Category Archives: Arts,Culture & Entertainment

City’s landmarks in sketches

Exhibition of sketches and paintings by T.C.Rajan ‘Reminisence of My City’ in Ganesam, Thycadu in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. | Photo Credit: S.GOPAKUMAR

ISRO official T. C. Rajan has put up 30 sketches of iconic buildings of the city

Sketches of some of the most iconic structures in the city attest to the State capital’s rich tradition and culture.

Artist T.C. Rajan has captured the beauty of many a landmark building in his sketches in Indian ink that are on display at an exhibition at Ganesam, Thycaud.

Padmanabhaswamy temple, Kuthiramalika, VJT hall, Napier Museum, Central station, Cliff House, LMS church, Kowdiar Palace…all of these come alive in Mr. Rajan’s works.

A senior project assistant (Accounts) at the Indian Space Research Organisation, Mr. Rajan has put up 30 sketches and 18 paintings at the exhibition, his 50th.

It took him almost an year to get the works ready. “I wanted to capture the beauty of different parts of the city. There are many changes happening, and I wanted the future generation to know how the city was.” he says.

Wherever he was denied access, he sketched using photographs. For instance, for the sketch of the Kowdiar Palace, he was presented with a photograph showing an overhead view of the palace, and drew it from that. For Kuthiramalika, he received special sanction and was able to sketch the structure.

Eighteen of his oil and acrylic works are also on display. These too capture the beauty of places such as Chirayinkeezhu, where often it gets obscured by filth. He says he is constantly experimenting.

The use of various colours to depict water in his painting of children on a beach come from years of experience, he says.

Director of the Kerala Chitrakala Parishad, he has also been conducting painting camps for Soorya for years.

A national basketball player, Mr. Rajan has been drawing since he was a child. On spotting his talent, his father used to take him to various exhibitions. Even when he was pursuing sports, he kept alive the connection with art. Though he never learnt painting formally, he learnt from taking part in various camps conducted by the Lalithakala Akademi and from interactions with artistes having different styles.

On of the most memorable moments in his life has been the portrait he presented to the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam when he came to ISRO. “He was not President then. He then wrote me a letter asking me to draw Veli and ISRO together. I drew that and presented it to him when he visited ISRO after becoming President. He then wrote me an appreciation letter for the work,” he says.

He recently drew a 6 ft portrait of Vikram Sarabhai that has been displayed at ISRO.

Mr. Rajan mostly paints landscape, his travels inspiring him to paint nature in all its glory. Contemporary issues such as problems faced by children also find expression in his works. “The challenge in such a work is to present it in such a way that viewers understand it, even if it is abstract,” he says.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by R.K. Roshni / Thiruvananthapuram – November 17th, 2017

A fitting tribute for a master playwright

Thiruvananthapuram:

The year-long birth centenary celebrations of renowned playwright and critic C J Thomas had an apt beginning in the capital city on Wednesday, with the city-based theatre group Natyagruham staging CJ’s masterpiece ‘Aa manushyan nee thanne’ (You are that man).

Natyagruham theatre group stages C J Thomas’s masterpiece ‘Aa manushyan nee thanne’ at VJT Hall in T’puram on Wednesday

The staging of CJ’s drama written in 1955 and depicting the sinful love between Biblical King David and Bathsheba, at the VJT Hall, also marked the 36th anniversary of city-based theatre group – ‘Natyagruham’ – which has promised a series of events for another year to celebrate CJ’s birth centenary.

Directed by S Sajanachandran and with Pradeep Ayiroopara as the art director, this most popular drama by CJ, which broke all conventional dramaturgy, was staged before an enlightened audience comprising both youngsters and those from older generations. Taking the theatre beyond realism, CJ had tried to satirize the vulgarity of human response to others’ sufferings through this work.

Time calls for reviving the writers and artists of yesteryears for whom the art remained a life-long passion, said Malayalam writer George Onakkoor, who inaugurated the launching event. “CJ was a miracle, both as a human being and as a playwright. He enriched the language, the society and culture during the short span of his life (CJ had died in 1960 at the age of 42),” said Onakkoor, who had also penned a biography on CJ – ‘Manalkaattinte Sabdam’ (The voice of sandstorm).

Besides elaborating on other works of CJ including ‘Avan veendum varunnu’ (1949) and ‘1128-il crime 27’ (1954) Onakkoor also remembered CJ as a man inspired by revolutionary ideas and recalled his great contributions to modern literary movements in the state. “With a prophetic voice, he traversed this world ahead of his time,” he said.

