Kochi: Noted poet-actor Balachandran Chullikkad, disgruntled over the way he was treated by Sahitya Akademi at the International Literature Festival it organised in Thrissur, let his dissatisfaction with the entity go public.
He didn’t mince his words as he slammed the Akademy for its lack of courtesy towards artists. It was CICC Jayachandran, a close friend of the poet, who wrote about the incident in a Facebook post quoting Chullikkad. The note ends with an appeal not to bother him any more with any cultural functions.
After the post went viral, State Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cheriyan said he had apologised to the poet personally.
“It was on January 30 that I realised the actual value that the people of Kerala placed on me. The Kerala Sahitya Akademi had invited me to speak on Kumaran Aasan’s ‘Karunakavyam’ at a session at the International Literature Festival. I reached the venue on time and spoke about the subject for over two hours. I tried to express whatever I had learned from my efforts to understand the nuances of Asan’s poetry for the last five decades. I received an honorarium of Rs 2,400 for speaking at this session. My expense that day was Rs 3,500 including the cab fare from Ernakulam to Thrissur and other charges for the driver. I paid the remaining Rs 1,100 out of the remuneration that I had earned from acting in television serials.
“Dear enlightened Keralites, I have never been a member of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi. Nor have I bowed before any ministers to receive an award or a special recognition. I vow that I will never do any such thing. Keralites are willing to pay hefty sums to singers and mimicry artists. I am grateful (to you) for making me understand my real value through your Sahitya Akademi. I just have one request! Please do not bother me any more to fulfil your artistic or cultural needs. Do not rob any more time from my life. I have other things to do,” the post read.
An Akademi official later clarified that it was clerical oversight that the government entity would reimburse the poet his travel expense.