Jnanpith-winner poet O N V Kurup dead

Jnanpith-winner poet O N V Kurup dead

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Jnanpith-winner poet O N V Kurup dead

Jnanpith Award-winning poet and one of Kerala’s most celebrated literary icons O N V Kurup died at a private hospital here on Saturday due to age-related ailments. 

He was 84. Popularly known as ONV, he was an active presence in Kerala’s socio-cultural spaces since the 1950s and is widely considered as the writer who brought poetry closest to film lyrics. A recipient of the Padma Shri and the Padma Vibhushan, he has also won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi and Kerala Sahitya Akademi awards. He is survived by wife Sarojini and two children–Rajeevan and Mayadevi. ONV’s body will be kept at the VJT Hall here on Sunday for public to pay respects. The cremation, with full state honours, will be held on Monday. 

Agni shalabhangal, Karutha pakshiyude paattu, Aksharam, Mrigaya and Bhoomikkoru charamageetham are among his most celebrated works in poetry.

ONV was open about his Left-leaning political ideology and was a major creative force which steered Kerala People’s Arts Club, an iconic theatre troupe from the 1950s which ran parallel to Kerala’s social renaissance.  

In films, ONV worked with prolific music directors across styles and generations to create hugely popular songs which also stood the test of time–G Devarajan (Kaattupookkal, Kumarasambhavam), M B Sreenivasan (Chillu, Yavanika, Ulkkadal), Salil Chowdhary (Swapnam, Madanotsavam), Ilayaraja (Olangal, Yaathra), Johnson (Koodevide?) Raveendran (Sukhamo Devi) and Ravi (Panchagni, Nakhakshatangal, Vaishali) among his most successful collaborators. ONV won the National Film Award for best lyricist for ‘Vaishali’ (1989).

Born on May 27, 1931 in Kollam, ONV started his teaching career at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, in 1957. He later taught Malayalam at University College, Thiruvananthapuram and Government Brennen College, Thalassery. In 1989, he contested a Lok Sabha election from Thiruvananthapuram as a Left-backed independent candidate, but was defeated.