Kannan Nayar: Caught by colors

Kannan Nayar began acting at the age of twelve in a play at school. The colorful world of cinema captured his attention years later. While in college learning visual media, he started taking acting seriously. After his stint as assistant to cameraman Azhagappan for a number of films, he shifted his focus to acting. He went on to do more than 80 dramas and 40 short films and around 10 films including the internationally acclaimed ‘Sexy Durga’, which got the national attention albeit for the wrong reasons.

 “No one cared about the content of Sexy Durga”, says this actor with a pinch of disappointment. There is no vulgarity, nudity or violence in this movie, he puts forward. This movie is a representation of the current social structure. The film depicts the adversities faced by a couple while on a late night journey and draws attention to the double standards of our patriarchal society which worships the goddess Durga but misbehaves with the women around them.

When asked if he prefers alternate cinema, he replies “Oh no, not so specific. I have found my space there for now”. He understands very clearly the importance and reach of mainstream cinema and does hope to cut his niche there too. He has been a part of three mainstream movies including Abhasam and Lilly, set to release early in 2018. As an actor he feels there should be no differentiation on the type or genre of cinema. Mainstream or alternate, it is all about the character you portray and how you act it out. He states that theatre is his first love and believes his passion for acting stems from his wish to become someone else, to be the voice of another.

He was a part of the ‘Kazhcha Indie Film Festival’ that exhibited 14 films alongside the IFFK’17. He doesn’t consider KIFF as a rebel film festival, but as a corrective force to IFFK. “IFFK is how all of us understood and knew world cinema, but currently it feels like IFFK is deviating from its established paths and interests and we hope to put forward KIFF as a reminder; Just look at KIFF as an added screen to IFFK”. When asked about future plans, he says, “Acting and more acting”, and we hope to see more of him soon!

Compiled by Anushree Udayakumar, Akash Kaimal

Photographs by Kannan Nayar

A subtle act!

Born and brought up in a family inclined and involved in various art forms, Janaki Nair was initiated into the mesmerizing world of arts at a very early. Years later, she dedicates winning the State Television Award for Best Actress to her family and teachers who helped her evolve.

For 15 years she learned under Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboothiri and practiced Kathakali. She was noted for her portrayal of male characters on stage. “It’s always a challenge, the sound, the body language and even the weight of the dress changes when portraying a male character. You have to become everything that you are not”, says this award winning actress. Her training in Kathakali, Kalaripayattu and Yoga helped her while shooting for the short film ‘River Life’ in which she essayed the character ‘Jyothi’, an environmentalist/artiste. Do not mistake her as only an actress/dancer. She was also the creative head of this film and was involved in the creation of a number of scenes and had her part in choreography as well.

After finishing her graduation in videography from Mar Ivanios college and post graduation in media and public relations from Newcastle University in UK, she joined the South Essex College as public relations deputy manager and went on to pursue a doctoral degree in semiotic communication. “I heeded to my father’s advice of not to compromise on my academics and balance both career and arts”. When asked about future plans she replies with a smile, “Oh, Plenty!”

Words by Akash Kaimal
Photographs&Retouch by Goutham Narayanan

Close shot with Balan Madhavan

Balan Madhavan

Everyone has their own bucket list – a bunch they would like to do, if and when. Touching down the poles is one such that many would have on their list, but few realize that dream. Balan Madhavan, ace photographer and active conservationist, speaks about the thrills of his Antarctican expedition, the journey of a lifetime.

Balan Madhavan’s profile is well known in the photographic world. He was a banker, who turned into a wedding photographer to meet the expenses of his hobby. He remembers the struggles of the 80s and 90s, when photography was an expensive hobby and an almost impossible profession. His banking profession wouldn’t meet the costs of rolls, so he was forced to work as a wedding photographer. But the meagre space for creativity in wedding photography took him to the world of advertising. He has much to his credit in the form of catalogues and brochures for corporates and his brilliant work on the landscape of Kerala has aided in gaining the tag of ‘God’s Own Country’. Impressed by his work for Kerala tourism, he was hired by Karnataka government to boost their tourist industry. He is known for his active role in nature conservation process in association with international organisations such as the IUCN.

