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

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