Malayattoor Ramakrishnan – A bureaucrat with creative bend of mind

Malayattoor Ramakrishnan was a prominent lawyer, an IAS officer, a writer and a cartoonist. He molded well in all these capacities and carved a niche for himself in the social fabric of the state. Some of his creative works were used in the celluloid canvas to make hit films.


Malayattoor Ramakrishnan was a prominent lawyer and an IAS officer. When he was in the service, he had held many prominent posts in state government. He was also a powerful writer and a good cartoonist. As a writer in Malayalam language, he penned short stories, novels and biographical sketches of different personalities in the state. Some of his works are Yanthram, Verukal, Yakshi, and Service Story. He had even translated the famous works like Bram Stocker's Dracula and Sherlock Holmes novels into Malayalam language. He regularly drew caricatures for the Shankar's daily initially.

Early Life

He was born in 1927 as K.V. Ramakrishna Iyer in a place called Kalpathi in Palghat district of Kerala. He was one of the six siblings of his Kerala Ayer parents. Later on, his family migrated from Kalpathi in Palghat district to a small village in Thottuva in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. In his school days, he started to write short stories and draw pictures of the objects around him. During his formative years, he had his formal education in Perumbavoor and Aluva. After completing his LLB degree course in Trivandrum, he started to practice law in Cochin as a young advocate. During 1950s, he started to like the principles of Communism. Later he contested in Kerala assembly elections as an independent candidate with the support of leftist parties. Unfortunately, he lost in the election. In 1954, he married Krishnaveni. They had two children from their marriage.

Career as an IAS Officer

His stint in the government service began when he joined the Kerala Judicial Service as a Magistrate in 1954. Later in 1957, he secured a place in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). As an IAS officer, he began his service as Sub-collector in Ottapalam, a place in Palghat district of Kerala. Continuing his service as IAS officer, he became Kozhikode collector, and held various positions in Secretariat later. During his stint at the Secretariat, he became a Revenue Board member and the Chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi. Later in his life, he wrote his memoirs on his stint in the Kerala government service as a bureaucrat. The work on his memoirs as a bureaucrat was published as Service Story – Ente IAS Dinangal.

Career as a Writer and Cartoonist

Along with P.T. Bhaskara Panicker, E.M.J Venniyoor and T.N. Jayachandran, Malayattoor Ramakrishnan established the Chitra Kala Parishad. Later, he joined as a sub-editor in The Free Press Journal in Mumbai. As a writer, he came into limelight in 1965 when a semi-autobiography written by him got a Kerala Sahithya Academy award. The name of the work was Verukal. This work portrays the story of a family of Tamil-speaking Iyers who got settled in Kerala.

In the year 1967, another work came from his pen in the form of a novel. The name of the novel was Ponni. This novel was based on the lifestyles of Adivasis in Attapady village. The novel tells the story of an Adivasi family that got affected by the Kerala government ban on Slash and Burn cultivation. In the story, the character sets out to the outside world in search of new jobs, as he lost his job in his village due to the government ban on the cultivation. This novel was adapted into the celluloid canvas and a film was made with the same title. In this film, Kamal Hassan and Lakshmi did the title roles. In this movie, the courtship dance and traditional songs were depicted in a realistic manner. After the success of his novel Ponni, he began to write scripts for Malayalam movies as well. The scripts written by him for the films such as Yakshi and Iyer the Great have so far stood the test of time as good creative works.

After getting the literary award and the successful adaptation of his novel into celluloid, his confidence as a writer grew with time. Hence in 1981, he left his lucrative career in a government job and devoted his full time to creative writing. His most productive period as a writer was between 1981 and 1997. During this period, many of his creative works emerged from his pen. They are Yakshi, Yanthram, Netoor Matham, and Amritham Thedi. The Vayalar award was given to him for his work on Yanthram. Malayattoor Ramarkrishnan was a cartoonist and a painter. Some of his paintings are displayed in the Kerala Chitra Tirunal Gallery.


Malayattoor Ramakrishnan was a writer and a cartoonist. Some of his works were adapted into the celluloid medium for their artistic value and substance. One of his works by the name Yanthram got Vayalar award. The literary world of the state recognized the writing talent in him when he wrote a semi-autobiography by the name Verukal. For this work, he got the Kerala Sahithya Academy award. Apart from his stint in writing, he found time to draw pictures of the objects and themes around him. Some of his painting works are retained in the Kerala Chitra Tirunal Academy for the people to have a look at. He was also an able administrator and a magistrate.

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