On March 5th breaking news in a news channel that M G George Muthoot had passed away changed the day’s mood. With the untimely death of Mathai George George Muthoot, there was a feeling as if a pillar of strength was gone.
Muthoot Sir to some, and Muthoot Uncle to the Youngsters, is known for two things – one for emboldening the common man to take out the unprofitable investment of gold, lying idle in the lockers, and obtain a collateral loan backed by their favourite precious metal. Two, he was a dear son of the Indian Orthodox Church, the Church established by St Thomas the Apostle of Jesus in AD 52, of which he was the trustee for ten years.
As a visionary, while Muthoot Group branches jumped from 31 to 5000, he simultaneously helped his Church, and many other organizations, to reach greater heights of development and diversification. Besides, he had the solutions to bring into effect his vision topped with an immense talent for human relations. As a result along with diversifying his business from gold loans to real estate, schools and hospitals, he shared the expertise so that others could also grow and develop.
The fruits of his business success, over and above his philanthropy, trickled down to the grassroots level. During the lockdown, he helped many either by the people contacting Muthoot or by him outreaching to those in need. He never bothered that when he goes and works among the commons, people will evaluate him, and they may try to get undue favour from the entrepreneur whose family is ranked 26th richest in India by Fotbes, with an fortune of $4.8 billion.
Twenty years ago when I told my mother that I was going to take a loan against a little gold from a Muthoot branch she cried. She said it was against the culture of our family to pledge girl’s gold. But I persisted and went to the branch and shyly took the loan. Now things have changed. Taking gold-backed loans has become a common practice, whether it is for education, business or personal needs. The vision of George Muthoot needs appreciation for changing the investment perspectives in India.
As a member of the Indian Orthodox Church, Muthoot is compared to Kandathil Cheriyan Mammen Mappillai the Editor of Malayala Manorama. Both of them were successful in their enterprises and at the same time they wore the allegiance to the Church on their sleeves. They worked with the Church heads and layman for social reforms and to build educational institutions.
Muthoot knew the Bible thoroughly and was an altar server. On the annual feast day of the death anniversary of St Gregorios of Parumala, he used to lead padayatra to the St Gregorios Church.
He was always concerned about the well being of the priests and their families and at times did little act of kindness. A few years ago he was instrumental in registering the priests in a health insurance scheme. Last April, in the thick of the lockdown, my father, an Indian Orthodox Priest, had to undergo an emergency liver surgery. He could easily undergo the surgery because of the quick reimbursement that he received from the health insurance scheme.
Muthoot lived for 72 years in this world and he sowed seeds of vision and aspiration in the minds of many youngsters. His life can be aptly summed up with the Bible verse, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7.
Jeremiah, at the age of 3 years and 11 months, received a certificate and medal of appreciation from India Book of Records. He was appreciated for identifying brands by their logos. In 13 minute and 4 seconds he identified brand logos of 283 eCommerce, vehicle, food, social media, TV channel, cloth brand and many others in .
As a nine-month-old, Jeremiah crawled fast towards the garbage bin, while his mother was throwing an empty moisturiser can and he uttered “Olay’. This was the first time his mother realised his talent in logo recognition.
He talked before he walked. While travelling in the car his favourite activity is to identify shops from their logos. He stays with his parents Tinku and Roel in Abu Dhabi.
During the lockdown, when he went to Kerala, he surprised his grandparents with his memory skills. That is when his parents, encouraged by their relatives, decided to attempt the India Book of Records.
Making Jeremiah stay put to study is next to impossible. Owing to the pandemic, he is yet to physically attend formal school. He learned more than 300 logos in his play way method.
For the record-breaking attempt, he recognised 283 brands with ease. Appreciating his talent in identifying multiple logos, India Book of Records conferred a certificate and medal, two weeks ahead of his 4th Birthday.
With President Clinton and WHO Director General, she shares the dias, at the World Lung Health Conference. Divya Sojan is a three time TB survivor, and a fighter to the core. Furthermore, She works as a nursing officer at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi.
A doctor took note of her fighting spirit, and, in fact, he did not have a second thought while recommending her name as speaker for the World Health Conference. On publishing the list of speakers, to the surprise of everyone, those joining Divya as opening speakers included President Bill Clinton, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Director General of WHO), Princess Dina Mired, and actress and Union Ambassador Claire Forlani.
WORLD LUNG HEALTH CONFERENCE
In the 51st Conference on Lung Health, from 20-24 October 2020, Divya will speak about the impact of Covid-19 on those suffering from TB in India. Besides, President Clintion will be giving the key note address.
Orginally planned in Seville, Spain, an estimate of around 4000 delegates will be participating in the 5 day conference to be held virtually, this year.
“Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires strong leadership and we are thrilled to have two global health leaders like President Clinton and Director-General Tedros commit to speaking to Union World Conference delegates at this critical time,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union.
“We will ensure that this year’s Union World Conference is a key platform for scientists, community, policymakers and political leaders to both deliver and promote solutions that can contribute to getting us on the path to end the pandemic. Scientific integrity and evidence-based policy must be at the heart of everything we do.” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union
“COVID-19 is a stark reminder of the vital importance of breathing, and the devastating effects of anything that takes our breath away, including tobacco, air pollution and diseases such as TB,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “The pandemic is a wake-up call to do everything in our power to make sure everyone, everywhere can breathe freely and cleanly.”
Recognising and helping the needy and reaching them with the right kind of support is the gift, which only a very few possess. Molly Varghese is one such person who helps in whichever way she could the needy that came to her notice.
“Social work is my passion and hobby. I love people smiling after a small service given to them – that makes my day”, says Molly who distributed more than 1400 free food kits, during lockdown, to the underprivileged not possessing a ration card. A former military nurse of lieutenant officer rank, she even visited the Tihar Jail, few years ago, to offer counselling sessions for the inmates.
Lockdown Food Kits
The very first day of lockdown she realized the hardships that the poor will undergo. “I could not sleep on March 24th the day of declaring lockdown because I knew them who will suffer and I realised they were in trouble.”
“So I called social work partner Sonu Suhail and explained everything to him. With Rs 5000 donated by my daughter and Rs 5000 by another friend, on March 25th we distributed 20 food kits worth Rs 700 among slum dwellers, the place where we earlier conducted classes for the beggar children.” The food kit contained essential items like rice, wheat flour, oil and dals.
Numbers increased, until June 8th, daily 30-40 food kits amounting to Rs 4.5 lakh got distributed. Taking notice of her efforts, ChildLine provided a vehicle to distribute the food kits. Even now a few families are being supported until they become stable.
First instance of helping the needy
Her first experience with social work began when a lady with two small children, a boy and a girl and a drunkard husband approached her. Molly helped the children get admission in renowned schools and now the boy graduated from DU and the girl is pursuing a nursing degree. “Since the children got daily guidance without fail they did not go astray. A help which later I understood was kind of social service.”
Finding a passion at 50
She became involved in social work at the age of 50, after fulfilling the duties of nurturing her only daughter. “At 50 years I had a conversation with Lord and I wanted to give back as I continued receiving blessings from Lord. ‘I said Lord “I am 50 now, all these years I spent time for my daughter and family. Give me something to do.”
Tihar Jail Visit
The first opportunity was the visit to the Tihar jail “Two years I heard their cries (some have convicted crimes too) and some yet to prove their innocence. After two years it was too much for me to take. It was too heavy to handle as they all prisoners waited for us as solace and to call their families. Prisoners’ family are the most affected because of the earning member and they get no support.”
How do you recognize the needy?
Finding the needy is very easy. It is my promise and a plea to Lord that no day should go without helping someone; even a smile will do. As I get the money I will find the needy. If we look around there are hundreds of needy. Guards, maids, beggars, women exploited by husbands and so on. People approach me not in big numbers, one or two in a month. People give money through the what app group called Care & share.
The family supports. Husband, who works with a private firm, takes care of the accounting and daughter gives the financial support to help the needy.
What message do you convey to the readers on Gandhi Jayanthi?
Gandhiji said ‘be the change what you want to see in the world. So BE THE CHANGE unless we change nothing happens it is futile to expect others to change. Nothing is impossible if you have a passion.