Natyagruham chairman Prof Aliyar, who presided over the ceremony, said CJ’s works had passed the test of time. “The drama ‘Aa manushyan nee thanne’, had been staged only on a few occasions in Thiruvananthapuram or elsewhere in the state. However, this masterpiece is still relevant to be staged for the contemporary audience,” he said. tnn

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / November 16th, 2017

Kritya International Poetry Festival begins

CM inaugrates Kritya International Poetry Festival on Thursday

Thiruvananthapuram:

Kerala stands out from other states in the country for its tradition, said poet and critic Ashok Vajpeyi. He was delivering the presidential address at the Kritya International Poetry Festival at Bharat Bhavan on Thursday.

“Kerala organizes international events like Biennale and short film and documentary festivals and here tradition, orthodoxy, innovation and boldness co-exist. It is important that the state maintains this tradition at a time when voices of dissent are being supressed,” said Vajpeyi, managing trustee, Raza Foundation.

Organized in association with Raza Foundation, New Delhi, the three-day festival was inaugurated by the CM. The eleventh edition of the festival pays tribute to late poet O N V Kurup.

Pinarayi Vijayan said that poetry was a torch during the dark ages. “Writers fall victim to religious fundamentalism even in this millennia. Secular values, scientific temper and rational thinking are threatened by communal forces and fascists. The attempt is to stifle dissenting voices, but we should reaffirm that we stand by secular values till our last breath. Progressive writers, poets and dramatists became the torch bearers of the great social and cultural renaissance of Kerala,” said Vijayan.

The function was attended by Turkish poet Ataol Behramoglu, Estonian poet Doris Kareva, managing director of Poetry International Rotterdam Bas Kwakman, poet Prabha Varma and member secretary of Bharat Bhavan Pramod Payyanur.

Poets from Estonia, Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, Mongolia, South Africa, Botswana, Belgium and Wales and Indian poets will recite their poems in the festival. The festival will conclude on November 11.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News>  Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / November 10th, 2017

Amid ruins stands the last king of Travancore

Chennai :

Conflict among Hindus, divided by caste, over the right to worship their preferred deity can be found all over modern Indian history. But at the height of Indian independence struggle,  the last Maharaja of Travancore,  Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama  Varma, stunned the rest of the country with a royal proclamation.

The decree, issued on November 12, 1936, removed restrictions on dalit entry to Hindu temples. The announcement had a profound impact on the Madras Presidency, where despite the efforts of Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar E V Ramasamy entry for dalits into temples was still not a reality.

Three years later, to commemorate the radical declaration, a statue of Chithira Thirunal was erected near Esplanade Road. Funded by public subscription, the statue was sculpted by M S Nagappa, then the official sculptor to the British Crown. On October 28, 1939, then Governor of Madras Lord John Erskine unveiled the statue.

“It is the only statue erected for a king in Chennai,” said historian R Venkatesh. A park around the statue was taken up for Broadway bus terminus expansion, leaving the statue exposed to the elements. The Travancore royal passed away in 1991, and a few years later the statue was shifted to the Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar by well-wishers.

Today, 81 years since the decree, the statue stands among discarded materials in the corner of the temple premise, having lost its place and significance in transition. “The Maharaja’s decree brought out reformist tendencies in Hindus. It is another thing that the decree did not find favour among dalit leaders like Ambedkar and Rettamalai Srinivasan who only saw it as an appeasement, and not a solution,” said political commentator D Ravikumar.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Chenna News / by Pradeep Kumar / TNN / November 14th, 2017

Biennale founders among ‘Power 100’

They first entered the list in 2015

Artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari, founders of the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB), have figured on the list of 100 most influential people in the world of art for the third year in a row.

The ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine on the world’s topmost contemporary artists and influential figures. Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list that includes Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, who participated in the first edition of the KMB in 2012; Germany’s Wolfgang Tillman; French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe; Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries; Bernard Arnault, founder of the Foundation Louis Vuitton; and Italian fashion house designer Miuccia Prada.

Two more Indians

Germany’s artist-as-theorist Hito Steyerl heads the 2017 ranking which only has two other Indian entries: the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective (39) founded by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and well-known art collector Kiran Nadar (99).

Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishamachari first entered the list in 2015 after the second Kochi-Muziris Biennale that ended in March.

Their individual success as artists was also acknowledged by the magazine, which said “Krishnamachari’s first solo exhibition in four years, Colour Code, took place in July at Gallery G, Bangalore, for ‘one polychromatic week’”.

“Komu has been continuing to promote contemporary Indian art through URU Art Harbour, a cultural hub housed in an old warehouse in Kochi that he opened in November,” it noted. “He recently launched a two-month inaugural exhibition titled ‘Mattancherry ‘– named after the historic quarter in Kochi in which URU Art Harbour is based – bringing together 13 artists and research collectives to reclaim the site from the tourist gaze.”


  • ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine
  • Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list

source : http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / Special Correspondent / Kochi – November 11th, 2017

Now, a heritage walk through royal town

Kochi:

With its ancient kovilakams, small leafy shrines overlooking moss-ridden ponds and a musical heritage to match with, Tripunithura always had an immense potential for heritage tourism.

But it was Fort Kochi and Mattancherry that always found a place in the Ernakulam tourist itinerary and the royal town never got its due.

The pilot royal heritage walk will be held on November 11 and 12 in two sessions – one each in the morning and evening

Now, this is set to change with two young professionals, Balagopal C K and Krishnan Varma of Cochin Royal Family, who have chalked out detailed heritage walks around the important sites of Tripunithura for the people to get acquainted with the historicity of the city.

“Despite being multicultural, the focus is only on the Colonial history of Tripunithura with regard to heritage cultural and heritage tourism. Due to this lack of attention and rampant construction and expansion in and around the area, the region is losing its sheen. The heritage walk is an attempt to create awareness about the city and its history to the locals,” said Balagopal, an IT professional and organizer of the heritage walk. He plans to revive the evanescing grandeur of the regal city of Tripunithura.

The pilot royal heritage walk will be held on November 11 and 12 in two sessions – one each in the morning and evening. Later, the walk will be held during the Vrischikolsavam at Tripunithura temple which spans over eight days from November 18 to 25.

With Balagopal is his cousin Krishnan, an architect who had documented the heritage of Tripunithura and held an exhibition of the same in 2014, in an endeavour to bring the city back to public eye.

“The walk will also be advantageous for tourists with a taste for historical structures as a couple of buildings which are kept locked throughout the year, like the Palace Girls School made exclusively for the princesses and Ammathampuran Kovilakam which has documented evidence of Sakthan Thampuran himself living there, will be opened for them during the course of the walk,” Krishnan said.

He added that lack of knowledge about such stories behind each structure is leading to the destruction of the centuries old buildings, which later gets replaced by concrete jungles.

“During the 90-minute walk, anecdotes and histories of the Cochin Royal family and the structures that are associated with them will be narrated for giving them an idea about the past of the royal family and the milieu. The script has been approved by the eldest generation of the royal family to ensure authenticity of the same,” Krishnan said.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Afrah Ali / TNN / November 09th, 2017

What’s got Malayalis on a record-breaking spree?

Pulling a bus with teeth, smashing coconuts with bare hands, and singing endlessly for days — the feats attempted by some Malayalis are as diverse as those who sought to achieve them.

In recent years, there’s been an obsession among Malayalis to create world records and the latest in the list is Thiruvananthapuram-based caricature artist William Panipicha, who broke the world record for the longest caricature marathon on Saturday.
Is the craze for the world records only for the 15 minutes of fame or something more? We talk to a few record holders to find out:

A mode to inspire others


The latest Malayali entrant in the Guinness Book of Records is William Panipicha, an art teacher at St Thomas HSS, Poonthura. By sketching non-stop for 72 hours, with just a five-minute break every hour, the teacher says he wanted to inspire his students.
“I wanted to convey to them that hard work pays. Drawing is my God-given skill and I wanted to use that for something good for the next generation, who loves to draw and paint,” says William, explaining that he broke the record of 61 hrs 55 minutes caricature marathon set by Australian artist Ronald Francis Heberling.

William, who hails from a fishing community, says that he hopes the recognition would also motivate the children from the community to chase their dreams.

“I am a self-taught artist and it’s with my sheer will power that I reached where I am today from poverty. Nowadays, fine arts can lead to prolific career opportunities in our society including animation sector. I want my success to motivate the youth to take up art and be successful,” he says.

Inspiring others is not the only reason for attempting such feats. Noted mridangam artiste Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan, from Palakkad, has five Guinness World Records to his name — including longest performance by a solo artiste and longest mridangam marathon.

While the feats showcase his creativity and diligence with the instrument, he says his first attempt in 2004 by setting the record of a 36-hour mridangam marathon, was dedicated to all cancer patients in memory of his sister, who passed away due to lung cancer the same year.

“I was not even aware of the world records at that time and it was meant as a musical tribute to my sister,” says Ramakrishnan. “When the event was over, my friends suggested that it can be submitted for the record.”

