Popular film locations in Thiruvananthapuram

Did you know that Thiruvananthapuram is where it all began for Malayalam cinema? In 1930, J.C. Daniel shot Vigathakumaran in his own studio, the now non-existent Travancore National Pictures at Pattom and since then the city has been a preferred location for filmmakers, even during the days when shooting was mostly confined to studios. Although, for a time, Malayalam cinema shifted to Chennai, countless movies from 1950s to 1970s were shot in Merryland Studio at Nemom.

Moving forward, Malayalam cinema embraced realism and shooting in real locations became the rage. The capital city continues to remain a favourite location for writers and directors to set their stories in. Here’s our pick of top film locations in Thiruvananthapuram city.

Bridging the past

‘Kireedam’ Bridge is perhaps the only location in Thiruvananthapuram city that’s now known by the film that made it famous. Who can forget Sethumadhavan (Mohanlal), the hero of Kireedam (1989) sitting on this dilapidated little bridge of sighs in pivotal scenes in the film, especially in that heart-rending song Kanneer Poovinte… The bridge that connects the Punchakkari wetlands to Vellayani lake is now an offbeat tourist destination and a nice place to take in the picturesque surroundings.

Studio town

Since the 1980s Chitranjali studio at Pachalloor has been the place for many Malayalam films and tele-serials, with set designers waving their magic wands and turning the studio’s many production floors into homes, offices, schools, hospitals and even temples. A lot of the post-production work in Malayalam cinema and serials is done here as well. PadayottamGeethanjaliOppamMunnariyippuVeeram… are some of the films that were shot here.

White façade of power

The cunning Balachandran Adiga in Vasthavam and the charming Krishnakumar in Lion have their eyes set on the Government Secretariat. The seat of political power in the state, in real as well as reel life, the imposing white columns and corridors of the Secretariat are a ubiquitous sight in several notable Malayalam flicks. In movies such as Vasthavam, Thanmathra, Vakkalathu Narayanan KuttyAugust 15 and so on, the plot or a portion of it is centred around the 140-year-old sprawling building at Statue junction.

Life in Jawahar Nagar

The sight of a listless Vinod (Jagathy Sreekumar) perched on a compound wall in Jawahar Nagar while listening, for the umpteenth time, to the brave tales of Fauji Rajashekharan (Shankaradi) is as nostalgic as it gets when it comes to Malayalam movies. The scene is from Venu Nagavally’s Sugamo Devi (1986), which was shot entirely in Thiruvananthapuram. The rib-tickler Odaruthammava Aalariyaam, was also extensively shot in the residential area. So was Thalayana Manthram and several other flicks. It was a favourite location of Priyadarsan’s during his early days as a director.

The quintessential green

Much like the Central Park in New York, we have our own little green haven in the middle of Thiruvananthapuram city. The landscaped expanse of Napier Museum and zoo have been a backdrop for innumerable songs and movie scenes. A brooding Venu Nagavally walking endlessly on the banks of the lake inside the zoo is a defining image from K.G. George’s Ullkadal (1979) and who can forget the colourful climax of Salt n Pepper (2011) set in front of the Napier Museum. Right from the black and white era onwards, the Museum grounds have seen many film stars ace it for the camera.

Waves and rocks

During a 1980s’ tourist season, Fabien (Gavin Packard), a drug dealer with a penchant for fraud, wrecked havoc in the lives of the locals desperately making a living from the growing tourism on Kovalam beach. The 1989 P. Padmarajan classic Season has a cult following among movie buffs for its haunting depiction of the rocks, blue sea and never ending coconut palms carpeting the hillsides of Kovalam. Much before Season, Amitabh Bachchan and Sreedevi romanced, for the movie Inqulab (1983), on the beaches and rocky heights of Kovalam. More recently the beach was featured in Shyamaprasad’s Off Season, one of the ten shorts that was part of the anthology film Kerala Cafe (2009). The Inspection Bungalow, perched on a cliff, mid way to Vizhinjam, is also a favourite with film makers, featuring in films such as Chattakaari (2012).

Something foreign

The Park Centre, inside India’s first IT park; Technopark Thiruvananthapuram, has been a movie star since the time it was opened in late 90s being a set for films such as The Truth (1998), Superman (1997) and FIR (1999)The tree-lined streets and green spaces inside the park have often been that odd ‘foreign’ country in certain movies. Rithu (2009) was perhaps be the first film in Malayalam that discussed the life of techies in the IT hub of Kerala.