Age is not a bar to study. If we study after a lot of experience in life it is a different feeling. In adult education, we study for the sake of learning. The real learning is real acquiring of knowledge.
Gandhi,a superhuman being, embraced everyone with his love irrespective of cast creed and class, and his used non-violence and peaceful approach. The teaching of Jesus Christ inspired him. Love, compassion, kindness and mercy are the virtues we need like Gandhi to see the human being as the children of one God.
Dr PM Mathew Vellore, worked as clinical psychologist, at Vellore Christian College, after earning a Doctorate in Psychology from Kerala University. He added Vellore in his name, as a rememberence of his working at Vellore.
Hailing from a small village Karipuzha, in Mavelikara, Dr Matthews carved a niche for himself in the field of Psychology and Sexology. Owing to his nstursl talents in writing skills, he could answer the complicated queries regarding marital and related issued.
His answers were blunt and to the point, be it in the question and answer section in the magzines, or the Psychology question hours on televisions. The first cosultant in Kerala to discuss sexology and marital isuses in open forum, he earned a place in the heart of the common public. Therefore he was the most sought after go to person for Psychological issues in Kerala.
After his stint at Vellore, he opened a Clinic in 1970 at his home in Thiruvananthapuram. At home became a popular psychological counselling centre. In addition to his flouring practice, he grew in stature as a writer and actor. He has written 20 book and columns in popular magazines were a run away success.
The movies he acted include Rathri Mazha, Nizhalkuthu and Ee Kanni Koodi. He tried his hands in Politics, by contesting in state election.
Dr mathews suffered from age related ailments for the last few years and passed away yesterday. He is survived by his wife Susy, and Children Dr Sojan, Dr Reba and Lola.
Leela Menon is the Mamooty and Mohanlal of Journalism in Kerala. Even after forty years in the field of journalism, her position as the most dynamic Journalist in Kerala remains unrivalled. Twenty years back when I joined Indian Express, Kochi, for an internship, Leela Menon was working there. She was one of my inspirations to join journalism.
Leela Menon, 83, has got enthusiasm and tremendous memory that people half her age do not have. Some of her investigative reports paved the way for social changes, especially for the women. One such story she always narrates is about reporting of the prostitution happening at a village called Aruvacode. The villagers, mainly potters, turned to prostitution when pottery business became unprofitable.
Story of Leela Menon
Leela Menon went to the village with photographer Jeevan Jose and made a report that gained national attention. Finally, the potters were taught to make terracotta pots. And thus the village was back to a normal village.
She wielded her pen to bring changes to the society, especially to the women. At Indian Express, the senior journalists used to advise me to write like Leela Menon. She was the yardstick.
Her wording, whether about humans or animals, was so powerful that when she wrote a report steps were taken on a war footing. Once she reported about how using elephants at a certain function was cruelty to the animal. Immediate steps were taken to ban the parading of elephants at the function again.
Working from young age
Leela Menon, might be a rare achiever in India, who has been working from the age of 18 in 1948 to the present date. She started her career at the Post Office and went on to become the first woman telegraphist in the post office. When a Journalist, from Indian Express, published story about the telegraphist, ‘sitting pretty at the post office’ she became interested in Journalism. After getting trained in Journalism, she became a journalist with Indian Express.
Her journalist instinct, nose for news, was so strong that sometimes she could bring out powerful, life-changing stories by just sitting in her office. During her assignment in Delhi, Indian Express, her air hostess roommate told her of not allowed to marry when in service. Leela Menon interviewed some air hostesses and wrote a story that not allowing them to marry was against their fundamental right. Her story paved the way to change the law that prevented air hostess from marrying.
Born in an aristocratic family, in a pristine village in Eranakulam district of Kerala, she grew up on books and the beautiful landscapes. Her husband Bhaskara Menon was very supportive of all her works.
Leela Menon is a fighter, who survived second stage cancer in the 1990’s. When I met her she was so jovial and energetic that little did I know that, at that time, she was actually a cancer survivor. She now gives counselling to cancer patients. A heart attack and facial palsy could not dampen her spirit.
She is now the Editor in Chief at Janmabhoomi.
