was born in Kilimanoor Palace as the son of Umamba Thampuratti and Neelakandan Bhattathiripad. At the age of seven years he started drawing on the palace walls using charcoal. His uncle Raja Raja Varma noticed the talent of the child and gave preliminary lessons on painting. At the age of 14, Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja took him to Travancore Palace and he was taught water painting by the palace painter Rama Swamy Naidu. After 3 years Theodor Jenson, a British painter taught him oil painting. Most of his paintings are based on Hindu epic stories and characters. In 1873 he won the First Prize at the Madras Painting Exhibition. He became a world famous Indian painter after winning in 1873 Vienna Exhibition. Here we have collected some of the Classic Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Images are 75 Kb to 150 Kb and may take a while to download. Click the thumbnail to enlarge.
P.T Usha (Born - 1964)
The first Indian woman (and the fifth Indian) to reach the final of an Olympic event by winning her 400 m hurdles Semi-final. She was born in Kerala in 1964. When she was just 12, she joined a Sports school at Cannanore where she received guidance and training from O.P. Nambiar, the noted athlete coach. Her full name is Pilavulakandi Thekkeparambil Usha. In the 10th Asian Games held at Seoul in 1986, P.T.Usha kept the flag of India flying high by winning 4 gold and 1 silver medal in the track and field events. Here she created new Asian Games records in all the events she participated. P.T.Usha also won the most medals at a single championship -six at Jakartha in 1985. Her five gold at the 6th Asian Track and Field Championship is also a record for the most number of gold medals by a single athlete in a single international meet.

Usha's success story begins from the 1982 Asiad in which she won two gold medals in 100 meters and 200 meters respectively. At the Los Angels Olympics held in 1984, Usha missed a medal and she had to remain content with 4th place. Yet, she was the first Indian woman runner to have the honour of coming at the 4th place in the history of Olympics missing a bronze medal by 1/100 of a second. She won 17 medals -13 gold , 3 silver and a bronze in four Asian Track and Field Championship during the period from 1983-89. 
Usha has won 101 international medals so far. At present she is employed as an officer in the Southern Railway. In spite of her age, married status and motherhood she is still active in sports.