Kunjan Nambiar was a great poet and story teller of Kerala. He was a disciple of one great story teller called Pothiyil Rama chakyar. Pothiyil used to be an expert in the art form called Chakyar Koothu in Kerala. In this the story teller would come to the stage and tell us a story illustrated by Sanskrit slokas. They were also licensed to tease the audience and even the king. Pothiyil Rama chakyar one day teased Kunjan Nambiar too much. This irritated Kunjan Nambiar. So at the same time when Pothiyil Rama chakyar was presenting a story, at a near by stage Kunjan Nambiar introduced a new art form called –Ottan thullal. Literally translated it means jumping while running. A new genre of poem in Malayalam was written by Kunjan and since he used simple Malayalam words, he could easily draw away the complete audience of the Chakyars. There are many stories of wit about Kunjan Nambiar (Kunjan for short) prevalent in Kerala. I am giving below a few of them:-
The packet of Khus khus.
It seems n the debut day; he brought a packet of Khus Khus and showed it to the audience. Packet is called pothi in Malayalam and Khus khus is called Ramacham. He opened the packet in front of the audience saying “Pothiyil Ramacha akki yar?”
Meaning “who put the kuhs khus in the packet as well as teasing his rival whose name was the same thing.
Once Kunjan was attending a function in which the lamp pillar (deepa Sthambam) was being inaugurated by the king. The king naturally wanted all the poets to sing about his Deepa Sthambam. He gave them lot of money for each poem. Kunjan Nambiar was reluctant and when he was forced to do it, he sang
Deepa Sthambam mahascharyam,
Namukkum kittanam panam,
The lamp pillar is greatly wonderful,
I also should get the money.
The king realized his mistake and carved the pardon of this great poet,
The king’s boarding house
Kunjan Nambiar being poor was eating from the free boarding house (called Ootu puraii in Malayalam) maintained by the king. The managers and servants there were giving sub standard food after stealing the money granted by the king. One day Kunjan and the king were walking on the main road. Suddenly they saw a cow having watery motion. Kunjan rushed near the cow and enquired “Are you also eating in the king’s Ootu puraii?”
The king who heard this made enquiries and dismissed the corrupt officials and set right the Oottu puraii.
Who is more pretty?
One day Kunjan Nambiar was taking a morning walk along with his friend. The queen and her maid were going for bathing in the temple tank.
The friend of Kunjan asked him, “Nalla Thali (good shampoo)”
And Kunjan replied “Kathilola (Studs in the ears.”
Actually they were using their mastery in Sanskrit to enjoy themselves.
What the friend asked was “Ka athi lola?(who is more pretty) and what Kunjan replied was
Nallathu AAli(the maid is better.)