Kaleidoscope: The Malayalam novel by Shahnas M.A. enters second edition after the release on October 13, 2018 

Kaleidoscope Malayalam novel by Shahnas M.A.

Young writer Shahnas M.A. is in cloud 9 as her debut Malayalam novel Kaleidoscope is going for second edition within a month of its launch on October 13, 2018.

Author, Editor of a Book Publishing firm Basho Book Publishing, Social Worker, Associate Director of a Short Film in Malayalam called #MeToo, working mother and a post graduate in Commerce and B.Ed. in the same subject, Shahnas M.A. will inspire awe.

The young and upcoming author Sahanas M.A is literally in Cloud 9, as her debut Malayalam novel, Kaleidoscope is going for the second edition, within a month of its release. Kaleidoscope was launched on October 13, 2018 at KP Keshava Menon Hall in her native town of Kozhikode (Calicut). Kaleidoscope was well received by the Malayalam literary world. As for her family, her husband is a gynaecologist and working in Government service and the couple have a young daughter.

Shahnas M.A., the author of her debut Malayalam novel, Kaleidoscope.

While speaking about the novel, Shahnas M.A. says, “Kaleidoscope is a Malayalam novel written in a feminist perspective. As a woman, I can clearly understand the issues faced by women in the society. The novel progresses through the protagonist Durga, a bank official, seen through a Kaleidoscope and I was standing behind that and writing the stories.”



Kaleidoscope, the debut Malayalam novel by author Shahnas M.A., published by Basho Books, where she is also the Editor.

Kaleidoscope was released by M. Mukundan, one of the leading cult figure of the Malayalam literary world and the author of all time classic, Mayyazhipuzhayude Theerangalil, wring about the French colony of Mahe, where he belonged to.

Malayalam writer M. Mukundan handing over a copy of Kaleidoscope to Malayalam film actress Anumol on October 13, 2018 in Kozhikode as others look on.

M. Mukundan handed over a copy of Kaleidoscope to Malayalam film actress Anumol at an event attended by literary stalwarts like Iqbal, Supi and others.

Author M.Mukundan released the Malayalam novel, Kaleidoscope, written by Shahnas.M.A.

While releasing Kaleidoscope, M. Mukundan had spoken high about the novel and its author and analysed the new pattern of novel writing. After releasing Kaleidoscope, M. Mukundan said, “Books are not born alone. Along with the book an author is also getting born. Now with the release of Kaleidoscope, a book is born, also a female writer too is born. We can be glad about that. ”

“These are the times, where there are lot of writers. Lot many people are writing. Writing has become more democratic now. The fact that many people are writing is a feel good factor, nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that all the books that are published are not good either. We are aware of it. Just a while ago we were in Mathrubhoomi office and Iqbal and I were talking about it. Although there are many books that are getting published, those books that are enjoyable and those which are excellent ones are between far and few”, M. Mukundan lamented.

Lauding Kaleidoscope

Shahnas M.A., the author of Malayalam novel, Kaleidoscope.

While lauding Kaleidoscope, Mukundan said, “Kaleidoscope was published just a while ago. But before the release, it is not advisable to read any book beforehand. But, I had the good fortune and misfortune of reading the manuscript of Kaleidoscope. So, the good fortune is that I can talk in length about the book with great sense of pride.”

Quality of writing and publishing

“At a time when loads of weeds (read books) that are mushrooming in our literary horizon, Kaleidoscope is positioned in a very high pedestal. Kaleidoscope is a small book where lot of flowers bloom. Among the increasing weeds, I am lauding Shahnas M.A. for offering us a flowering plant. I also congratulate Basho Book Publishers for bringing out the book in a qualitative and aesthetic manner. I have got connection with Basho, as its first Award was conferred to me. I have received the Basho Literary Award from the very same hall. Moreover, Basho is going to publish my new book in the near future. So, there is always this connect between us and that relationship is growing steadily. The relationship which I started off with Basho has now been extended to Shahnas. I do not know who is going to talk more about this book. I think that Dr. Iqbal will speak in length about this book as he is the key speaker”, Mukundan said.

I felt Kaleidoscope very different from ordinary books. Initially, while reading throughout the book the reader will get confused. Another peculiarity of Kaleidoscope is that no story is conclusive and have permanence. The characters aren’t conclusive either. The situations are not conclusive, while the interpretations are not conclusive. So, everything in Kaleidoscope is inconclusive. Shahnas M.A. concludes the novel with all these in-conclusions”, Mukundan pointed out about the technique the
author had employed in a systematic perspective, only seasoned writers like him can do so with aplomb.

Gist of Kaleidoscope

While giving the gist of Kaleidoscope, its characters and how the story evolves, Mukundan said, “The protagonist Durga is a bank employee and a literary figure rolled into one. I know such a person in Kozhikode and that is why I was looking around whether she is present here. That is none other than KP Sudheera. I thought, she was around. She is a bank official as well as a literary figure. