An Appeal

The Government of Kerala headed by Shri Oommen Chandy in their Annual Budget for 2012-2013 provided a budget allotment of Rs.10 lakhs for the C. V. Raman Pillai National Foundation for erecting a statue of C. V. Raman Pillai in Thiruvananthapuram. The Government of Kerala on the request of the Foundation also assigned a site within the State Central Library Campus (in front of the Children’s Library Building adjacent to the Trivandrum Public Library Building) for installing the proposed statue.
Following this, the Foundation got in touch with a few well-known sculptors in Thiruvananthapuram. According to the lowest estimate given by the sculptors, the total cost of making and installing a life-size bronze statue will be Rs.25 lakhs.
The Foundation therefore appeals to Keralites and lovers of their mother tongue, Malayalam, who feel proud about the fact that Malayalam has been accorded “classical status” by the President of India to contribute to this project to honour a literary great.

Please send your contributions to the C.V. Raman Pillai National Foundation
SB Account Number 57026947201, State Bank of Travancore, Sasthamangalam Branch (Branch Code 70023); IFSC – SBTR0000023; SWIFT CODE – SBTRINBB023.


Shri T. Padmanabhan, a renowned Malayalam short story writer, in an interview to the Malayala Manorama (published on February 1, 2015), spoke thus about C.V. Raman Pillai’s magnum opus, ‘Ramaraja Bahadur’: “The ‘greatest novel in Malayalam’ (he said in English) is C. V. Raman Pillai’s ‘Ramaraja Bahadur’. In my view, ‘Number One’. Sometime later, when K. P. Appan (the late renowned literary critic in Malayalam), said so himself, I felt happy.”

Dr. K. Ayyappa Paniker, well-known poet and literary critic, says in ‘A Short History of Malayalam Literature’: “The inscrutable destiny of man – of both the individual and the masses – is the central theme of ‘Ramaraja Bahadur’… the structure of the plot, the skill in characterization, the narrative and descriptive skill, all these are merely the means to the ultimate end of unravelling this mystery. ‘Ramaraja Bahadur’ has attempted this more successfully than any other Malayalam novel written so far.”

C. V. Raman Pillai has been ranked with Shakespeare and Dostoevsky by respected critics like Prof. Joseph Mundassery and Prof. Sukumar Azhikode, novelists like Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and N.P. Mohammed, and poets ONV Kurup and Sugathakumari.

C. V. Raman Pillai (1858— 1922) was an Indian novelist and playwright in Malayalam.

Born of middle class parents on May 19, 1858, Pillai had a traditional Sanskritized education which included lessons in Ayurveda and even magic and Tantra. Kerala’s folklore and Kathakali became an integral part of literary metier. He drew out myriad forgotten episodes from his country’s history and the genius in him wove them into unforgettable epics.

His foray into journalism was pioneering. Gifted alike in English and Malayalam, he was an early builder of Kerala’s Fourth Estate. His sharp and incisive pen brought forth first, The Kerala Patriot, then the ‘ ‘Malayali and finally the Mitabhashi.

Pillai is classed with the greats in Indian literature like Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Harinarayan Apte. In the grand epic sweep of his great classics, Marthanda Varma, Dharmaraja and Ramarajabahadur, he is in the class of the great Vyasa. In world literature he ranks with Dostoevsky.

Modern Malayalam drama traces its origins to Pillai’s works. Original Malayalam in prose began with his eleven farces, nine of which were published. They set the tone and paved the way for the Kerala theatre that it is now.

His very first attempt at literary creation, was the first original play in Malayalam. Candramukhivilasam was written in 1884 and was staged for four days successively in 1887 at the Maharaja’s College, Trivandrum. This was also the first staging of a play in Malayalam by educated amateur actors.

In 1885, Martandavarma was published in Madras in 1891. It was an instant hit and editorially hailed by The Hindu of Madras, on December 21, 1891. It continues to be a popular classic even today.

For nearly twenty years from 1891, Pillai did not produce any major literary works. 1909 saw the production of his major comedy, Kurupillakalari. It was in 1913, a year after he quit his job in protest that he wrote his second novel, Dharmaraja, the first of a trilogy, that he conceived on an epic scale. The novel marked him out as a master craftsman in fiction. In 1915 he wrote a social novel, Premamritam which is the first satirical fiction in Malayalam. C.V.’s masterpiece however is Ramarajabahadur, published in 1918 and hailed by outstanding critics as the greatest novel in Malayalam so far.

Pillai died on March 21, 1922.