College days

 

The image of a teary-eyed Arathi (Manju Warrier), staring down the red corridor of University College to the tunes of Aaro viral meetti is still a striking visual, from Pranayavarnangal (1998). University College at Palayam, Government Women’s College at Vazhuthacaud, Mar Ivanios College at Nalanchira, All Saints College at Chacka, and, recently, St. Xavier’s College at Thumba have been the setting for that happening campus in quite a few Malayalam movies.

Article Courtesy: The Hindu
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Tiffin4Me, a meal subscription service, delivers home cooked food

Meal subscription service Tiffin4Me delivers home cooked food daily to your home or your office

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a tiffin from home to get you through your work day. However, it’s just not possible to always make or pack home cooked food. That’s where Tiffin4Me comes in. It’s a new meal subscription service for everything home cooked. The food is delivered to home or office in Thiruvananthapuram, according to each customer’s preference.

“Our mission is to be the best alternative of not eating from home,” says Monu Gopinath, the brain behind the food-tech startup, along with his fiancée and co-worker, Reshma. “Most of us in the corporate world find it difficult to pack and carry meals from home and often end up eating from restaurants, which need not necessarily be good for health in the long run. We did a bit of market research and found that there was a dire need for a food delivery service that’s dependable,” adds Monu, who runs HR firm, Connecting2Work.

Tiffin4Me was started six months ago with just a handful of customers in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College area. It now delivers breakfast, lunch and dinner to some 60 homes all across Thiruvananthapuram city, plus one-time parcels to a few dozen other customers throughout the day.

The name of the startup comes from the reusable, airtight tiffin boxes that the meals in the subscription service are delivered in. The one-time orders come packed in toasted banana leaves. “We give the meals in tiffins only to regular customers because they can be returned when we deliver the next meal and so on. Most of our regular customers are office-goers, doctors and retired folks. We also deliver to people staying in service apartments in the city,” says Monu.

The menu is mainly ethnic Kerala food, rather simple fare sans any froufrou. All the food is cooked by Reshma’s mother, Prasanna, along with a bunch of women, in the kitchen of her home in Thamalam, near Poojapura in Thiruvananthapuram. The menu is fixed for a week. For example, if one day breakfast is dosa, sambhar and rasavada, the next day it might be idli, chutney and uzhunnuvada. Lunch is constant — white rice with five side dishes, including fish curry and sometimes fish peera too. Dinner, meanwhile, is either chappati or gothambu puttu with curry.

Their USP

One of their USPs is flexibility of food delivery. “For example, if a customer wants breakfast delivered at home and lunch at work and dinner again at home, we can do that. Or if they want breakfast and lunch delivered together early in the morning, we can do that as well. And that’s every day on time, even hartal days. It all depends on the customer,” says Monu.

Another USP is that you pay only for what you eat in the meal subscription service. “Customers only have to pay at the end of the month. So, say the customer is not in town for a week, then he/she does not have to pay for that week,” he explains.

Otherwise, just call in your order for breakfast between 5 pm and 8 pm the previous day. Lunch orders will be taken till 11 am and dinner orders till 4 pm on the day of delivery.

Contact: +91-9037043614

Article Courtesy: The Hindu

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Tuck into delectable rustic eats & fast food at Kerala Hotel, Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Hotel at Akkulam has delectable rustic treats with some surprises, all at reasonable prices

Vehicles whizz past on the NH bypass near Akkulam bridge in Thiruvananthapuram. If you follow your nose while on the service road that goes to Akkulam, you will reach Kerala Hotel, a small space with a thatched roof, opposite an upcoming mall. The aroma of spicy meat dishes lingers in the air. It is packed to the rafters and banana leaves are wiped clean by hungry gourmets.

17tvmbeefvaratiyathu

Something different

In a corner seat, there is someone biting into a juicy Kerala Burger. Yes, Kerala Burger! It is one of the several innovations of Manoj Manoharan who runs Kerala Hotel. Since opening a year ago, the restaurant has been trending on Facebook and other social media on account of its delicious non-vegetarian treats as well as their improvised eats like the Kerala burger, porotta lappo and Kerala pizza.

