Award Winner – Attoor Ravivarma

The Debut Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award



Attoor Ravivarma

Eminent Malayalam poet and translator Attoor Ravi Varma has been named the winner of the debut Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award. The award for 2015 was decided by an eminent six-member jury that included writer, publisher and Jaipur Literary Festival co-Director Namita Gokhale, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi, writer and Creative Director of ILF Samanvay Rizio Yohannan Raj, IHC Programmes Director Vidyun Singh, NBT Director and writer Rita Choudhury, and writer-scholar Rita Kothari.

The Jury selected Attoor Ravi Varma for the award worth INR 1,00,000 (Rupees One lakh) after a detailed process that included a nomination stage and an evaluation stage. The criteria considered were the following:

  • Impact of the translator’s work on the target language
  • Critical acclaim received and the quality of translation
  • Sustained contribution and the duration of engagement in the field of translation
  • Motivation of the translator and the contemporary and political relevance of the work
  • The volume of work and contribution

Announcing Attoor Ravi Varma as the winner of Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award 2015, the Director of India Habitat Centre, Rakesh Kacker, and the Chairman of Vani Foundation, Arun Maheshwari said in a joint statement:

“We are delighted that this significant award has come to become a reality in a very short period. The addition of this award to the IHC’s and Vani Foundation’s range of activities in the context of ILF Samanvay will help enrich our respective organisations as well as the festival and its institutional mission.  The award is committed to celebrate Indian translators who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to not only translating between two languages, but also bridging two cultures. We feel privileged to bestow this honour on Attoor Ravi Varma, the recipient of the first Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award, and extend our heartiest congratulations to him.” 

Responding to the award announcement, Attoor Ravi Varma, 84, said that he was very happy for having been selected for the first Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award. He expressed his willingness to personally come and receive the award. The award ceremony is scheduled between 6pm and 7pm on Saturday the 28th of November at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Maruvili, poet and script writer Anvar Ali’s film on Attoor will be screened at ILF Samanvay on 29th Nov.


From among the eleven nominated translators, Attoor Ravi Varma, Pratibha Dave and Lakshmi Holmstrom emerged as the first three names vis-à-vis the criteria considered.

Speaking of Attoor’s work, Rizio Yohannan Raj, Jury Member representing the Southern region and Creative Director of ILF Samanvay said:

Attoor is one of the pioneers of modern Malayalam poetry, and is renowned for his pithy style that matches the intensity of his thought. Though he is well recognised as a poet, the consistent contribution he has been making to facilitate profound cultural exchanges between Tamil and Malayalam through his translations of works ranging from Tamil Sangham poets to young Tamil writers of today has not yet been quite known to the world, despite the awards that he has got from the Kerala Sahitya Akademi and the Kendra Sahitya Akademi. His remarkable felicity, versatility and sensitivity in dealing at once with ancient love poetry and radical contemporary voices in fiction, on the one hand, and the political relevance of his choices in translation on the other have made him emerge as a natural claimant of this Award. We are delighted that the first Vani-Samanvay award has a recipient of Attoor Ravi Varma’s standing and calibre. We hope the institution of this award will encourage more and more translators to work directly between Indian languages without the mediation of English or Hindi, thus contributing to the creation of an organic culturescape in the

Attoor’s major translations from Tamil to Malayalam are:

  • J. Chila Kurippukal (Sundara Ramaswami, Novel)
  • Oru Pulimarathinte Katha (Sundara Ramaswami, Novel)
  • Nale Mattoru Nal Mathram (G.Nagarajan, Novel)
  • Randaamyaamangalutekatha (Sama, Novel)
  • Puthunaanooru (Poems of 59 Modern poets)
  • Bhakti Kavyam (Translation of Nayanars and Azhvars)

The following eleven nominations made it to the long list:

  1. Attoor Ravi Varma (Tamil-Malayalam) 
  2. Basudev Das (Ahomiya-Bangla)
  3. Hundraj Balwani (Sindhi-Gujarati)
  4. Jerry Pinto (Marathi-English)
  5. Lakshmi Holmstrom (Tamil-English)
  6. Monalisa Jena (Ahomiya-Odiya)
  7. Nishan Singh (Hindi-Manipuri)
  8. Pratibha Dave (Marathi-Gujarati)
  9. Ram Shankar Dwivedi (Bangla-Hindi)
  10. Santhosh Alex (Malayalam-Hindi)
  11. Sushant Jha (English-Hindi)