Ramaswamy Krishnamurthy, also known as
Krishnamurthy, was a renowned writer, critic, poet, journalist, and Indian independence activist who predominantly used to write in the Tamil language. He was born on 9 September 1899 in a Brahmin family in Puthamangalam village, near Manalmedu, in Mayiladuthurai district of Tamil Nadu state. His father’s name was Ramaswamy Aiyar, who was an accountant in the village of Puttamangalam in the old district of Tanjore during the erstwhile Madras Presidency. Ramaswamy completed his primary education in his village school and later studied at the Municipal High School in Mayavaram.
He left his school in 1921, when he was on the verge of completing his Senior School Leaving Certificate, to support Mahatma Gandhi and his non-co-operation movement. Then, he decided to join the Indian National Congress to fight for India’s struggle for Independence. He got married to Rukmani Krishnamurthy, and they had two children, Kalki Rajendran and Anandi. His son Kalki Rajendran got married to Sadasivam's daughter Vijaya. His daughter Anandi got married to Sadasivam's nephew named Ramachandran, who was known as Ambi in the music industry.
Krishnamurthy started his writing journey by writing fictional stories in 1923 in Navaskthi, where he was working as a sub-editor. He was working under the guidance of Guru Thiru Vi Ka when he decided to publish his first book in 1927. Thereafter, he started working with C Rajagopalachari in Thiruchengode city of Tamil Nadu in Gandhi Ashram and published Vimochanam along with Rajaji. It was a journal emphasizing the ban on liquor prohibition. While he was fighting for India’s freedom struggle, he was jailed for six months in 1931.
Then, he joined Ananda Vikatan, which was a popular Tamil magazine, and worked along with an editor named S. S Vasan. This made him become a very popular critic, political commentator, witty author, and short story writer. He gave himself a pen name, ‘Kalki,’ which implies the future incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. Besides, he also wrote under various pen names, such as Ra. Ki, Karnatka, and Tamil Theni. After that, he left Ananda Vikatan to officially participate in India’s freedom struggle in 1941. When he was released, he started a weekly named Kalki along with T. Sadasivam.
Throughout his career, Krishnamurthy has written over one hundred twenty short stories, five novels, ten novellas, three historical romances, edited political writings, and hundreds of film and music reviews. Some of his historical works include Sivagamiyin Sapatham, Ponniyin Selvan, Parthiban Kanavu, Solaimalai Ilavarasi, Thyaga Bhoomi, Poiman Karadu, Vasdhadhu Venu, Imayamalai Engal Malai, Tiger King, Devagiyin Kanavan, Thirudan Magan Thirudan, Subhathraiyin Sagodharan, Parisil Thurai, Banker Vinayakarao and many other short stories and novels. Krishnamurthy also worked as a film and music critic and wrote under the pseudonym called Karnatkam. He wrote the lyrics for various Tamil songs, many of which were adapted into Carnatic Music.
For his outstanding contribution to the field of writing, he was honored with various awards and accolades. He was given the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani Award by The Indian Fine Arts Society in 1953. The Government of Tamil Nadu announced the nationalization of his writings to enable the publishers to produce reprints of his works. The government also released a postage stamp in honor of Krishnamurthy. Moreover, several veteran actors, including
, philanthropists, directors, and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. G. Ramachandran, have attempted to adapt Kalki’s famous novel, Ponniyin Selvan, into a film.
succeeded in his efforts and the first part of Ponniyin Selvan film was released on 30 September 2022, and the second part was released on 28 April 2023 as Ponniyin Selvan: II. Krishnamurthy passed away on 5 December, 1954 in Chennai at the age of 55 years while suffering from tuberculosis. He was working as an editor of the journal till his death, and Kalki magazine's special issue for Annai Sarada Devi was his last editorial work.