“I experiment a lot and, fortunately, most of them have worked with the customers. For instance, Kerala burgers have become a favourite,”says Manoj.

The feast kickstarts with Kerala burgers and pothu kizhi. While the steaming burger arrives on a piece of banana leaf, kizhi comes in a bundled banana leaf. The burger with capsicum-flavoured beef roast filler in two coin porottas is a little hard to hold but is a heavenly bite. Warm spicy beef gels well with fluffy porotta. Kizhi, although it is similar in looks to the burger, has two layers of beef — one a bit juicy and the other dry — and tastes more local.

The burger, roll and kizhi, Manoj says, were inspired by street food memories of his childhood.“We used to buy porotta and spicy beef from thattukadas at festival grounds. The sellers used to pack them together in a bundle and by the time it reached home, it would be like meat rolls that we have today and it was delicious,” he remembers.

Next up on our wishlist is KH 6 pack chicken (a whole fried chicken). But Manoj informs us that we are late and the last one was served a few minutes ago. Not to be discouraged, we go for ‘chicken 85’ and chappathi. Chicken pieces fried, some a little too much, is garnished with caramelised onion and is a treat to be had with the chappathi.

A glass of fruit sarbath full of banana and apple with poppy seeds for flavour tops off the evening.

What’s for lunch

A traditional Kerala meal and kizhi biriyani are the only two options for lunch at Kerala Hotel. Boiled rice served in clean plantain leaves along with avial, coconut chutney, mango pickle, salted and fried chilli and red spinach thoran, is a mini-sadhya in itself. Dal and fish curry are in plenty. We have a bit of both. Fish fries of various kind arrive on a large platter. For us, it is a mackerel and a plate of squid fry. While the squid is soft and ginger flavoured, the mackerel has been fried dry to an irresistible crunch. A plate of beef varatiyathu follows. Cooked exquisitely with thick garlic-onion gravy, it goes wonderfully with dal- drenched rice. It might go even better with porotta or chappathi.

Manoj offers different discounts at the hotel. On Mondays he gives 5% discount on the bill for Kerala Hotel Facebook group members, now 7,800 strong and counting. Likewise, bachelors and women get similar discounts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively. Ex-servicemen, senior citizens and all differently abled customers can avail themselves of a 10% discount on any day from the Kerala Hotel. The list of discounts doesn’t end there as there are other offers like special combo meal for students and free food for children below eight on all the days.

* A wholesome meal for two, which does not include whole fried chicken, would cost around Rs 250.

* Pothu kizhi, KH six pack chicken and fish delicacies are among the must haves.

* Kerala hotel is open Monday to Saturday from 12 pm to 10.30 pm.

Contact: 9995276467

Article Courtesy: The Hindu

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Ajay Prasad; “The Millennial Man”

Development evangelist Ajay Prasad on giving back to his home town, with the upcoming mega infrastructure project Taurus Downtown Technopark.

It’s called karma. Long ago Ajay Prasad, then a strategy consultant at a real estate management firm, social development blogger and torch-bearer of the Trivandrum Development Front (TDF), a citizen-led initiative to push the capital city’s development agenda, told me, that I should interview him on his big plans for Thiruvananthapuram, his home town. I brushed it off as an idealistic youngster’s dreams.

ajayp

At present, Ajay, Country Managing Director, India, at Taurus Investment Holdings, is the man behind the much talked about Taurus Downtown Technopark, that is set to come up in Technopark Phase III in Thiruvananthapuram. When completed, the ₹1,500 crore project is set to snazz up the scene with it’s swanky office spaces, shopping mall, restaurants, a 11-screen multiplex and a hotel, among others.

Today, it’s rather difficult to pin Ajay down for a interview, busy as he is flying around the world on work, Singapore one day, Sao Paolo the next and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is now based, the third! When we do catch up with him — in Munich, Germany, where he is on a ‘workcation’ — it’s endearing to hear that same spark for his home town alive and kicking. “I am a Trivandrumite first and foremost, having spent the first 22 years of my life here,” says Ajay.

