OV: Writer of many talents

Updated on Mar 30, 2005 01:25 PM IST

Cartoonist, novelist, writer and satirist - Vijayan's death marks the end of an era.

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PTI | BySanu George (Indo-Asian News Service), Thiruvananthapuram

Cartoonist, novelist, short story writer and master satirist Oottupulackal Velukkutty Vijayan passed away Wednesday, leaving behind a volume of work that will always live on. He was 75.

One of Kerala's - and India's - most famous litterateurs, OV Vijayan breathed his last at a private hospital in Hyderabad. He is survived by his wife Theresa and son Madhu who lives in the US.

Credited as an early exponent of modern Malayalam fiction, the man with the trademark French beard and flowing hair had many other avatars, and many other talents, as he delved into various art forms, drawing cartoons, writing novels as well as short stories and articles.

Starting off as a lecturer, the much awarded Vijayan has to his credit several novels, besides short stories, articles and the masterpiece

Born in Palakkad July 2, 1930, Vijayan grew up as a loner as his father, a police official in the erstwhile Madras Province of British India, moved from one police camp to another.

He began his education at Raja's High School in Kottackal in Malabar, then moved to a school in Palakkad before graduating in arts from the Government Victoria College in the town.

Vijayan later left for Madras, now Chennai, and did a masters in English literature from Presidency College.

After returning from Madras, he taught for some time at the Malabar Christian College, Calicut, and at his alma mater Government Victoria College.

But his heart was clearly elsewhere. And in 1958 he quit his lecturer's job and went to Delhi to join Shanker's Weekly as a cartoonist and writer of political satire.

After five years on the job he moved to Patriot as a staff cartoonist and subsequently worked for The Hindu and The Statesman before becoming a freelancer.

It was in Delhi that Vijayan got married to Theresa Gabriel, a professor in philosophy.

He burst into the literary field with his best known Khasakkinte Ithihasam in 1969, a novel about the imaginary land of Khasak.

The literary floodgates opened after that. Vijayan then went on to write five more works, all of which were critical and commercial hits.

Vijayan took the liberty of reinterpreting history to suit the needs of his story line, and pitted contemporary reality against age-old insights propounded by Indian philosophy with great felicity.

His political writings were noted for their visionary insights into political developments.

He was equally comfortable in the field of short-story writing. Kadaltheerathu, Kattuparanjakatha and Parakal were some of his best known works.

Vijayan, who faced criticism for attacking socialists, moved towards spiritualism, developing an affinity for religion and its gurus that was evident in Gurusagaram.

He was awarded several times. In 1990, he won the State and Central Academy awards in 1990, the Vayalar Rama Varma award in 1991, the Muttathu Varkey award in 1992 and the Ezhuthachan Puruskaram in 2003.

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