Malayattoor Ramakrishnan

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Malayattoor Ramakrishnan
Malayattoor Ramakrishnan.jpg
Born K. V. Ramakrishna Iyer
(1927-05-27)27 May 1927
Malabar District,
Madras Presidency,
British India
Died 27 December 1997(1997-12-27) (aged 70)
Occupation IAS officer, author, cartoonist
Spouse(s) Krishnaveni (1935–1999)
Relatives Jayaram (nephew)[1]

Malayattoor Ramakrishnan (27 May 1927 – 27 December 1997) was a prominent Malayalam writer and cartoonist from Kerala, India. He authored novels, short stories and biographical sketches. Yanthram, Verukal, Yakshi and Service Story are some of his most famous works. Malayattoor Ramakrishnan was also a practicing lawyer, a Judicial Magistrate and an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, and has held various prominent posts. He was also the uncle of the famous actor Jayaram.

Early life[edit]

Malayattoor Ramakrishnan was born on 27 May 1927 as K. V. Ramakrishna Iyer in Kalpathi near Palghat in the Malabar district of Madras Presidency, British India. He was one of six siblings. The family settled down in a small village (Thottuva – Cheranalloor East) near the banks of the Periyar River. He studied in Perumbavoor and in Aluva and completed his bachelor's degree and a law degree in Thiruvananthapuram.

Even during his student days, he had started writing and cartooning. He became a communist sympathiser and even contested Kerala assembly elections in Perumbavoor only to lose. In 1954, he married Krishnaveni (1935–1999). They had two children.


After earning the BL degree he started his career as an Advocate. Malayattoor was also instrumental in the setting up of Chithrakala Parishad along with P.T.Bhaskara Panicker, E.M.J.Venniyoor and T.N.Jayachandran in 1952. He fought the 1954 election to Thiru-Kochi legislative assembly as an independent candidate with support from leftist political parties, but failed to win. Later he started his work as a sub-editor in The Free Press Journal in Mumbai. He was a contributing cartoonist to Shankar's Weekly. He is also credited with the first Malayalam translation of Bram Stoker's Dracula apart from translating Sherlock Holmes novels into Malayalam.

In 1954, Ramakrishnan entered the Kerala judicial service and served as a magistrate. In 1957, he entered the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). He served as Sub-Collector in Ottapalam, Collector in Kozhikode, and held various positions in the Secretariat of Kerala, including as Member, Board of Revenue and Chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi. The memoirs of his long career as a bureaucrat are narrated in his work Service Story – Ente IAS Dinangal.

Malayattoor wrote his best known work – Verukal (Roots) in 1965. It is a semi-autobiographical work which tells the story of a family of Tamil speaking Iyers who settled in Kerala.[2] This won him the Kerala Sahithya Academy Award.[3] In 1981, he resigned from the Indian Administrative Service to devote his time to writing. It was during the period 1981 to 1997 that his most famous works emerged from his pen. Among his other famous novels are Yakshi, Yanthram, Nettoor Mathom and Amritham Thedi. For Yanthram, he was awarded the Vayalar Award.

Malayattoor's novel Ponni (1967), was based on the lifestyle of Adivasis of Attappady at Malleswaram Hills. Slash and burn cultivation practised by the Adivasis suddenly stopped by the Government forcing them to search for new jobs. The hero changes his hair style to suit the times. The courtship dance and traditional songs were depicted in a realistic way. Ponni's characters talked and sang a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam with a tinge of Kannada. Its film adaptation of the same name had Kamal Hasan and Lakshmi in the lead roles.

Malayattoor had also authored scripts for several films. The most famous of these were Yakshi starring Sathyan, Chembarathi starring Madhu and Iyer the Great starring Mammootty. Malayattoor was also a well-known cartoonist and painter. For some years, he was Chairman of the Kerala Lalit Kala Academy. Some of his paintings are displayed in the Kerala Chitra Tirunal Art Gallery.

Apart from being a writer, he had also worked as an IAS officer, Magistrate and Lawyer. Before joining IAS, he contested to Kerala assembly on a Left front ticket. Malayattoor remained active though his later years and was working on a novel when he died in 1997 at Thiruvananthapuram. He was given a state funeral by the Government of Kerala.

Posts held[edit]

  • Mattancherry Judicial Second Class Magistrate
  • Kanayannoor Judicial Second Class Magistrate
  • Karunagappally Judicial First Class Magistrate
  • Alappuzha Sub-collector
  • Devikulam Sub-collector
  • Ottappalam Sub-collector
  • Thrissur Sub-collector
  • Kozhikode District Collector
  • Health and Labour Department Deputy Secretary
  • Revenue Board Secretary
  • Harijan Kshema Vakuppu Director
  • Civil Supplies (Food) Joint Secretary and Civil Supplies Secretary
  • Vellodi Bharanaparishkara committee member
  • Travancore Cochin Chemicals (TCC) general manager
  • Travancore Cochin Chemicals (TCC) managing director
  • Lalita Kala Akademi chairman
  • Revenue Secretary
  • Agriculture Department Additional Secretary
  • Local Administration Secretary
  • Kerala State Road Transport Corporation general manager
  • Vigilance Secretary
  • Revenue board member
  • Industries Department Commissioner and Secretary
  • Transport Commissioner

Published works[edit]


  • Doctor Vezhambal (Doctor Hornbill, 1964)
  • Verukal (Roots, 1966)
  • Yakshi (Fairy, 1967)
  • Ponni (1967)
  • Dvandvayuddham (Duel, 1970)
  • Yanthram (Machine, 1976)
  • Ananthayathra (Eternal Travel, 1988)
  • Nettoor Matham (Nettur Family, 1988)
  • Mrithiyude Kavadam (Doorways to Death, 1989)
  • Aaram Viral (The Sixth Finger)
  • Swaram (Sound)
  • Mukthichakram
  • Manassile Manikyam
  • Amritham Thedi
  • Anju Cent (Five Cents of Land)
  • Thudakkam Odukkam
  • Rakthachandanam
  • Rathri (Night)
  • Mridulaprabhu
  • Shirassil Varachathu
  • Vishabeejam

Short stories[edit]

  • Aadyatthe Kesu (First Case, 1952)
  • Avakashi (Heir, 1956)
  • Soochimukhi (One with a Needle-face, 1957)
  • Verukalkkoranubandham
  • Brigadier Kathakal (Brigadier Stories)
  • Brigadierum Penmarukum
  • Thiranhedutha Kathakal (Selected Stories)
  • Arabiyum Ottakavum (The Arab and the Camel)
  • Parakkunna Thalika (Flying Saucer)
  • Naalu Anju (Four Five)
  • Malabar Hillum Forard Roadum
  • Pambu (Snake)
  • Sputnikum Gotti Thomasum
  • Sherlock Holmes Kathakal


  • Ormakalude Album (The Album of Memories; Reminiscences)
  • Service Story Ente IAS Dinangal (Service Story My IAS Days; Reminiscences)
  • Nammude Shikshaniyamam
  • Manjamukham (Translation)
  • Nadodikkappalil Nanumasam (Translation)


  1. ^ Chandra Kumar, Sujit (29 October 2015). "An obsession that’s too big". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 6 July 2017. 
  2. ^ "Verukal (Roots) : Novel Review". Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Desiccated roots"