Vamadeva Namboothiri from Plakurrussi Illam”, a fictional address that Mohanlal's character made unforgettable in the movie 'His Highness Abdullah'. Well if you wish to see a real 'Plakurrussi Illam' then head to Pandikudi, Kocherimukku in Fort Kochi. A three storey heritage home reminiscent of a bygone era stands proud. Complete with a beautiful Padipura, Mukhamandapam, and Poomukham; all the classical structural elements that make ancient Kerala homes a treat for the eyes.
The filmy story behind the house
Venu, who has been running a cycle workshop in Pandikudi for the past 30 years, is the owner of this lovely home. A passionate Mohanlal fan; the Tharavadu style homes that were made immortal in the star's movies like Devasuram, Aramthampuran, or Ravanaprabhu were etched deep in Venu's mind since long. If he ever built a house, it will be one, like those houses; that was a decision, Venu never backed out from.
Venu had purchased the 6 cents of land near his ancestral property 15 years back, with the hopes of building a home. He could have built an ordinary concrete home back then. But ‘ordinary’ wasn’t his agenda. What he wanted was an extraordinary creation that he could proudly leave behind on earth. A home that inspires awe!
The walls and the ceilings of his home had to be of wood and only wood. Venu knew that buying new wood for this dream to be a reality, was close to impossible due to the huge financial liability. That’s when he decided to go for old wood. It took him 6 long years to get the required wood to start work on his home!
Tales from a 100 homes!
Venu’s quest for the construction materials of his dream home started in 2008. All his Sundays after that were dedicated to go in search of old wood in a mini lorry. Whenever he came across news of old homes being demolished for selling, he would be there in no time. He built a storage rack on his land using steel frames and planks for the safe keeping of materials.His search for old wood took him to places like Ambalapuzha, Alappuzha and Paravur. He brought three Tharavadu style ancient homes on the whole.
All of these houses were around 100 years old, with excellent quality wood works done and it formed a major portion of Venu’s new home. Apart from this, bits and pieces of at least a 100 other houses too. Some cost him lakhs, some as much as Rs.50 and the rest, gifts from his close friends.
With a plan in mind
The construction of the house began on 2nd February 2010, without any concrete plans or estimates, and no help from any architect or engineers.The only plan in Venu’s head was the base. He transferred this onto paper and then there was no looking back. No matter how long he had to wait, he was adamant about getting things done the way he visualized. Many a times, this led to delays in the construction progress.
When he was able to procure certain elements that turned out to be better than what he wanted; the plan was modified accordingly. The wood works were done by Padmanabhan Asari and the mason was Kunjumon. His aides, till the work was completed.
Wooden Planks were used to cover up the concrete pillars that were built for support. All the internal walls were done in this style. Of the 3 floors, only 2 were given a concrete ceiling and this was covered up entirely in wood and a loft area added. The roofing of the third floor is of wood with another loft.
Olden style Terracotta tiles have been used for the living room floor and for the veranda. The rest of the house has red oxide flooring done. The roof tiles used for the house and for the Padipura or gate was from a building of the British Period in Willingdon Island. Whereas most of the furniture and showpieces used inside the house are authentic antique pieces.
No staircase has been provided inside the house. For both the floors, the stairs are outside through the veranda on the right side. In the future if they need to rent out the top floors or for the purpose of any film shooting, this would be more convenient.
Once the house was completed, he gave it a fitting name – Plakurrussi Illam. You ask him, how much the construction cost of this 3000 sq.ft home came up to and he says; It’s not about the money, what matters is satisfaction of a job well done!.
The pieces of old wood is first washed in a Caustic soda solution and then in a diluted solution of Sulphuric Acid. Dirt and paint spots can be removed like this, says Padmanabhan Asari, who had supervised the construction. The wood is then smoothened with sandpaper and polished to bring in a shine. He feels it is always economical to buy the entire house that is up for sale rather than buying in parts.
At a Glance:
a) A new home built off wood from old Tharavadu style houses.
b) The main decorative piece in the living room is a Gramophone that is almost 100 years old.
c) The wood from large and small ancestral homes was used for the construction.
d) Teak, Rosewood & Kambakam wood and 10 other varieties of wood were used. There is not a single piece of new wood.
e) The wooden pot like structure that used to store holy ash or the powdered husk or Ummikiri during the olden times is an attractive element.
f) Venu is just an SSLC degree holder and yet he designed the home himself.
g) A 100 year old Standing Mirror takes a prominent place in the dressing space of the bedroom.