ONV Award To Vairamuthu To Be Re-Examined After Massive Criticism!

Many Voices Unite!

The ONV Cultural Academy released a statement saying that they will re-examine their decision of presenting this year’s ONV Award to poet-lyricist Vairamuthu. The Academy’s initial decision faced massive criticism and many called it a shame to the Jnanpith-award winning poet ONV Kurup, in whose memory these awards are presented annually. The jury was questioned as to why the award was being presented to an accused of sexual harassment. The decision to reconsider was made on the advice of the jury, said a statement released by the Academy on May 28.


The Cultural Academy chairman is renowned director Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Initially he had given a statement saying the award is given for excellence in writing and not after examining a person’s character. “Vairamuthu was considered by the jury for his excellent writing. I do not know if the jury knows he is a person facing such charges. My personal opinion is that awards should not be decided on the basis of character. As chairman of the Cultural Society, I do not interfere in the decisions of the jury,” he had said to Malayalam web portal The Cue. On 28 May, the chairman said that they will reconsider the decision.“At the instance of the selection committee, the award is now under reconsideration,” the statement said.


Kerala Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan is Chief Patron of the academy and prolific writer MT Vasudevan Nair and singer KJ Yesudas are the patrons. The decision was shocking to many as the Academy consisted of renowned personalities. Many from the Malayalam Film Industry voiced out their concern regarding the decision of the jury. Members of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) including Parvathy Thiruvothu, Reema Kallingal, Geethu Mohandas and many others questioned the jury to present the award to a poet who has allegations from nearly 17 women including singer Chinmayi. 


The prestigious ONV Award is presented annually to people who have created an impact in the field of literature. This year, for the first time, the jury consisting of poet Prabha Varma, Malayalam University Vice-Chancellor Anil Vallathol and writer Alankode Leelakrishnan decided to present to a non-Malayali writer. The award includes a statue, a citation and a cash prize of Rs.3,00,000. The honour is huge and the criticism was made in order to ensure that there is no careless handing over of the award itself. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin shared a picture congratulating Vairamuthu for the award. This stirred up more conversation with regard to the MeToo movement and the political backing of the poet.

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