His passion for photography began at home, where his father would go on photo tours and develop films at home in a self-made dark room. And the passion took him far and long, up to the South Pole, where only a handful of human kind has ever set their foot. He cites the expedition as the most exciting journey of his life and reminisces the yearlong preparation and hurdles. It was part of his bucket list for about 10 years and when he finally decided to act on it, everything fell into place albeit not without immense effort. Through his research he found that only Scandinavian countries offer expedition packages to Antarctica. He wrote to a tour company and got in touch with their office in Chennai. After much hassle and quite some greying of his hair he managed the trip with 10 fellow travellers from Kerala. The team reached Santiago in Chile via flight. Then, a team of 300 boarded the ship to the southernmost point of South America. It was a journey that required skilled steering. From there the journey was tumultuous, travelling in all three axis. They had to lie down or they would throw up.

After the voyage, they spent 7 days in Antarctica. Senior citizens from Germany who returned right after their first landing, having fulfilled their dream to set foot in the seventh continent. Was the cold intolerable? Initially yes, he says. But soon they overcame their fear of the cold and jumped into the polar sea! The range of vision and clarity there was incredible, he reminisces. They could see a 100 km at one stretch, and most of the time unable to discern distance or size. They even saw ice bergs the size of Trivandrum city! The patterns over the floating ice were surreal – one would realize there is no better craftsman than nature. The experience of travelling with whales added to the adventure and increased the scope of frames. The most amusing experience was the 5-minute sunrise. Every ice crystal became golden. On one side everything was golden, and on the other everything was blue. It looked as though everything was painted in liquid gold. It was the most profound experience of his life.

Next on his wanderlust is Arctic and the Amazon. But prior to that he plans to obtain a diving license to become India’s first underwater photographer. He is excited about the possibility of underwater expedition, especially in the coast of Sri  Lanka. Much to learn from this man who knows no stops when it comes to travel and frames.

Compiled by Indu S Nair, Gautham S
Photographs by Balan Madhavan

Wheels and Wings: The Trip Couple

Riya and Sanjay’s tale of romance would seem cliché at first. They were childhood friends who fell in love and tied the knot. They romanced over long distance as Sanjay was in the US and Riya worked in Chennai. Travelling was scant in those years, they remark. Their determination convinced their parents and their story ended in a big and beautiful wedding as usual, but that wasn’t ‘the end’.

Married life, with all its beauty, is also an excuse for many; an end to the dreams they once held dear. Responsibility and lack of time are often cited to shelf long cherished plans. But for these two, tying the knot meant realization of plans and dreams.

After the wedding in May 2015, the couple reached US by December and started their life. The long years across seven seas posed a huge obstacle to their passion to travel together. Once they reached US, they set out right away. Weekends were spent traveling to nearby sites and stories were shared online. Slowly their friends and family started demanding the next post and details of their journeys. That’s when they realized they could converse with their friends through travel stories.

Soon Riya joined for a management course at the Metropolitan College of New York and Sanjay continued working. But they continued to travel on weekends. Riya does the research and plans the next destination, while Sanjay curates videos for their vlog. As they gathered more subscriptions, they invested in a good camera to provide quality content to their followers. A typical trip plan would begin on the Thursday of each week. By Friday evening they finalize the destination, and will travel and capture images and videos throughout Saturday and Sunday. Back to classes and work on Monday; Sanjay begins editing on Tuesday.

You can catch them at “Kantha Njaanum Varam (Trip Couple)”, YouTube channel and Facebook page of the same name. They have already covered Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. The videos are made in Malayalam and are shot and edited by Sanjay. These 26 year old travel enthusiasts hope to go on a world tour one day!