When I tried to contact her I came to know that she is under treatment at a hospital in Kochi. Wish you, Mam, a speedy recovery.
The story of Thripthi, is a story of resolute willpower and determination. As a young boy, Kiran he lost his parents and he did not have anyone to share his psychological turmoil. He wanted to be a woman.
He left his home and wandered in various cities. Doing menial jobs and all the while contemplating ways to have a surgery for a sex change.
Surgery for Sex Change
Finally, three years back, he had enough money to get the surgery done. And then Kiran changed to Thripthi Shetty.
The story of Thripthi Shetty is the story of a transformation. It is the story of successful women entrepreneur, model, and actor who is being constantly interviewed by media. As a transgender she has got many firsts to her credit:
She is the first transgender to get employment in Kerala.
She is the first person to apply for mudra loan under the transgender category.
She is aspiring to be the first transgender businesswoman in Kerala.
Story behind the transformation
Thripthi came in contact with Dr Annie, who took her to an old lady, who taught how to make handmade jewellery and showpieces. Since then, at her rented home, she creates beautiful jewellery in stones and black metal. She participates in a number of exhibition and there is a long queue to buy her attractive jewellery.
She also creates beautiful show pieces from used liquor bottles.
She is a creative person and talented. She got an opportunity to act in a movie. She is looking forward to acting in more movies.
Recently a beauty pageant, Queen of Dhwayah, 2017, was held for the transgenders in Kerala. In which she was selected in the final fifteen.
Thripthi is a bundle of ideas, and she doesn’t want to rest on the laurel. She has many plans for the future. A roof over the head and delivering the schemes for transgenders without any obstacle is all that Thripthi Shetty wants right now.
Her dream is to open a handicraft shop in a tourist destination. For which she hopes to get the support of the government.
Obstacles for transgenders
Thripthi feels that there are many people who want to help the transgender. But they are reluctant. If one person shows the way by helping the transgenders then others will truly follow.
Thripthi says that there are a number of schemes for the transgenders in Kerala. But due to some obstacles, the schemes are reaching the deserving persons. She hopes that steps will be taken to ensure that the schemes would rightfully benefit the transgenders.
One noteworthy fact that Thripthy said is that because the transgenders are not given voter ID card, the government is losing many valuable votes. In another interview, with a channel, she said that there are 25,000 people who declared themselves as transgenders. Those who hide their identity may be many times more.
People like Thripthi want to live a normal life like any human being. They do not want to stir upon, teased or abused. And they should receive jobs like anyone else.
Thripthi’s jewellery is going on today also (December 24th) at Marine Drive, Kochi. If anyone is at Kochi please visit her stall. A glimpse of the products made my Thripthis are here:
Swaminathan Rajappan Pillai, may be congenitally blind, but the moment he begins the conversation with his favorite word to break the ice – “Hello”, we will marvel at his depth of knowledge and brood at our own inner darkness. He is a post graduate from the prestigious London School of Economics and he is MA (History) gold medalist from Kerala University. He is the winner of cash awards, medals, certificates, books and trophies from voluntary organizations and trade unions for getting first class in all public examinations.
He has traveled to more than two dozen countries and wherever he went people wrote about him in newspapers and magazines. What attracts people to him is his positive attitude to life, and his amazing usage of other faculties to compensate of for the one disability that he has. He achieved every dream like others – he is well educated, married, has a daughter, and has a lot of friends. He is a blind journalist, which is a rarity in India. And above all, he is a motivator and counselor for friends, students, and colleagues.
We worked together in an Institute, where we worked as IELTS instructors. He is lovingly called as Swami Sir by everyone and his classes were always crowded. We were assigned the task to prepare possible questions and answers for the speaking and writing module of IELTS exam, which was to be published as a book. I used to create the possible questions and Swami Sir gave the answers. No matter what question I created from topics under the Sun, he immediately churned out answers from his wealth of knowledge stored in his mind. Swami sir does not carry any gadgets. Whatever knowledge he shares is extempore. The book that he helped in essaying, ten years back, sells even today like hot cake.
