Many voices from the Malayalam film industry had questioned the jury’s decision to give the award to Vairamuthu, who has been accused of sexual harassment by many women.

Tamil Lyricist Vairamuthu, who has been awarded the ONV Literary award, looking into the camera
news ONV Literacy Award Friday, May 28, 2021 - 11:54

The ONV Cultural Academy, which had earlier decided to give this year’s ONV Kurup literary award to poet-lyricist Vairamuthu, has said that it will re-examine the decision. The Academy’s decision to give the award, instituted in the name of Jnanpith-award winning poet ONV Kurup, to the controversial lyricist, who has been accused of sexual harassment by many women, was criticised massively. The decision to reconsider giving the award to Vairamuthu was made on the advice of the jury, said a statement released by the academy on May 28.

In a statement issued on May 28, ONV Cultural Academy chairman and renowned Malayalam movie director Adoor Goaplakrishan said that they will reconsider the decision. “At the instance of the selection committee, the award is now under reconsideration,” the statement said. The decision of the academy to give Vairamuthu the award was announced on May 26, and had been criticised, with many publicly opposing the decision. Earlier, Adoor Gopalakrishnan had backed Vairamuthu, stating that 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.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is the Chief Patron of the Academy. Well-known writer MT Vasudevan Nair and singer KJ Yesudas are the patrons. It came as a shock for many that the Academy, which many well-known personalities are part of, decided to give the award to Vairamuthu. Many voices from the Malayalam film industry, who are members of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) had questioned the jury’s decision to confer the award on the poet who has faced a slew of allegations of sexual harassment from many women, including singer Chinmayi. 

The Tamil poet-lyricist Vairamuthu, who has been accused of sexual harassment by many women had been chosen for the fifth ONV Literary Prize. The award, which is given to poets from Malayalam and other Indian languages by the ONV Cultural Academy here, comprises a cash prize of Rs 3,00,000 and citation. The award this time was decided by a jury consisting of poet Prabha Varma, Malayalam University Vice-Chancellor Anil Vallathol and writer Alankode Leelakrishnan. The academy is headed by filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan. The patrons include Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, MT Vasudevan Nair and KJ Yesudas, and many other distinguished personalities like MA Baby, Prabha Varma, RS Babu, MK Muneer and Benoy Viswam are part of the Academy.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin had also stirred up a row after he shared a picture with Vairamuthu congratulating him over the award.