The King’s Chef

In 2010, when the President and First lady of the United States visited India, we stopped at nothing to make the visit perfect. And indeed, it appeared nothing less than pleasant – Michelle even played hopscotch and danced with children in Mumbai. The state dinner held in the sprawling lawns of Rashtrapathi Bhavan was obviously a grand affair, all hospitality giants in the country had lined up in the rehearsal to get a chance to impress the most powerful leader and his consort. For the majestic spread, a special order was placed by the then President Dr. Pratibha Patil to her beloved ‘Baba’, the cooking consultant of Rashtrapathi Bhavan. The ‘Baba’ was asked to prepare ‘Puran Boli’ and ‘Pineapple Halwa’, two of his masterpieces. This and many other tales of excellence mark the long and illustrious career of Mr. Ramachandra Iyer, or ‘Baba’ for the erstwhile President, hailing from West Fort, Trivandrum.

Born and raised in a humble background, Mr. Iyer had to abandon his education before matriculation and venture into a number of odd jobs. Later, he joined the KTDC following the lineage of his uncle Haripad Venkatachala Iyer, who was chef to His Highness Chithira Thirunal Maharaja. Iyer’s long and eventful association with the Mascot hotel and KTDC earned him the name ‘Mascot Mani’. The evening cafe at Mascot hotel, started in 1976 is credited as his initiative. While at the KTDC, he kicked start the tradition of ‘Payasam Mela’ held annually at KTDC hotels during Onam. This, according to him, was a turn in his career, for he was given singular responsibility of the first Payasam Mela. The legacy continues to this day, much to the pride of ‘Mascot Mani’.

He began dazzling national and international leaders with his culinary magic early in 2007. After he catered to Dr Pratibha Patil during her Presidential visit to Thiruvananthapuram, the respectable President asked the cook to be sent to Delhi. Mr. Iyer along with his wife Lalitha went to Delhi on deputation and worked there for 4 years. From the Rashtrapathi Bhavan in Delhi, he travelled to many countries following invitations and his skills have been widely appreciated. He has concocted two famous payasams – the “Ananthapuri Palpayasam”, which offers stiff competition to the famed “Ambalapuzha Palpayasam”, and the much renowned “Navarasa Payasam” that holds nine rasas or tastes in one. This modern day ‘Nala’ who gives all credit to ‘Padmanabha Swamy’, the  guardian deity of Thiruvananthapuram is now back in his home near Westfort. Here, at West Nada he runs payasam stall “Mookambika” where his lip smacking good sweets and payasams are available. His three children Rajkumar, Jayakumar and Nagarajan continue in the field of their father and assist him from time to time.

 

Indroyal will touch down on Northern Kerala soon: N Madhusoodhanan

N Madhusoodhanan, Director of Indroyal furnitures, the leading furniture group, was born in Kallara near Thiruvananthapuram in 1947, and is quite a proud Trivandramite. He grew up from his humble backgrounds to attain a diploma in Civil Engineering field. After his work in grand old Bombay and migration to Dubai, by the end of 1987, home called him back. Starting from there on the New Year’s Eve, he reached back on 1st January 1988. Though the company ownership lies within the family and not on him, he was chosen to lead the Indroyal group that now has it business interests in furniture, properties, hotel and hospitality. His vision and leadership qualities placed him at the head of a few educational institutions as well.

How well do you follow lifestyle magazines?
Being frank, surprisingly less for the head of a leading furniture company. Our designs are top notch and for that we have a team but personally I’m not much aware of day to day lifestyle matters. I’m a general reader who is fascinated by many authors including Gandhi or Marx and that helped me not to judge people based on anything other than their quality. I always have my own perspectives.

Are you interested in movies?
Not so much. Even though I enjoy watching one, the key issue is my lack of time. I work for about 12-14 hours a day, every day and even to 15 hours sometimes making it really hard for me to accommodate time for movies.

How is the current state of furniture business?
When we started, we were the only company that provides imported furniture. At that time people were more concerned about the economics behind furniture. Most of them wanted single piece of furniture than a full set. Things have changed and the outlook of people as well. Now orders are placed for multiple sets together and people are more aware as well. Competition is healthy and strong but we have our uniqueness to rely on. We have our own factories where we gather high quality wood and season it under our supervision to make the frames and also the foam that is used by us is produced in our own factories. This enables us to check the quality of our products and to make it cost effective.

