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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

International Literature Festival of Kerala: Malayalam poet calls out poor remuneration

In a note titled ‘My Worth’ sent to his friend CICC Jayachandran, who in turn shared it on Facebook on Saturday, Balachandran Chullikkad revealed that he was paid Rs 2,400 and had to spend another Rs 1,100 from his pocket to pay for a cab he hired to travel from his home in Ernakulam to the venue in Thrissur, a distance of about 75km

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 04.02.24, 05:50 AM
Balachandran Chullikkad

Balachandran Chullikkad The Telegraph

Malayalam poet and orator Balachandran Chullikkad has brought to light the plight of litterateurs by sharing how his taxi tab was more than what he was paid for a two-hour presentation at a recent literature festival organised by the Kerala Sahitya Academy in Thrissur.

In a note titled “My Worth” sent to his friend CICC Jayachandran, who in turn shared it on Facebook on Saturday, Chullikkad revealed that he was paid Rs 2,400 and had to spend another Rs 1,100 from his pocket to pay for a cab he hired to travel from his home in Ernakulam to the venue in Thrissur, a distance of about 75km.

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In the hard-hitting note, Chullikkad shared with the entire Malayali community his woes after being treated shoddily by the organiser of the International Literature Festival of Kerala that began on January 28 and ended on Saturday.

“To the Malayalis who pay tens of thousands to lakhs for mimicry and singing, I thank you for fixing my worth at Rs 2,400.”

He began the note by narrating the sequence of events.

“It was on January 30 that I realised the actual worth the people of Kerala have given me. An international literary festival at the Kerala people’s Sahitya Academy. The academy invited me to speak on Kumaran Asan’s ‘Karuna’ kavyam (poetry).”

“I reached there on time and spoke for two hours. What I spoke was based on what I learned from reading Asan’s poems for over 50 years. The remuneration I was given was Rs 2,400,” Chullikkad explained.

“I spent Rs 3,500 for a taxi from Ernakulam to Thrissur, including the waiting charge and the driver’s duty allowance. I paid the remaining Rs 1,100 from my earnings from acting in television serials,” Chullikkad said, apparently addressing those who have been critical of his parallel acting career that has of late become his main source of income.

“Dear enlightened Malayalis. I have never tried to be a member of your Sahitya Academy or bow before ministers to get awards or positions. Never will I do that,” Chullikkad, who had declined the Kerala Sahitya Academy award in 2001, said.

“I have one request. Please don’t trouble me with your literary requirements. Please don’t take away whatever time is left in my life. I have other things to do,” he wrote.

Kerala Sahitya Academy president and poet K. Satchidanandan explained it as a mistake although the amount was based on an existing formula. “The office calculated the amount based on the distance travelled. But that wasn’t right and I was not consulted before deciding on the amount,” Satchidanandan told reporters.

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