He has extraordinary insight about human abilities and fallacies. So he could help many people solve their family issues. He recommended the CEO of our institute to assign me with the editing task of the IELTS book. Neither I nor the CEO was aware of my book editing abilities. I am indebted to Swami Sir for being the beacon in my writing and editing career.
Here is an interview with Swami Sir who has guided many, those who can see, for a better future in their career and family life.
What do you do nowadays?
I am an academic and freelance journalist. I teach English to students of IELTS, TOEFL, PET, GRE, GMAT, SAT and general English at Centre for American Studies, Vazhuthacaud Trivandrum. I sent articles to various publications such as Daily News and Analysis in Delhi. Moreover, I broadcast on some American radio stations.
British and Indian media organizations have accepted and published all my articles with no change of even one word. Interviewing the then British Education Secretary David Blunkett for my first-ever radio program is a remarkable achievement in my journalistic career. My listeners of BBS RADIO, which is an online radio station based in California like my talk shows very much.
Many girls who had been with me during school and college days were very fond of me.
Tell us something about your childhood and education?
I am the eldest of my parents’ four children. I have a brother and two sisters. All of us are now married and settled.
I began my schooling at the age of eight because my parents were unaware of the existence of special schools for the blind in India. I joined a newly opened blind school at Varkala on July 15, 1968. I was the smallest child. I have never looked back since then. Even now, most blind children study at separate residential schools until they are ready for high school in India. I did that. The blind school at Varkala had no government recognition at that time. So, my parents moved me to a government blind school at Kottayam and I did my primary school there.
I had my high school and early university education up to my BA degree respectively at T.D. High School and S.D. College at Alleppey, which is my hometown. I had my first Master’s degree at the Kerala University Campus at Karyavattam Trivandrum. The rest of my education was in London after working in Lakshadweep as a college lecturer for nearly nine years.
Tell us something about your wife and daughter?
My wife Sunitha is a qualified medical doctor. We have only one daughter and her name is Devi. She is now studying medicine in Russia. She is going to be a fourth-year student.
Where did you meet your wife?
I met my wife at the Alleppey Bus Stand on May 10, 1988. She is a native of Quilon. At that time, she was studying medicine at Alleppey Medical College. We were introduced by some common friends. Gradually, our friendship grew to romance and we got married on September 30, 1991.
Which all countries have you been so far?
I began my overseas journeys with England where I went to do my higher studies at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science. I have been to 29 countries so far such as the UK, the US, Germany, France, Poland, Holland, Switzerland, the Middle-East, the West Indies, Russia etc.
Which country is the friendliest to people with different abilities?
Britain and the United States are very much friendly to people with special needs. Asia and Africa are far from friendly. In the Middle-East, they are not in the limelight of society.
Proclamation by ministers and officers are not scarce but many people with disability have a tough life in India.
What is the situation of differently abled people in India?
It is far from friendly in India. Proclamation by ministers and officers are not scarce but many people with disability have a tough life in India. With little or no assistance from the government and a society heedless of the plight of disabled people, their lot is cast in a world of darkness and solitude. They drag out their sterile existence in silent agony. For example, visually impaired people need scribes to appear for various public examinations including university examinations. Government remuneration for such scribes is very poor. People are unwilling to perform this role for such meager wages. Besides, there are several other restrictions such as the scribe should be a less qualified person than the examinee.
What all gadgets assist you in your activities?
In the past Braille was the only available tool for blind people. These days, computers and access technology have improved their lives significantly. I use computers and mobile phones. Android and Apple phones and similar devices are really good. I use them in my life. In the past, a very informed and knowledgeable blind individual could be at least a couple of years behind his/her sighted counterparts even in Britain and the United States. Now that online facilities are accessible thanks to modern technology, it is possible for us to work together comfortably.
I use my other faculties, i.e. my hands and ears. I am a keen observer of everything that happens around me.
Unlike other people with special needs you are a jolly person, you live your life to the fullest. You used to tell us about women in your life in schools, colleges, and family; can you share some of the stories here?
