Mathukutty J Kunnappally: The Guiding Spirit Departs

Mathukutty J Kunnappally


Thiruvananthapuram: Renowned journalist, biographer, travel writer and founder of Destination Kerala business magazine, Mathukutty J Kunnappally, who died on December 26 after prolonged illness, had a scintillating career as a writer and journalist spanning almost four decades.

Through his innumerable and informative articles on a variety of subjects published in Malayalam dailies like Deepika, Kerala Kaumudi and Janayugom, and periodicals, including Kerala Sabdam, Kumkumam, Malayala Manorama Weekly, Chitrabhoomi, Grihalakshmi and Nana, he literally carved out a niche for himself in the fields of literature and journalism in Malayalam, endearing himself to a vast segment of readers with his lucid style of writing. He also published 37 books, in both Malayalam and English, covering genres like travel writing, biography, sports and world literature. A winner of the State Television Award for his review column on TV programmes in 1991 and 1993, Kunnappally was also a two-time member of the State Television Awards Jury.


Kunnappally’s penchant for art and literature dates back to his childhood. When some 60 years ago, Kunnappally, who was in his teens, entered the world of creativity with much elan, the then head of Changanassery archdiocese, Dr. Mathew Kaavukaattu, whispered in his ear: “May you grow up to become an accomplished writer.” The occasion was the finale of a youth festival organised by the Catholic Church. Those words were a real motivation for the creative writer in young Kunnappally. He started penning stories for the children’s pages of a magazine named ‘Satyadeepam’ almost the same time. Later, he began contributing articles to ‘Deepika’ which he continued for nearly 25 years. He then widened his readership by associating with Mathrubhumi Group, Kerala Kaumudi, Kerala Shabdam Group, Janayugam and many other periodicals.

Born to K C Joseph and Aleyamma of Kanjirappally as the seventh child, Kunnappally, after completing his schooling, left for Bombay, where his elder brother K J Jacob was working, in the early 1960s. He joined Bandra National College from where he passed out with a BSc degree. During his college days, his flair for writing and extempore speaking earned him membership in the Bombay University’s Youth Welfare Board alongside Amjad Khan, who later went on to become a famous actor of Bollywood.

Afterwards, he landed a job with American pharmaceutical major, Pfizer, as its representative in Ernakulam. However, his passion for writing and literature brought him back to the editor’s panel of Deepika after three years.
On getting married to Aleyamma in 1975, who at that time was working in Libya, Kunnappally also moved to that country along with her. He penned the famous travelogue Valakkayam Muthal Tripoli Vare based on his journeys in India and Libya. On his return to India in 1982, Kunnappally worked as a freelancer till 1994. Besides remaining a content contributor for DC Books and Current Publications, he also penned biographies of K J Yesudas, actor Satyan, Bollywood actor Raj Kapoor, Hollywood actor Marlon Brando, singer Lata Mangeshkar and Saint Alphonsa of Bharananganam.

After serving as the editor of Travel Market India magazine promoted by ATE Group for three years, Kunnappally launched Destination Kerala in 1997.