The talkative, flamboyant 37-year-old is a former student of St Thomas Residential School, Thiruvananthapuram and graduate in Electronic Engineering from the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. He also has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management – Calcutta and a Masters in Real Estate Development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Ajay is already quite well-known among netizens for his blog, tvmrising.in, where he used to write detailed posts about everything and anything infrastructure- and development-related to the city, from ‘Why Vizhinjam makes all the sense in the world’ to the cinematic extravaganza that is the International Film Festival of Kerala.

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Ajay insists that his passion for all things Thiruvananthapuram is not only what tipped the scales in favour of the city, when Taurus Investment Holdings, a Boston-based global private equity firm, decided to kick start its first project in India. “The capital city has a strong service sector-oriented economic base, a lot of skilled workers and relatively well developed infrastructure,” explains Ajay.

Thiruvananthapuram, he goes on to explain, has many features that make it a sought-after destination by employers, millennials and investors. “Cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Austin in Texas and Munich are strongly based on the knowledge economy, with great educational and research institutions, lots of smart, young people and an established ecosystem of service-oriented industries such as technology, life sciences, media, tourism, health care, education and the Government. Thiruvananthapuram has over a dozen truly world-class research institutions, and scores of colleges from where thousands of undergraduates and graduates in a wide variety of subjects emerge every year and it ranks up there with Bangalore and Pune in this regard. Also, the city offers a much higher quality of life than congested metros,” he says.

That said, he admits that the city was not an easy sell to potential investors. “Truth be told, very few smaller cities in India are on the map of most decision makers outside the country. The investment industry has a herd mentality and it is always an uphill battle to convince anyone to risk investing outside the top five or six cities in the country,” he explains, adding that even in mega IT/ITes companies the only notable exceptions are Infosys and TCS, both of which have large campuses in Thiruvananthapuram.

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Apparently, the lack of high quality business and social infrastructure in Tier II cities hampers the expansion of multi-nationals into these places. “We are looking to address this gap with our project. There has been very little to no destination marketing of Thiruvananthapuram and this has made it a exhausting task to build awareness and interest in the mind of potential occupiers of office space. But then, we love challenges!”

With the acquisition of the around 20 acres of land for the project in the coming month, Taurus will have achieved a major milestone.

Ajay says he’s relishing the bumpy road ahead. “While we have already completed the concept design and master plan for the project and also ticked off some of the key approvals needed to commence development, the devil is often found hidden in the details. Building five million sq.ft. is never a simple task anywhere, be it in the capital city, Istanbul or New York. Developing the largest single phase development in Kerala will definitely present a challenge,” he says, signing off as the coos of his one-year-old daughter, Ava, capture his attention.

Short takes

Ajay is married to Viji Krishnan, a management professional. The couple enjoy travelling and watching movies and are huge fans of Game of Thrones. Ajay’s fondest wish is to “be a part of the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universe.”

He is also into reading and enjoys sci-fi, thrillers and non-fiction relating to military history, engineering and contemporary geopolitics. Ever since moving to Boston six years ago, he’s become a fan of the American NFL team New England Patriots.

Article Courtesy: The Hindu

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The Century Old Living Rubber Tree in Thiruvananthapuram!

Natural Rubber tree or Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis – Family Euphorbeaceae) is originally a native to Amazon and Orinoco river basins in Brazil and Bolivia in South America. But since it tends to be attacked by a fungal disease in South America, rubber is not produced in significant amounts there. It was Sir Henry Vickham successfully introduced the Natural Rubber tree or Para rubber from the Amazon forests of Brazil to South East Asia. The Commercial cultivation of natural rubber in India started in the Southern State of Kerala in 1902.

But the first ever living rubber tree came to the capital city of Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram in 1880 as a gift from the Britishers to the then Raja of Travancore, His Highness Visakham Thirunal Ilaya Raja. The photograph below shows the century old (approximately 137 year old) rubber tree growing luxuriously in the premises of Thiruvananthapuram Museum.

Photograph by Chetan KarkhanisImage Courtesy: Sandeepa Chetan’s Travel Blog

About 90 percent of the world’s rubber is produced in south and southeast Asia, where its commercial cultivation began a century ago. The Periyar Syndicate, a European venture, began the first rubber plantation near Aluva in Kerala in 1902 with seeds brought from Brazil. India is the sixth largest producer after Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. In India, Kerala alone accounts for 80 percent of the country’s rubber, followed by Tripura and other states.