I do believe that men and women are complementary. To like gentlemen is what good women like. I have profound pleasure and pride in being a gentleman. For that reason, I have had several women in my life as friends, colleagues, advisers, well wishers, and counselors. Many girls who had been with me during school and college days were very fond of me. I had similar feelings towards them as well. With some, the passion was inexplicably deep. However, as a person with a disability, I was unable to give them any promise until I was standing on my own feet. Some of them have not forgotten it.
People around you marvel at some of your extraordinary abilities, which even a normal human being does not possess – your roti and sabzi gets over together, for a normal person either the roti or the sabzi will be left in the end; you can touch and immediately say the model of the bike; and you know every denomination of currency, no one can fool you. What is the secret your success?
I use my other faculties, i.e. my hands and ears. I am a keen observer of everything that happens around me.
How are the new Indian currency notes different from the old ones?
They are less wide. They have some identifiable marks. However, Indian coins are more difficult than notes.
What message do you and your wife have people—able-bodied and disabled?
I would like society to become just and egalitarian. Equality before the law, the equal opportunity before the law and equal protection before the law are the cardinal principles of rule of law. These principles must be practiced everywhere so that the man in the street has room for liberty and justice.
I was interviewed by a lady and I cannot remember what I said as I panicked when she asked if my Dynavox could say ‘Namaste’ I tried but it could not pronounce the word. Imagine it, lots of people watching, camera crews, children excited and my Dynavox won’t speak Hindi. How embarrassing!. Even though Sam Spelt it to me in sign language, I then typed it correctly but the lady who was interviewing me for Lifestyle Today news did not recognise the word when she heard it. I panicked, and was swearing inside my head! I was on the Indian TV news! Argh!!! Luckily Sam saw the panic in my face and helped out, phew!!
He speaks such scholarly Hindi, that you will never imagine that Sajeev Sarathie was born to Malayalee parents in Kerala. He grew up in Delhi from the age of four and he became more familiar with Hindi than Malayalam. Now he is a connoisseur of Hindi Language and Literature. He has carved a niche for himself as a Hindi Poet, Writer and Lyricist. He is a much-loved writer the Hindi media to write of Hindi songs, poems and screenplays. He is doing tremendous teamwork to promote unknown talents. He is also part of radioplaybackindia.com a leading Hindi blog in podcasting. He also worked with Late President Honourable DrAPJ Abdul Kalam. He also wrote songs for Honourable Prime Minister Narender Modi’s Beti Bachao, Beti Bachao movement. After the release of his latest song Bekhud, I had a voice interview with Sajeev.
1. Tell us something about the latest song Bekhud?
Bekhud is my latest single, it is a romantic song which has an Arabic feel to it, Composed by very talented Krishnaraj and beautifully rendered by International pop sensation Biswajit Nanda along with super singer Hema Sardesai who need no introduction at all, the voice behind songs like Awara Bhanvare, Badal pe paun hai and many more Bollywood hits. She worked with the likes of ARR, Salim Suleimaan, Anu Malik etc, she is indeed a living legend, and we are fortunate to have her voice for the duet…
2. Tell us about your life as a songwriter?
I am writing lyrics for the last 10 years collaborating virtually with many national and international composers and singers. Since most of them are placed in different cities of the world, we connect through the internet and do a lot of online jamming to create music. I started with an online platform called “Hind Yugm”, and in 2008 released our very first and literally a zero budget album called “Pahla Sur”, which has 9 songs, all done through our online jamming process. It was an experimental album released in the World Book Fair and became the second largest sold product of the event. 6 songs in this album were written by me and the kind of response I got really pushed me to go further and to take new challenges in this field. After that, I produced two more unique albums called “kaavyanaad” and “Suno Kahani”. In Kavyanaad, we gave an opportunity to new generation music composers to compose great work of legends of Hindi Literature like Nirala, Pant, Jaishankar Prasad, Mahadevi Verma and more. While in Suno Kahani we compiled 15 stories of the great Munshi Premchand in an album.
Another album of mine, “Beat of Indian Youth” which has 13 songs in 9 different Indian languages was released in 2013. This unique feature of this album has 13 songs in 9 different languages on one single theme saw it enter into The Limca Book of Records. Though I penned lyrics only for 3 songs, this album gave me the honour to share the lyrical space with our National icon and Ex-President Late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Ji in the song “Hindustan”.
