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ONV Kurup And Akhlaq Khan Shahryar Selected For Jnanpith


Veteran Malayalam poet and film lyricist O N V Kurup has bagged the Jnanpith award for 2007. He is the fifth Jnanpith laureate from Kerala and the second poet from the state to win the prestigious award. During his seven-decade-long career, the winner of the country’s highest literary honour bagged several state and national awards, including the Padmashree in 1998.

Kurup, 79, began his illustrious poetic career during his school days. His first work, Poruthunna Soundaryam, was published in 1949. He became a college lecturer in 1957 and continued as an academician for the next 30 years. He started writing lyrics for films in 1955 and over the years has bagged state awards for the best lyricist 12 times.

Reacting to his winning the Jnanpith, Kurup said, “I am writing for better days for humankind. I am still drawing inspiration for writing from the life of my coastal village. The award is recognition of the Malayalam language.”


Ottaplakkal Neelakandan Velu Kurup,popularly known as O.N.V. Kurup, is a Malayalam poet and lyricist from Kerala, India, who won Jnanpith Award,the highest literary award in India for the year 2007. He is acknowledged by the people of Kerala as one of the greatest living poets in India. O. N. V. Kurup is also a lyricist in Malayalam cinema. He received the Padmashri Award from the Government of India in 1998. In 2007 he was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate by University of Kerala, Trivandrum. He is also called O.N.V., without the surname. O. N. V. is known for his leftist leaning.He was the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate in the Thiruvananthapuram constituency for the Lok-Sabha elections in 1989.


O.N.V. Kurup was born to O. N. Krishna Kurup and K. Lakshmikutty Amma, on May 27, 1931 at Chavara, Kollam in Kerala.He lost his father when he was eight. His childhood days were spent in the village where he attended the public ‘Government School, Chavara’. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics from SN College, Kollam, he moved to Thiruvananthapuram city (Trivandrum) where he joined Travancore University (now Kerala University) and pursued Master of Arts (postgraduate) in Malayalam literature.

O.N.V. was a lecturer at Maharajas CollegeErnakulam, University College – Trivandrum, Arts and Science College – Kozhikode, and Brennen CollegeThalassery. He joined Government Women’s College – Trivandrum as the Head of Malayalam Department. He was also a visiting professor at Calicut University. He retired from service in 1986.

ONV received the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honour, for the year 2007.He is the fifth Jnanpith laureate from Kerala and the second Malayalam poet to win the prestigious award.According to a statement by Bharatiya Jnanpith, the trust which presents the award, Kurup began his career as a "progressive writer and matured into a humanist though he never gave up his commitment to socialist ideology".

He is now settled in Vazhuthacaud in Thiruvanathapuram, with his wife Sarojini, son Rajeev, and daughter Mayadevi.


O. N. V.’s first published poem was ‘Munnottu’ (Forward) which appeared in a local weekly in 1946. His first poetry collection named Porutunna Soundaryam, came out in 1949. He published a book named Dahikunna Panapatram (The Thirsty Chalice) which was a collection of his early poems during 1946-1956.

Poetic works


List of Poetry by O. N. V.

# Name Translation in English Year of Publishing
1 Daahikunna Paanapaathram The Thirsty Chalice 1956
2 Marubhumi The Desert  
3 Neelakkannukal Blue Eyes  
4 Mayilpeeli Peacock Feather 1964
5 Oru Thulli Velicham A Drop of Light  
6 Agni Shalabhangal Fire Moths 1971
7 Aksharam Alphabet 1974
8 Karutha Pakshiyude Paattu Song of a Black Bird 1977
9 Uppu The Salt 1980
10 Bhumikku Oru Charama Geetham A Dirge for the Earth 1984
11 Shaarngka Pakshikal   1987
12 Mrigaya Hunting 1990
13 Thonnyaksharangal Nonsense Alphabets 1989
14 Aparahnam Afternoon 1991
15 Ujjayini Ujjain 1994
16 Veruthe Gratis (For Nothing)  
17 Swayamvaram Swayamvara 1995
18 Bhairavante Thudi Drum of Bhairavan  
19 Oyenviyude Ganangal * Songs of O.N.V.  
20 Valappottukal ** Pieces of Bangle  
*Collection of 1500 songs. **Poems for children

Prose list

List of Prose by O. N. V.

# Name Translation in English Year of Publishing
1 Kavitayile Samantara Rekhakal Parallel Lines in Poetry  
2 Kavitayile Pratisandhikal Crisis in Poetry  
3 Ezhuthachan – Oru Padanam Ezhuthachan – A Study  
4 Patheyam Food carried  
5 Kalpanikam Imaginative  
6 Pushkin – Swatantrya Bodhatinte Durantagatha    

As a lyricist

In addition to the valuable contributions he had given to the Malayalam literature, he is one of the leading lyricists in Malayalam film/play/album industry. He was the part of many plays by Kerala People’s Arts Club (KPAC) which has a major remark in the revolutionary movements of Kerala. Kalam Marunnu (1956) was his first film which was also the first film by the famous Malayalam composer G. Devarajan. Since then he has been active in film till date and was honoured with one national award and thirteen state awards (the most by a Malayalee). He has penned for about 900 songs in about 232 films and a numerous songs for plays and albums. His partnerships with Salil Chowdhury and M. B. Sreenivasan was so popular in Malayalam film industry. He has made many hit songs with popular music directors, including G. Devarajan, V. Dakshinamoorthy, M. S. Baburaj, Raveendran, M. K. Arjunan, K. Raghavan, Shyam, Johnson, M. G. Radhakrishnan, S. P. Venkatesh, Ouseppachan, and Vidhyadharan.