Article Courtesy:

  1. Shri. Nazeer M.A, Retd. Joint Director, Rubber Research Institute of India
  2. First Post Media

 

 

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Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram to be blind-friendly

The 188-year-old Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram, one of the oldest book houses in the country will soon have a separate wing for visually challenged bibliophiles. An exclusive ‘Braille wing’ will be opened soon adjacent to the main library building, located in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city, as part of the authorities’ plans to make the 19th century institution differently-abled friendly. Popularly known as ‘Trivandrum Public Library,’ the heritage structure, housing one of the finest collections of rare titles starting from 16th century, was established in the year 1829.

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According to authorities, steps are already on to convert a room of the three-storey new building, being set up in front of the heritage Gothic style main structure, into the Braille wing. The Braille wing is envisaged to provide all modern amenities to help make visually impaired visitors comfortable. State librarian P K Sobhana said they would join hands with various outfits and organisations including Dehradun-based National Institute for the Visually Handicapped and Kerala Blind Association for the initiative.

“Our new building is getting ready. One of the major features of it will be the Braille section. We are planning to open it in a room in the ground floor of the building,” she told PTI. Besides books in Braille format, the new wing would also have an impressive collection of talking and audio books in various languages including English and Hindi besides Malayalam. “We think, the audio books will be more useful for the visually challenged people. Not only that, it will also be a solution for the space constraints issues. Usually Braille books will consume more space which we cannot afford,” she said.

The official said she would soon visit institutions including the National Association for the Blind in New Delhi which offer advanced facilities before giving a final shape to the plan. “In future, we also have plans to prepare audio books in Malayalam with the support of outfits in this regard,” Sobhana added. An integral part of the state’s cultural landscape, the Central Library has over five lakh titles and subscribe 300 periodicals. The book house had amazed several people including world renowned English writer William Somerset Maugham.

Astonished by seeing the wide collection of world classics and continental literature, including his own works there, the writer, during his visit to the princely state of Tranvacore in 1938 had scribbled in the visitors’ book that he was ‘pleased and flattered.’ Historians say, the library was ordered to be set up in 1829 by the Travancore royal Swathi Thirunal and renamed as State Central Library in 1958. Interestingly, the visionary ruler took the initiative to build one of the first public libraries in India, before even the famed Imperial Library of Calcutta was established.

The task of organising the library was assigned to Col Edward Cadogan, the then British Resident and the grand son of Sir Hans Sloan, the founder of British Museum. The library was shifted to the present building in 1900 under the reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal, who built a structure of architectural beauty in the Gothic style in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. While the Public Library was handed over to University of Travancore in 1938, it was taken over by the government in 1948 after a resolution was passed by State Legislature.

The library, in the year 1988, was granted the status of a minor department under the administrative control of Higher Education Department with the State Librarian as its head.

News Courtesy: The New Indian Express

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A.R Rahman Visited Thiruvananthapuram Silently!

When Thiruvananthapuram city was engrossed in the visit of Sultan Bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the Emir of Sharjah, another Sultan, but this time of music, quietly made a quick trip to Thiruvananthapuram city last Monday. Yes, it was none other than A.R Rahman, the Mozart of Madras. A.R Rahman made his way to MANDERLAY, a stately house at Poojappura, when he came visiting his close friend and former bandmate John Anthony of Karnatriix.

28tvmrahmanImage Courtesy: Karnatriix John Anthony Facebook Profile

All is hush on what the visit was about but music must have been on their mind when they tuned in after a long time as John says in his Facebook post: ‘cAtchIng uP afTer quiTe sOmeTime & hAd loTsss tO cAtch Up ……..😜 ‘. The ace guitarist also put up a photo on his wall of the two men in black exchanging notes in his garden.

Sivamani, A.R. Rahman, the late Jo Joo and John had formed a band, Roots, which had rocked Chennai when it was formed in the Eighties. They jammed with all kinds of musicians, including Carnatic musicians like T.V. Gopalakrishnan and Kadri Gopalnath. But once A.R Rahman, then Dileep, got his first movie, the band moved on to a new groove.

As always, it is learnt that A.R Rahman prayed at Beemapally mosque before leaving Thiruvananthapuram city on the same day. Some photographs that found their way to Facebook are the only signs of the maestro’s visit to Thiruvananthapuram city!

News Courtesy: “The Hindu”

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