Novelist gets threat calls for writing on Kannur

via VR Jayaraj | Kannur - Daily Pioneer published on July 7, 2009

Are novelists entitled to unlimited right to expression when it comes to matters relating to the CPI(M), that too in Kannur where, according to political gossips, even crows would fear to fly without the party’s permission? A Malayalam pulp novelist is now complaining that he is getting calls threatening to kill him for daring to make the murderous Marxist politics of Kannur the background for his new run-of-the-mill novel, being serialised in a popular pulp weekly published from Kottayam.

Mezhuveli Babuji is just another pulp novelist, but he is now an important figure in the discussions among Marxist leaders of Kannur district. The reason: The hero of his novel Sarvadhipan, Karnan, a communist party activist, dares to take on the ominous powers of the organization in Kannur to marry his sister off to a young man belonging to the opposite political camp.

The novel is set in the most politically turbulent areas of Kannur, like Thalassery, Dharmadam, Panur and Pannyannur, which have seen several political murders in the past three decades. The protagonist himself is a member of the local committee of the communist party in Pannyannur but that does not prevent him from taking a decision to marry his sister off to a man from the enemy camp.

For this reason, his party launches a hunt against him but Karnan, born and brought up in the same furnace of political turbulence, faces them with the same determination. Even the novelist says it is an ordinary novel, the kind of which is seen in all the pulp weeklies in Kerala, but some people do not like to take it so lightly, he says.

Sarvadhipan is yet another cheap thriller coming in the class of the ones which usually would have the eastern high ranges for their setting. All the characters in the novel of Babuji are also cast in the same mould seen in other pulp novels, the content of which is without any change the conflict between forces of corruption, power, underworld and a righteous human being who could have gone astray at some moment in life.

But some people are not so tolerant towards such “innocent” novels, especially when the black characters have real-life parallels in the Marxist party. For example, the district secretary of the party, which is hunting Karnan, and his associates are all ruthless rulers who depend on muscle power and arms for political operations. Babuji says that he is getting calls that threaten to chop off his legs or hands and even to kill him.

However, showing some courage that his character Karnan shows in the novel, the novelist says that he is determined to complete the novel, which is being serialized in a very popular pulp weekly. He hopes that the controversies could boost the popularity of his work and could help him get better remuneration from the publishers.

Sociologists want the political parties in Kannur to get ready for an examination of why such novelists are now making the politically violent district the setting for their works.

They say the district, with its never-ending series of political murders has become the symbol of social evil just like the jungles of Idukki district where the mafia grew cannabis and engaged in poaching at will with the support of political and police bosses.

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