Later on, he chose the recording-breaking attempts as a mode to popularise the percussion instrument. “My final attempt in 2009 was sort of a musical therapy. As an artiste, I feel responsible to contribute for the musical world. Music has the power to heal and thus I performed Hridaya Talam — the longest percussion concert that lasted more than 500 hrs at the Nandavanam Hospital at Ottappalam,” he says, adding that he chose the venue as the hospital as that’s where his sister breathed her last.

Chasing records tests your potential
More than competitions to set records, chasing feats aid exploring one’s skills, echo the world record holders.

Ramakrishnan says that he experimented with new genres for his feats. “I was able to test the potential of mridangam and myself while setting these records. When our contributions are engraved in the history of music, it will also give the upcoming artistes confidence to discover their skills.”

Supporting the veteran’s view is 18-year-old music prodigy Anantha Krishnan S R, who etched his name in Asia Book of Records for the longest flute marathon earlier this year.

The fame has given him confidence and also more stages to perform, he says. “Because of the title, I now have a small celebrity status in the music arena despite being so young.

I wanted to give my music teachers the best gurudakshina and that’s what prompted me to chase the record,” he says.

Despite the laurels it has brought him, the youngster says, “I am not obsessed with the record. In fact, I want the upcoming musicians to break it. These challenges help us to analyse our potentials better.”

The satisfaction of chasing your dream and being the best in the world is something that completes you, says Payyanur-based, 30-year-old Prijesh Kannan, who entered the Guinness World Records for his memory power, a few years ago.

Creating records are never easy, he says. “It was my childhood dream to enter the record books. My preparations began while I was in Class 6 and it took me around 14 years to create the record. There were days when I slept only for four hours, so I could prepare,” he says.

Prijesh now is using his fame to help others improve memory power as well as training others based on his experience.

Some Malayalis have also attempted bizarre task in a bid to set records – one among them being Abheesh P Dominic from Kottayam, who found his way to the Guinness World Records by smashing 122 coconut shells with bare hands in a minute in February this year.
“I have tried to do so many weird things to enter the book of records. However, it was not to attain fame but to prove that our body has the potential to endure whatever we wish to do,” he says.

The dangerous stunts he has attempted till date includes pulling a 10 tonne bus for 50 meters using his teeth, stopping a high-speed pedestal fan, breaking helmets, hockey sticks and smashing tender coconuts using elbow, knee and head.

While most onlookers would think that Abheesh is abusing his body, he says on the contrary, the road to records has him living a disciplined lifestyle. “I avoid processed food, keep away from drugs and alcohol and eat healthy. That’s what has helped me achieve the feat,” he says. “Making your hands as hard as a rock was a result of determination and patience.”

Fame subsides eventually
While records help achieve fame and recognition, it’s not something that Abheesh ultimately wishes for. In fact, he wants to use the feat to find a livelihood. “Though I am credited for world records, it doesn’t help me find a job,” he says.

He works as a temporary mechanic at the Erattupetta KSRTC depot. “Despite the records, I have not received any support from the government. I have been working in a temporary post for the past 10 years but they did not convert me as a permanent staff. If we visit foreign countries and introduce ourselves as a world record holder, they treat you with respect. But it’s different here. We are ignored. A world record cannot satisfy the hunger of the family,” he says.

In Video: Kerala art teacher makes Guinness record for longest caricature marathon 

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Arya UR / TNN / November 06th, 2017

Portraying Kerala’s history through cartoons

Kochi :

Cartoonist Unnikrishnan’s ‘Kannirukki Kalam’ is a compilation of issues and affairs- both political and social. The artist who exhibited 60 cartoons- in English and Malayalam, at the Durbar Hall recently, says that he decided to showcase his work on Kerala Piravi, tracing the brief history of changes that shaped Kerala over the years.

He has portrayed different areas such as society, lifestyle, relationships, environment, literature, politics, religion, beliefs, over the last six decades.The works have been displayed in 10 states across the country from November 1. “Some of the exhibitions are ongoing. Some like in Kerala has ended in three days time. I wanted the public in other states to get a feel of the formation of our state,” he said.

The artist says the comic strips, though humourous is meant to be thought-provoking. Exhibition of the same cartoons with English subtitles was held concurrent with Kerala Formation day, organised by All India Malayalee Associations in places such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkatha, Ludhiyana, Bhuvaneswar, Goa, Thane and Delhi. Without loosing the essence of the pictures, cartoonist T V G Menon translated the subtitles

In Delhi, poet Sachidanandhan inaugurated the function.”The exhibition is astonishing in the way it contrasted the past and presentlife of Kerala. The sight on cartoons evoked in us that change has this much invaded our life. The event is evoking a rememberance of the transformation in one’s life style,” said Lenin P N, a cartoon enthusiast.

