Pamman (Parameshwara Menon) is a name that is very famous among the Malayali community, yet we have conveniently and completely forgotten him. The ignorance has reached upto a level that there were too little reaction about his demise on June 4 this year. I was Googling for him and could find only a couple of links about him.
For the non-Keralites, Pamman was a novelist who spat on the Malayali moral hypocrisies with his novels. You would better remember him if I said he is the story writer of the famous Hindi movie Julie (1975) which was remade from the original Malayalam movie Chattakari. Pamman received the Kerala state award for Best Story for Chattakari. He had co-written screenplay for the noted film director K. G. George for his state award winning first film Swapnadanam. He also won the state award three times for best story.
Pamman is widely known in Kerala for his erotic novels. Even though the themes of his novels could be seen in real life, it was often considered as 'bad literature' because of it's erotic nature. Thus a writer who would have been celebrated as a classic writer if he was born in the west, degraded to the status of a porn writer. I used to wonder how can Pamman be so neglected in our literary debates and discussions while the writers like D. H. Lawrence (Lady Chatterley's Lover) or Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita) are celebrated as classic writers even in this part of the world. Ask any Malayali men, and I do not hope that many of them would openly admit it, but almost all of them would have read at least one novel written by Pamman. There are a couple of reasons. Pamman's novels were available from the public libraries and it satisfied the erotic reading needs of teenage boys to older men in Kerala. It was a kind of literature that a parent would never entertain their boys to read, but the boys would secretly read. But it can never be compared to those cheap porno books.
I believe that Malayalis have read Pamman's works more than they read MT, Mukundan or VKN, but they chose to totally ignore him. But I am sure he will be ready by many generations to come.
Kerala's Harold Robbins no more (Indian Express)
Pammante Kathakal (Amazon)
(Image courtesy: Indian Express)