We were entering a lion’s den, and there were a few questions in hand for the lion himself! I remembered the words of my friend, a playback singer, who had once told me, “Look at him carefully when he speaks. From his expressions you can see Mangalassery Neelakantan, Karthikeyan, and Jagannathan switching over all the time”. We reached half an hour late from the scheduled time. Hence I hoped and prayed that Mundackal Shekharan, the villain, is not the one who opens the door! But what I saw there truly surprised me. Here was a simple man, living in his apartment near Kaloor stadium in Kochi. This guy who hails from Kozhikode is in love with football, cinema and literature.
There was a time when Kodambakkam was the hub for Malayalam cinema. Then it moved to Kochi, and that was when Ranjith also came here. The script for ‘Pranchiyettan and the Saint’ was born in a 3 bedroom apartment that he had first bought. That is when he realized that he needs another apartment to be alone and stay away from hustle and bustle of cinema. Hence, Ranjith bought another apartment close to the first one. “When I used to study at Thrissur School of Drama, I never used to go home during vacations. I have enjoyed my lonely days in that vast hostel. Hence, I thought I need that kind of a place in this city as well,” says Ranjith. Narayani is a very close family friend and just like his sister. Narayani’s husband Anoop is the one who designed the interiors for Ranjith’s apartment. White and coffee brown are Ranjith’s favourite colours, and they have been used abundantly in the house. The apartment is 1200 sq.ft.
Paris, a true experience
When you enter the apartment, you just cannot miss the huge photo of O.V Vijayan hung on the wall. O.V Vijayan is one of foremost people in Malayalam literature. The photo has made an appearance in Ranjith’s movie ‘Spirit.’ A huge fabric sofa is placed in the living room. Furniture in the dining space is made from Mahogany. One can also see a multi-purpose breakfast table that differentiates the dining area and kitchen. Veneer has been pasted with plywood in order to make this table. LED lights are placed on top of the table adding to its beauty.
HDF laminators are seen in the common area. Beauty of the interiors have been kept intact by putting colours that go hand in hand with the walls and furniture One just cannot miss the innovative tube lights that have been put in the kitchen. A glass has been designed as lamp shade for the tube. Above the stove, stone cladding has also been done.
Since Ranjith is living here alone, the apartment is designed as a bachelor pad. Hence, the kitchen is also quite small. The burner is used only to prepare tea. The after effects of a Brazilian tour can be seen on the shelf above the kitchen. Ranjith was one amongst the audience for the last world cup football. He has brought back those memories as show-pieces to decorate his house. Even the ticket he got for the world cup is safe in his house!
“I have always loved travelling. I have noticed the houses in different places across the globe. There is a kind of solitude in the houses in Europe. One cannot differentiate houses of a rich or poor man over there. But houses in the countryside are very beautiful,” says Ranjith.
In between our talks, I noticed a glass statue of the famous Eiffel towers. “This is in memory of Paris”, said Ranjith, taking that glass statue in his hand. “Paris, the city of dreams has always mesmerized me. After a long wait, I finally got to be there. I stayed in a dingy hotel for a week and paid quite a huge amount as rent. Since I was staying in Paris, I did not crib about the inconveniences. It is our attitude that determines the beauty and space of the house we live in,” adds Ranjith with a smile on his face.
Guestroom, a mere joke
There were 3 bedrooms in the apartment. Since one person does not need so much space, two of those bedrooms were demolished to be made into one. This vast room is now being used as the master bedroom. Similarly, two of the bathrooms were also demolished to be made into one. When you stand in the balcony of this room, you get a lovely view of the skies of Ernakulam. Huge buildings stand tall in between the occasional greens! “Now, Malayalis are obsessed with building houses. Most of them build houses just to show-off in front of their neighbours. Guest room is the biggest joke in most houses.
There are many houses where the guest rooms are always vacant due to the owner’s attitude to guests!,” laughs Ranjith, and Narayani too, giggles with him. Even though Ranjith’s scripts have had a pivotal role in bringing the famous Varikkassery Mana in front of the public eye, one cannot see anything traditional inside his apartment. “Cinema and real life are different,” says Ranjith with a smile and continues, “I miss Kerala architecture a lot now. But there is a defect in it. The porch is often huge, but insides are small. Maybe it is because men spend most of the time in these porches, and it is women who spend time inside. If such small errors are rectified, Kerala architecture will always be at its best,” tells Ranjith sitting on his favourite chair.
A Beautiful Life
As per instruction of the owner, the camera lens shifted to the old apartment. All the awards and recognitions that Ranjith has received in his film career are kept in the old apartment. Not many colours are used here. A cylindrical book-shelf placed there will surely catch one’s eyes.
Now let us hear how the famous director spends a day here. “There are two ways in which I spend my days here. The house will be thronged with people if a movie work is happening. From scripting to post-production works, the hustle and bustle will be too much. If there is no work happening, then I and my helper Biju will be alone here. That is when I spend my days lazy and calm! Watching films and reading books are the main activities during that time. I do not spend my time loitering around the city,” says Ranjith.
I wanted to ask him a question, one that has been choking me from inside ever since I entered the house ‘Is this all that is needed in the house of a leading Malayalam director?’. But pat came the reply. “A house becomes beloved to you when your life is beautiful. All the beauty in my life is there in this 1200 sq.ft apartment. That is more than enough”.
Kitchen Craft, Panampilly Nagar
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