How did GST affect the business?
Currently I must say that it won’t have much impact to the final outcome of our business. But a few changes have occurred. For example, before the advent of GST which is at 28% and paid while the good is transported to the point of sale, service tax and VAT were paid after the selling of the final product. So currently, tax is paid in advance of causing that money to be blocked until the product is sold which might take 2 or 3 months.

But I believe at the same time GST will act as an agent to level the market competition as this industry is having unorganized sellers in majority. Prior to GST, they could sell their products in a lesser margin as they didn’t have to pay the taxes but we couldn’t do the same as we had to factor in the taxes to be paid. That cannot be continued anymore.

How interested are you in travel?
I only travel to meet the necessities and not beyond that. Basically I’m very busy and never had much time to take a vacation. But I’ve been to the Middle East and many other places as well, but mostly for business.

Future plan for the company?
We are planning to expand into Northern Kerala which is more of an untapped area and also to bring in other segments of furniture that we do not currently sell. Also we have a pipeline project that might be placed in Trivandrum.

Tiling it up

Nazeemudeen, Chairman of Naveen Granite and Tiles, was born in Kattakada, a prominent town in Trivandrum, on 18th August 1975. After completing his schooling, he went onto complete his pre-degree and graduation from Mar Ivanios College, Trivandrum. The entry into business field happened soon after his graduation, when he and his brother started a paint and sanitary ware shop in his hometown in 1997. It was in 2010 that he opened his independent business venture ‘Naveen Granites and Tiles’ at Kattakada. Two more showrooms were opened at Venjaramood and Vellayambalam later. With a wide variety of products including imported ones which tops in quality and design, his company is one the leading dealers in Kerala.

Competition?

When I started there weren’t many showrooms in Kattakada. But now I can boldly say that Kattakada has become a ‘ceramic city’. The reason is that labor cost is less when compared to other places and this is the reason I decided to keep my centralized showroom there itself. We can open showrooms anywhere; however we need to cut down factors such as labor costs to serve people at competitive rates. Competition is definitely there, but we are offering products at good rates and so our business is doing well.

You started independent business in 2010. 7 years have gone by. What has changed?

Earlier, people were just bothered about the product and price. Now they are very much concerned about the design and quality. Even the dimensions and colors of tiles have changed drastically. We offer imported products from countries like Belgium and China. Our showroom features products for common people as well as premium class. However, everyone is willing to buy premium products; that’s the major change. People are concerned about the design and quality of products, price doesn’t matter anymore.

Effect of GST on business?

GST is welcoming. The major highlight of GST is that tax across the country has now been unified. So the products will be priced the same everywhere, the difference will just be in the case of transportation charge. The price may go high, but it won’t affect our business. The only issue is in the case of old stock, still government hasn’t issued a clear view on it.

Into event management?

I’ve started an event management company called DNA Creatives Global along with 3 of my friends, which functions here and in the UAE. We’d conducted an event last Onam in association with Janam TV. For the past two years, we’ve been conducting an event for the inmates of several old age homes and orphanages in Trivandrum on New Year’s Eve. The event features programmes by renowned artists and a delicious lunch. I make it a point to attend the function with my family. It’s a delightful feeling and we plan to make it even bigger this year.

New business plans?

Our new plan is to install LED lights across Kerala as a replacement for sodium vapor lamps and tubes. This will really help in reducing the energy consumption and will save lakhs of rupees for the corporation. Installing it all over Kerala will be a boon to government and people. I’ve already submitted the proposal to government.

About family?

My wife Sapna is a homemaker. My elder daughter Nazrin Amina studies in 11th standard in Christ Nagar School and younger one Nabiya Fathima in 5th standard. I love spending my free time with them.

 

Favorites:

Color – White

Car – Jaguar

Brand – CD Shirts

Watch – Tissot, Rado

Perfume – Calvin Klein

Dish – Anything in Mutton

Destination – Dubai

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