Awards from State / Central Governments

O. N. V. has won two major awards from the Kerala State and two from the Indian government.

National Film Awards

Kerala State Film Awards

He won the Kerala State film awards for the Best Lyricist thirteen times:

Asianet Film Awards

Other awards and recognition

  • 1981 – Soviet Land Nehru Award for Uppu (A noted poetic work of Dr. Kurup)
  • 1982 – Vayalar Rama Varma Award for Uppu
  • 2007 – Honorary Doctorate (honoris causa) by University of Kerala
  • 2008 – Ezhuthachan Award
  • 2009 – Ramashramam Trust Award

Positions Held

ONV has served and headed various office of state and central government organisations. Notably:

  1. Executive Member, Executive Board of the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi from 1982-86.
  2. Chairman, Kerala Kalamandalam – the State Akademi of Classical performing Arts(1996).
  3. Fellow of the Kerala Sahitya Academy in 1999.

He also has been the part of various delegation at international events. Some of the notable among them being:

  1. Visited USSR as member of an Indian Writers Delegation to participate in the 150th birth anniversary of Leo Tolstoy.
  2. Represented India in the Struga Poetry Evenings, Yugoslavia (1987)
  3. Attended CISAC Asian Conference in Singapore(1990).
  4. Visited USA to participate in FOKANA Conference(1993).
  5. Visited USA to inaugurate literary seminar in Kerala Centre, New York (1995).
  6. Presented poems on Beethoven and Mozart in the Department of German, University of Bonn.
  7. Indian delegate to the CISAC World Conference held in Berlin (1998).


Love was the central theme of his poems and the several lyrics he wrote for films. While remaining a humanist poet, he never disassociated from the Leftist ideals in which he had deep faith. Entering the poetic world through the pro-Communist theatre movement,O N V had written scores of songs for dramas, especially for the Kerala Peoples’ Arts Centre (KPAC), which are still on the tongues of the Malayalis. Along with distinguished lyricists like Vayalar Ramavarma and P Bhaskaran, O N V was one of the leading poets who could inspire a generation to lean to the Left through revolutionary songs with a romantic tinge.

O N V’s portrayal of nature has an extraordinary charm with which he lured readers into the core of his work. And when nature faced threats, he came out with a dirge for earth `Bhoomikoru Charamageetham’ (Lament for the Earth). O N V is the fifth recipient of the country’s highest literary honour for Malayalam language, after G Sankara Kurup, S K Pottekkat, Thakazhi Shivashankara Pillai and M T Vasudevan Nair. He is the second among Malayalam poet to receive the honour after the first-ever Jnanpith was awarded to the late G Sankara Kurup.

“I consider this as an honour for Malayalam poetry. I truly believe that Malayalam poetry does not lag behind poetry in any other language and I accept this honour recalling the invaluable contributions from the illustrious pioneers of Malayalam literature,” O N V, who is on a tour of the Gulf, said on hearing the news. Sharing the elation of the literary fraternity, Jnanpith laureate M T Vasudevan Nair said this was a moment of great joy for entire Kerala. “O N V has been writing poetry for over six decades. He still retains the poetic flair in his mind without losing its vibrancy,” Nair said. State Culture Minister M A Baby said he considered this as an honour for entire Keralites as O N V continues to be the `beloved poet’ of Malayalees.

Listen ONV’s poems




Akhlaq Mohammed Khan ‘Shahryar’

(Jnanpith , 2008)

Dr. Akhlaq Mohammed Khan ‘Shahryar’ is an Indian academician, and a doyen of Urdu poetry in India, as a lyricist in Hindi films, he is most noted for his lyrics in films, Gaman (1978), Umrao Jaan (1981) and Anjuman (hindi film) (1986), by Muzaffar Ali, he writes under his pen name ‘Shahryar’.

He was awarded the 1987 Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu for his poetry collection, Khwab Ka Dar Band Hai(1987)

He remained a professor of Urdu at Aligarh Muslim University, and in 1996, retired as chairman of the Urdu Department at the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, where he stays now



Early life and education

Akhlaq Mohammed Khan was born on 16 June 1936, at village Anwalla, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh in a Muslim Rajput family. He received his early education at Bulandshahr and later studied at Aligarh Muslim University.



He started his career as a literary assistant at Anjuman Tarraqqi-e-Urdu, there after he joined Aligarh Muslim University as a lecturer in Urdu, he was appointed professor in 1986, and in 1996, he retired as chairman of the Urdu Department at the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, where he now lives and devotes his time entirely to poetry, and also co-edits the literary magazine "Sher-o-Hikmat" (Poetry and Philosophy),.


His first poetry collection Ism-e-azam was published in 1965, the second collection, Satvan dar (Satva yet in English), came in 1969, the third collection titled Hijr ke mausam was released in 1978, his most celebrated work, Khwab Ke dar band hain, came in 1987, and also won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu for the year. He has also published five collections of his poetry in devnagari script.

  • Ism-e-azam, 1965.
  • Satvan dar, 1969.
  • Hijr ke mausam, 1978.
  • Khwab Ke dar band Hain, 1987.
  • Neend ki Kirchen – (English: Neend That Churches) .
  • Through the Closed Doorway: A Collection of Nazms by Shahryar, tr. Rakhshanda Jalil. 2004, Rupa & Co., ISBN 812910458X.
  • Shahryar, Akhlaq Mohmmad Khan : Influence of the western criticism on the Urdu criticism, Aligarh.
  • Dhud ki Roshni (English: Dhud of Roshni): Selected Poems of Shahryar, 2003, Sahitya Akademi, ISBN 8126016159.

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