KOCHI: Sajil Sreedhar is on a high. The journalist and prolific biographer’s latest work ‘Athikayan’ documenting the life of eminent industrialist K P Paul, has just been conferred the S K Pottekatt award. Sajil, who has penned several other biographies including industrialists Kochouseph Chittilappilly and Isaac Kottukappilly, actor Thilakan and M T Vasudevan Nair, said ‘Athikayan’ was his most ambitious undertaking, with a lot of painstaking research involved.
Sajil, who received applause from no less than literary critic and biographer M K Sanu, who was all praise for the book’s structure and literary style, spoke on why he focused on biographies - “Besides there being a need for biographies of people who have played a great role in making the state what it is today, there is a section of readers who are moving away from fictional writing, towards stories of real people. It is perhaps because they do not have a role model they can really look up to, since they are surrounded by stories of corruption everywhere,” he says. What makes individuals like K P Paul worthy of emulating, Sajil, is that they weren’t people who simply wanted to become rich no matter what. “While the story of how he started a venture with a capital of Rs 150 and turned it into a business with a turnover of Rs 3,000 crore is remarkable enough, what makes him unique is the fact that he held on to his integrity even as he became a successful industrialist, staying away from corrupt business practices and paying his taxes in time,” he adds.
The author and journalist, who also edits Mangalam weekly and Live in Style magazine, also notes the need for biographies in the language based on comprehensive research. For ‘Athikayan’, he says, he spoke to several of his associates and family members, getting their statements and verifying them, besides going through every available document related to his life. It took him more than two years of work, but it was worth it, he says.
Sajil burst on the scene with his biography of Vellappally Natesan, followed it up with books on Kochouseph Chittilappilly and Communist leader P S Sreenivasan, which won him the M K Sanu award.
But Sajil’s repertoire goes beyond writing and journalism. In the 90s, he had directed ‘Paliyathachan’ for Doordarshan, the first historical drama in Malayalam, which won him a National award for the best debutante director, besides several other documentaries on famous figures. And now, the author is preparing for the release of his first foray into fiction, with the novel ‘Vasavadatta’ based Kumaran Asan’s epic poem ‘Karuna’. The book will be released on May, he mentions.