One of my song from Pehla Sur, “Baat yeh kya hai jo” was recreated and featured in the movie Dam999, which was released in the year 2011.
Apart from my 96 singles which have been released so far, I have also penned for various initiatives/ movements by our Govt or other institutions. For example, one of my song “Druzba” was featured in Indo-Russian Friendship festival in Moscow. In 2015, I wrote a song for the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” movement started by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Modi Ji. “Hindi Meri Awaaz Hai”, one of my poems is part of the 10th standard curriculum in Maharashtra.
An anthology of poems, “Ek Pal Ki Umr Le Kar” has been published by Heavenly Baby Books.
Apart from lyrics I have also written a lot of screenplays for various production houses. So, overall it has been a very satisfying journey so far.
4. You are from Kerala, then how did you get interested in Hindi poems and songs?
Yes, I was born in Kerala and while I was 4 we shifted to Delhi. So, both the places are a part of my childhood. My schooling began in Hindi medium while at home we communicated in Malayalam. However since all my friends spoke Hindi, so probably that’s why Hindi became the dominating medium for me to express myself.
5. You are doing tremendous work online for promoting unknown singers and songwriters, Tell us something about your online web radio radioplaybackindia.com?
Well, radioplaybackindia is doing very well and is a leading Hindi blog in podcasting. We promote original songs, involving amateur artists. We have a weekly programme called “Bolti Kahaniya” through which we podcast Hindi stories and is a huge hit among our audience. The blog is rich in information on Indian Classical music, Film and Non-Film music.
I host a programme called, “Ek Mulakat Zaruri Hai” which recently completed 50 episodes, featuring several famous Bollywood artists like Shubha Mudgal, Amit Khanna, Ritu Pathak, Shriram Ayyar, Ibrahim Ashq and many more.
There is another programme I host, “Geet Ateet” which takes the audience into an unknown or lesser known story behind the song; using some artist associated with that song.
Programmes like “Old is Gold”, “Mehfil-e-Ghazal”, “”Podcast Kavi Sammelan” etc are big hits of our channel.
I am one of the 6 founding members of the channel and though I have been given the honour of being Chief Editor; but to tell the truth I have not been able to devote much time to radioplaybackindia.
6. Your songs are different from the Bollywood film music or mainstream albums. Your songs have the nostalgia of the yesteryears. Do you have a huge fan following for your kind of songs and music?
Of course, there is a huge audience for my kind of lyrics. Actually, I got a little surprised by your query on following for different style of lyrics and music. As a matter of fact, I am open to all form of music. Old, new, Indie, western…for me music is music and it’s my way to connect with the God almighty.
7. You were affected by polio from the age of one, Has the disability been a hindrance or an inspiration for your successful career in Hindi literature?
We all have weakness and shortcomings, as no one is perfect in this world. Life. I would say that God has been kind that my disability is only at a physical level and I am very well aware of that; otherwise many people don’t even get to know what their weakness is and therefore find it difficult to move ahead in life.
As a matter of fact, now I don’t even consciously think of it until someone points it out. I think, when people talk about my progress despite my physical disability, I feel God is presenting me as an example for many others who have no physical disability; that they can achieve so much more in life if they only follow their passion with dedication.
8. Tell us something about your family and those who are behind your success?
My parents always supported me. I have an understanding wife and two beautiful and gifted children, and all of them have contributed immensely in more than one way in all that I have achieved so far.
Apart from my family, I got strong support from my friends. I am really blessed to have such nice friends. And above all, its God, my best friend; who is always holding my hand.
9. Please recite one of your poem for us?
Sure….this poem is titled “punar-janm” which means ‘Rebirth’
sangsaari kii had se pare,
Duniya kii jadd se door,
wo jiddi paak bedaag sa khwaab,
Dekha tha use jaate,
shaam ke dhundhalke men,
Doobte sooraj ke paar,
jahan samunder toot ke girta hai,
Kisi Anjaan si khala men…
Fir se lautne ko kabhi,
Kinhin a-janmi aankhon men….
10. Have your written in English or any other language?
No, I think I am not that versatile. So, for me, one language is sufficient for this life.