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Madampu Kunjukuttan, Veteran Malayalam Writer-Actor, Dies of Covid-19

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Madampu Kunjukuttan, the veteran Malayalam screenwriter, actor and author, died of Covid-19 complications at a private hospital in Thrissur Kerala, on Tuesday.

He was 80.

Kunjukuttan had been suffering from age-related ailments for some time. On Sunday, he complained of breathlessness and fever and was immediately rushed to the hospital.

Kunjukuttan was born as Madampu Sankaran Namboothiri in 1941 in Kiralur village in Thrissur. He studied Sanskrit and worked as a Sanskrit teacher at Kodungalloor and was also a priest at a temple.

He wrote several novels and short stories in Malayalam including Aswathamavu, Avighnamasthu, Bhrashtu, Entharo Mahanubhavulu, Nishadam, Pathalam, Aryavarthanam, Amrithasya Puthrah and Thonnyasam.  His novel, Mahaprasthanam, won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Best Novel in 1983.

He had written the screenplay for movies such as Makalkku, Gourisankaram and Saphalam.  Kunjukuttan won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay for Karunam, directed by Jayaraj in 2000. Kunjukuttan and Jayaraj had also collaborated for a hit film titled Desadanam in 1996 and Shantham in 2000.

In 2003, he won the award for best screenplay for his film Parinamam at the Ashdod International Film Festival in Israel.

Kunjukuttan has also acted in films like Aanachantham, Vadakkumnadhan, Agninakshathram, Aaraam Thampuran, Chirakodinja Kinavukal, and Aattakatha.

Kunjukuttan had expertise in the treatment of elephants as he had studied Hasthyayurveda. He also hosted a show called E 4 Elephants along with its director Sreekumar Arookutty on Kairali TV.

In 2002, Kunjukuttan contested in the Kerala state assembly elections from the Kodungallur constituency as a BJP candidate but did not win.

He is survived by his wife Savithri and two daughters Jaseena and Haseena.

The Malayalam film fraternity and Kerala Sahitya Akademi mourned Kunjukuttan’s death.

Speaking to Silverscreen India, KP Mohanan, secretary of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi said that Kunjukuttan had a good relationship with the Akademi for many years but towards the end of his life he was not active due to health-related ailments. He noted that in October 2020, Kunjukuttan visited the campus to pay respect to the late Akkitham, Malayalam poet and essayist. 

Bhrashtu, a novel about the life of Kuriyedath Thathri, a Namboothiri woman who was subjected to Smarthavicharam [trial of Kerala upper-caste women who were accused of illegitimate sexual relations], male chauvinism and patriarchy was one of the prominent works of Kunjukuttan,” he said.

He added that Kunjukuttan was famous for connecting Puranas with the contemporary world in his writings. 

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