The three day event organised by Orthic Creative Center of artist T Kaladharan, was inaugurated  by Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Managing Director A P M Mohammed Hanish.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Sreejisha Sreedharan & Elizabeth Jacob / Express News Service / November 06th, 2017

Sister Rani declared Blessed by Vatican

Bishops attend a ceremony for beatification of Sister Rani Maria in Indore on Saturday. | Photo Credit: PTI

She was stabbed to death in Madhya Pradesh in 1995

Kerala-born nun Rani Maria Vattalil, who was stabbed to death in Madhya Pradesh in 1995, was declared Blessed, a sacred title in the Roman Catholic Church order, on Saturday.

Vatican’s head of the Department for Cause of Saints Cardinal Angelo Amato declared the nun, popularly known as Sister Rani, Blessed, a stage below sainthood. Cardinal Amato read out the Apostolic (Pope’s) letter declaring her Blessed in Latin at a Holy Mass at St. Paul Higher Secondary School’s ground at Indore. The nun’s killer also attended the ceremony.

Cardinal George Alencherry read out the letter of Pope Francis in English, while Cardinal Telesphore Toppo did so in Hindi.

Selmy, sister of the slain nun, said she was “overwhelmed” by the declaration. “The Blessed title is considered a prelude to sainthood as was the case with Mother Teresa,” Public Relations Officer of Madhya Pradesh Catholic Church Fr. Maria Stephen said. But for sainthood, a miracle is required, he said.

All the four cardinals of India, Mar Baselios Cleemis (president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India), Mar George Alencherry (of the Syro-Malabar Church), Oswald Gracias (Archdiocese of Bombay) and Telephore Toppo (Archdiocese of Ranchi), attended the ceremony.

Sister Rani, then 41, was stabbed about 50 times on board a bus in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas district on February 25, 1995, Fr. Stephen said. She was a member of the Syro-Malabar Franciscan Clarist congregation.

Her attacker Samunder Singh was hired to kill the nun as a few landlords in Indore were upset with her work for the uplift of landless people, he said. Singh was sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was commuted because of his good conduct in prison, Fr. Stephen said. He was pardoned by Sister Rani’s family. At the ceremony, Singh recalled his brutal act. “Then, I was in the grip of evil spirits. My life has changed,” he said.

The then Indore Bishop George Anathil initiated the process for Sister Rani’s canonisation process of the Blessed in 2001. Two months ago, the Vatican cleared the canonisation process to promulgate the ‘Decree of the Blessed’ on Sister Rani.

Sister Rani was born to Paili and Elisha on January 29, 1954 at Pulluvazhi in Kerala.   She took her first vows in 1974 and was then assigned to Bijnor for mission Apostolate. After serving in Bijnor, she was transferred to Satna and later in 1992 to Udainagar, the MP Catholic Church said. She was a champion for the poor, it said.

In Madhya Pradesh, the nun organised people exploited by moneylenders. She was threatened several times, but she refused to be cowed down.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States > Kerala / PTI / Bhopal-Indore, November 04th, 2017

Mega project on the lives of Travancore Kings

Seems like the Malayalam industry is all set to scale new heights, in terms of budget in 2018.  Joining the bandwagon of big-budget projects is director K Madhu, known for directing Sethurama Iyer CBI series.

A portrait of the king of Travancore | Wikimedia commons

He has announced a mega project on the lives of two Travancore kings who ruled from 1700 AD to 1800 AD.  The movie will be made in two parts, the director said.

The first part of the movie has been titled Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma- King of Travancore.  It will trace the life of Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the only Indian king who trounced a foreign power in India when he won the battle against the Dutch at Colachel. The second part will be on the Karthika Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who went on to be known as the Dharmaraja. This part is also said to deal with the Karthika Thirunal’s fight against Tipu Sultan too.

“This will be a project on a massive scale. Scriptwriter Robin Thirumala and I have been researching intensively for the last three years. We have finalised the script and signed the crew, that includes big names. We plan to go on the floors by next August,” says K Madhu, who adds that this is his ambitious project.

He says: “We have prominent actors from Malayalam and other industry. While we have fixed a superstar for the first part, the leading actor for the second is yet to be ascertained. We will announce the names and the production banner soon.”  K Madhu adds that the movies will boast of big names from Indian cinema. “We plan to make it in five languages,” he adds.  The director says he has signed the technical crew, that includes Peter Hein for action and Resul Pookutty for sound design. R Madhi will crank the camera. Keeravani, who composed the tunes for Baahubali, will be the music director.

This will be a project on a massive scale.

Scriptwriter Robin Thirumala and I have been researching intensively for the last three years. We have finalised the script and signed the crew
– K Madhu, director