C. N. Sreekantan Nair – Celebrated playwright of Malayalam who authored trilogy of Ramayana
C. N. Sreekantan Nair (1928–1976) was a renowned writer belonging to Malayalam literature, and an Indian independence activist. He wrote short stories, plays and screenplays and earned immense popularity as a playwright. Nair is best remembered for the play, Kanchana Seetha (1961), followed by Saketham and Lankalakshmi – a trilogy based on the epic work Ramayana. Kanchana Seetha received the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award in 1962. Lankalakshmi was another acclaimed play inspired from epic Ramayana.
C. N. Sreekantan Nair – An activist turned playwright
Sreekantan Nair was born on March 31, 1928, at Thiruvananthapuram. During his school days he was involved with student politics. Later he served as the secretary of Akhila Thiruvithamcoor Vidyarthi Congress and as the vice president of the Akhilendhya Vidyarthi Congress. He completed his education post-independence and started his career in journalism field.
At first he worked with Prabhodham daily run by A. P. Udhayabhanu, followed by Navabharatham, Kaumudi, Tharapadham, Kathamalika and Deshabhandhu. He also worked in Department of Information and Public Relations for a brief period. He served as an editor for a few journals, and directed a few plays too.
He authored 10 plays
He contributed 10 plays, 4 short story anthologies and a book of non-fiction to Malayalam literature. His best contribution is Ramayana trilogy. His works exposed his poetic and philosophic skills. Aa Kani Thinnaruth, Pichippoo, Sindoorappottu, Nashtakkachavadam, Aettile Pashu, Madhuvidhu, Thilakkunna Ponnu, Puliyilakkara Neryath etc are his published works.
Nair was married to Kanakangi Amma and the couple had two children. Towards the end of his life, he was inclined towards spirituality. He was a recipient of Kendra Sahitya Academy Award, M. P. Paul Prize and many other honours.
“Kanchana Sita” – Nair’s most celebrated work
Sreekantan Nair took inspiration for his play “Kanchana Sita” from the Uttara Kanda of Valmiki’s Ramayana. It questions Rama’s dharma from diverse points of view, mainly as a woman’s view point. The work earned him Kendra Sahitya Academy Award in 1962. In 2005 the British Council and Oxford University Press translated the work to English. Translation was done by Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan. The play was also adapted to big screen in 1977.
C. N. Sreekantan Nair – Some interesting and less-known facts
1. His celebrated play Kanchana Seetha was adapted to big screen by renowned director G. Aravindan in 1977. The movie was titled the same.
2. He participated in the Vidyarthi Congress of 1947, which was banned back then. He had to go into hiding.
3. He was worked as the district information officer of Department of Information and Public Relations. Later he quit the job following indifference with then Chief Minister R. Sankar.