For those of you who want to access the wonderfully rich world of Malayalam literature despite poor (or non-existent) reading skills in the language, a solution may be on hand.
A Thiruvananthapuram-based web portal will make available to the Malayali diaspora across the globe a little removed from their mother-tongue, audio versions of Malayalam books, dramas, poetry and novels.
“There are many people around the world, myself included, who can understand but probably cannot read Malayalam very well and yet want to be more familiar with its literature and culture,” says Sree Nakesh, founder and promoter of kathaparayumbol.com, which was launched on Sunday.
The web portal will have works of contemporary and classic Malayalam authors transcribed into audio format which can be downloaded for a nominal fee.
“This is a non-commercial venture where 30 percent of the revenue collected from a user goes to the District Cancer Centre Society, in kozhencherry,” says Sree Nakesh, who lost his wife to cancer several years ago. It is the trust formed in her name, Usha, which is sponsoring the portal, he adds.
Another 30 percent of the revenue will go to the author or the institution holding the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
“The remaining 40 percent is for upkeep and maintenance of the portal,” said Sree Nakesh, who has a team of ten working on the portal.
Already two books have their audio versions uploaded on to the portal, which has been in the pipeline for a year - ‘Nashta Nayika (The
lost heroine)’ by Vinu Abraham and ‘Kalakshepam’ by veteran journalist K Govindan Kutty, who is also editor of the portal.
“What we have done is to dramatise the book, hiring 18 people to lend voices to the 18 characters in the novel,” says Vinu, whose book tells the story of Rosy, Malayalam cinema’s first heroine and formed the basis for last year’s popular film ‘Celluloid’.
While the novels, poetry and dramas will have to be downloaded for a small fee, there will be group discussions on various topics by experts concerned and also learning material for students which are freely downloadable, says Sree Nakesh.
“We are getting teachers from various schools to explain concepts in subjects like Physics, Maths, Chemistry and Social Studies for all classes from kindergarten to class 12,” he says.
“There will also be question-answer format for each subject. This will be available for free download and will be uploaded on to the portal in two weeks,’’ he adds.
Presently, the team is working on former India Today editor P K Sreenivasan’s ‘Kodambakkam: Black and White’, which is a collection of real stories and memoirs from the Kodambakkam days of Malayalam cinema, with stories on doyens like Adoor Bhasi, K P Ummer, Prem Nazir, John Abraham and others.
“We are also looking to make a Malayalam to English dictionary, and also get the works of well-known authors like M T Vasudevan Nair,” says Sree Nakesh. “Ultimately, we’re hoping to make this an audio archive of Malayali literature and culture.”