Vaikom Mohammed Basheer

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (1908-1994) one of the most popular Malayalam fiction writer,also a humanist,a freedom fighter, as well as novelist and short story writer,one of those outspoken figures who revolutionized Malayalam Literature, regarded as one of the prominent literary figures ever existed in india. Translations of his works into other languages have won him worldwide acclaim. His notable works include Baalyakaalasakhi, Mathilukal, Shabdangal, PaaththummaayudeAadu, Ntuppuppaakkoraanaendaarnnu and Anarga Nimisham. He is fondly remembered as the “Beypore Sultan”(the king of Bepur).

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Basheer is known for his unconventional style of language. He wrote in the colloquial language of Malabar how people speak or rather wrote in the language of his characters. He did not differentiate between literary language and the language spoken by the common people and did not care about the grammatical correctness of his sentences. Almost all of Basheer’s writing can be seen as falling under the heading of prose fiction – short stories and novels, though there is also a one-act play and volumes of essays and reminiscences. Basheer’s fiction is very varied and full of contrasts. There are poignant situations as well as merrier ones – and commonly both in the same narrative. There are among his output realistic stories and tales of the supernatural.

Mathilukal (“Walls”) is Basheer’s own story,deals with prison life in the pre-independence days, was made into a Malayalam movie starring super star Mammotty, directed by renowned director Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Mammotty got Best Actor National award for breathing life into this role.

Ntuppuppaakkoraanaendaarnnu (“Me Gran’dad ‘ad an Elephant”, 1951) is a fierce attack on the superstitious practices that existed among Muslims. Its protagonist is Kunjupathumma, a naive, innocent and illiterate village belle. She falls in love with an educated, progressive, city-bred man, Nisaar Ahamed. Illiteracy is fertile soil for superstitions, and the novel is about education enlightening people and making them shed age-old conventions. Velichathinentoru velicham one of the most quoted Basheer phrases occurs in Ntuppuppaakkoraanaendaarnnu. People boast of the glory of days past, their “grandfather’s elephants”, but that is just a ploy to hide their shortcomings.He is also regarded as the translators nightmare. This is mainly because of the colloquial touch he added to his writings, which ethnically speaking would lose its humor and meaning when translated to other languages.

His novel Shabdangal (The Voices) was once banned due to its echo that cyclonized a once feudalistic society.

His literary career started off with the novel Premalekhanam, a humorous love story between Keshavan Nair – a young bank employee and an upper caste Hindu (Nair) – and Saramma – an unemployed Christian woman. Hidden underneath the hilarious dialogues we can see a sharp criticism of religious conservatism, dowry and similar conventions existing in society. This was followed by the novel Baalyakaalasakhi – a tragic love story between Majeed and Suhra – which is among the most important novels in Malayalam literature.

The autobiographical Janmadinam (“Birthday”, 1945) is about a writer struggling to feed himself on his birthday. While many of the stories present situations to which the average reader can easily relate, the darker, seamier side of human existence also finds a major place, as in the novel Shabdangal (“Voices”, 1947), which faced heavy criticism for violence and vulgarity.

Sthalaththe Pradhaana Divyan, Aanavaariyum Ponkurishum, Muccheettukalikkarante makal and Ettukaali Mammoonju featured the life of real life characters in his native village of Thalayolaparambu

He was the sufi among the writers and and the greatest exponent of Gandhian Thought.


He was awarded with Padma Sri in 1982 for his overall contributions to nation as a freedom fighter, writer, and as a political activist.

Basheer, was born in the village of Thalayolaparambu in northern Travancore, he was the eldest child of devout Muslim parents. His father was a timber merchant. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 86, leaving behind his wife and two children.

Published Works

Premalekhanam [ A love letter] (Novel) (1943).

Baalyakaalasakhi [ Sweetheart from childhood] (Novel) (1944).

Kathaabeejam [ Seed of a story ] (Play) (1945).

Janmadinam [Birthday] (Short stories) (1945).

Ormakkurippu [Jottings from memory] (Short stories) (1946).

Anargha nimisham [Invaluable instant] (See Anal Haq) (Short stories) (1946).

Shabdangal [Voices] (Novel) (1947).

Viddhikalude Swargam [Fools' paradise] (Short stories) (1948).

Ente uppuppakkoru aana undayirunnu [Me grandad had an elephant] (Novel) (1951).

Maranathininde Nizhalil [In the shadow of death] (Novel) (1951).

Muchcheettu kalikkaarande Makal [The daughter of the card-shark] (Novel) (1951).

Paavappettavarudey Vaeshya [The courtesan of the poor] (Short stories) (1952).

Sthalathe Pradhaana Divyan [The principal divine of the place] (Novel) (1953).

Aanavaariyum Ponkurishum [Elephant rustler and Golden cross] (Novel) (1953).

Jeevithanizhalppaadukal [The shadows of life] (Novel) (1954).

Vishwavikhkhyaathamaaya Mookku [The world-renowned nose] (Short stories) (1954).

Vishappu [Hunger] (Short stories) (1954).

Paaththummayude Aadu [Paaththumma's goat] (Novel) (1959).

Mathilukal [Walls] (Novel; basis for a film (1989) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan) (1965).

Oru Bhagavadgeethayum Kuraey Mulakalum [A Bhagavadgeetha and some breasts] (Short stories) (1967).

Thaaraa Specials (Novel) (1968).

Maanthrika poochcha [The magic cat] (Novel) (1968).

Nerum Nunayum [Truth and lie] (Commentary and letters) (1969).

Ormmayudaey Arakal [The cells of memory] (Commentary and reminiscences) (1973).

Aanappooda [Elephant-hair] (Short stories) (1975).

Chirikkunna Marappaava [The laughing wooden doll] (Short stories) (1975).

Bhoomiyudaey Avakaashikal [The inheritors of the earth] (Short stories) (1977).

Anuraagaththintaey Dhinangal [The days of desire] (Diary; originally titled Kaamukantaey diary [The diary of the paramour] and changed later on the suggestion of M. T. Vasudevan Nair) (1983).

Bhaargavinilayam [The house named Bhaargavi] (Screenplay for a film (1964) by A. Vincent which is credited as the first horror cinema in malayalam; adapted from the short story Neelavelichcham [The blue glow]) (1985).

M. P. Paul (Reminiscences of his friendship with M. P. Paul) (1991).

Shinkidimunkan (Short stories) (1991).

Cheviyorkkuka! Anthimakaahalam!! [Hark! The final clarion-call!!] (Speech) (1992).

Yaa Ilaahi! [Oh God!] (Short stories published posthumously) (1997)

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