Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai

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Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai
Born(1898-10-10)October 10, 1898
DiedJanuary 30, 1976(1976-01-30) (aged 77)
OccupationPlaywright, actor
Notable work
  • Swati Tirunal Maharaja
  • Veluttampi Dalava
  • Calvaryile Kalpapadapam
  • Vidhimandapam
  • Agnipanjaram
Spouse(s)P. Chellamma

Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai (1898–1976), popularly identified as Swathithirunal Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai after his magnum opus, Swathithirunal, was an Indian author of Malayalam literature, actor, speaker, teacher and thinker. He was known for his plays which dealt with themes such as patriotism, sacrifice and justice and his characters showed heroism, showing influence of William Shakespeare. Kerala Sahitya Akademi awarded him their annual award for drama in 1970. He was also a recipient of the Kalyani Krishna Menon Puraskaram.


Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai was born on October 10, 1898 at Perunna, Changanassery, in Kottayam district of the south Indian state of Kerala to Perunayil N. Kumara Pillai, a lawyer and an Ayurvedic physician and Haripattu Poothottal L. Parvathy Pilla.[1] After schoolign at the local school, he studied at institutions in Kumbakonam and Thiruvananthapuram and started his career as a teacher at the NSS High School. He served the society in various capacities such as those of a headmaster, educational inspector and as the general manager until joining the government service in 1944 and before resigning from service, he held various positions including those of the director of education department, broadcasting corporation director, chairman of the pay commission and the secretary of the department of food. In between, he sat in the Legislative Council of Travancore from 1933 to 1944. Later, he served as the editor of Malayalarajyam (1954–56)and Kaumudi (1957–61). It was during this period, Kaumudi was involved in the leak of the 1957 budget of the First E. M. S. Namboodiripad ministry where the reporter who leaked the budget as well as Pillai, as the editor of Kaumudi were fined by the court.[2] He also contested unsuccessfully from the Mavelikkara-Kollam parliamentary constituency.[1]

Padmanabha Pillai was married to P. Chellama. He died on January 30, 1976, at the age of 77.[1] Kainikkara Kumara Pillai, noted playwright and the author of books such as Harichandra was his brother.[3]

Legacy and honours[edit]

Padmanabha Pillai published 15 books composed of 6 plays, 3 novels, 4 short story anthologies, an essay compilation and a book of history,[4] but he was best known for his plays of which Calvaryile Kalpapadapam,[5] written in the 1934, was a pioneering work of modern Malayalam theatre.[6][7] He was known to have drawn on the heritage of E.V. Krishna Pillai (1895–1938) with his historical works like Veluttampi Dalava, published in 1932,[8][9] which describes the deeds and death of a minister of the state of Travancore[10] and his plays evidently displayed an influence of William Shakespeare.[11][12] His 1959 book The Red Interlude in Kerala published for the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee[13] is a historical discourse on how the communists came to power in Kerala and the book is often quoted in analyses of the politics of that period.[14][15]

Pillai received the Kalyani Krishna Menon Puraskaram for his play, Vidhimandapam, in 1955.[1] The Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Drama selected Swathi Tirunal, his 1966 play on the life of the former king of Travancore for their annual award for drama in 1967.He was given a Sahitya Akademi Award in 1967.[16][17] Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai Foundation, is an eponymous organization which has instituted Kainikkara Award, an annual award for recognizing excellence in socio-cultural work.[18]

Selected works[edit]

  • Padmanabha Pilla, Kainikkara (1932). Veluthambi dhalava. S.P.C.S.
  • Padmanabha Pillai. Kainikkara (1935). Kalvariyile kalpapadapam (Calvary's Wish-fulfilling Tree). Eduational Supplies depot, Thiruvananthapuram: Educational Supplies depot.
  • Padmanabha Pilla, Kainikkara (1953). Yavanika. S.P.C.S.
  • Padmanabha Pillai, Kainikkara (1955). Vidhimandapam (Court of Judgment) (in Malayalam). Kottayam, Sahithya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society.
  • Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai (1959). Communist Bharanam Keralathil. Kottayam: DC Books.
  • Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai (1959). The Red Interlude in Kerala. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
  • Padmanabha Pillai, Kainikkara (1962). Agnipanjaram (Skeleton of Fire) (in Malayalam). Kottayam, Sahithya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society.
  • Padmanabha Pillai, Kainikkara (1964). Mekhavum Minnalum (Clouds and Lightning) (in Malayalam). Kottayam, Sahithya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society.
  • Padmanabha Pillai, Kainikkara (1964). Ningal Ariyum (You know this) (in Malayalam). Kottayam, Sahithya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society.
  • Kainikkara Padmabhapilla (1966). Swathithirunal. Kottayam: N.B.S.
  • Padmanabha Pillai, Kainikkara (1968). Naatakapoornima. Kottayam, Sahithya Pravarthaka Co-operative Society.
  • Padmanabha Pillai, Kainikkara (1972). Ezhu thirivilakku. Kottayam: National book stall.
  • Padmanabha Pilla, Kainikkara (1974). Keralathinte nalambhalathil. Sahitya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangam.
  • Pillai, Kainikkara Padmanabha (2004). Ozhukkukal. DC Books. ASIN B007E4W3ZU.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography on Kerala Sahitya Akademi portal". Kerala Sahitya Akademi portal. 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  2. ^ "The budget not the first one to leak". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Kainikkara Kumara Pillai". Kerala Sahitya Akademi portal. 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  4. ^ "List of works". Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Art forms of India". indiansaga.com. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  6. ^ K. M. George (1992). Modern Indian Literature, an Anthology: Plays and prose. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 370–. ISBN 978-81-7201-783-5.
  7. ^ "Growth of Drama and Kerala Theatre - Drama in Malayalam Literature". www.keralaculture.org. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  8. ^ Amaresh Datta (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Devraj to Jyoti. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 1083–. ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
  9. ^ Ashish Rajadhyaksha; Paul Willemen (10 July 2014). Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Routledge. pp. 159–. ISBN 978-1-135-94318-9.
  10. ^ Sisir Kumar Das (2006). History of Indian Literature: 1911-1956, struggle for freedom : triumph and tragedy. Sahitya Akademi. p. 656. ISBN 978-81-7201-798-9.
  11. ^ K. M. George (1972). Western Influence on Malayalam Language and Literature. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 148–. ISBN 978-81-260-0413-3.
  12. ^ K. M. George (1998). Western influence on Malayalam language and literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 151. ISBN 978-81-260-0413-3.
  13. ^ Pillai, Kainikkara Padmanabha; Congress Committee; Kerala Pradesh (1959). The Red interlude in Kerala. Trivandrum. OCLC 254015907.
  14. ^ R. Ramakrishnan Nair (1965). How communists came to power in Kerala. Kerala Academy of Political Science.
  15. ^ Thomas Johnson Nossiter (1982). Communism in Kerala: a study in political adaptation. C. Hurst for the Royal Institute of International Affairs. ISBN 978-0-905838-40-3.
  16. ^ "SAHITHYA ACADEMI AWARD WINNERS# from 1959 to 1999..." Malayalam Padam. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  17. ^ "Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Drama". Kerala Sahitya Akademi. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  18. ^ "The Hindu : In Thiruvananthapuram Today". www.thehindu.com. Retrieved 16 April 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]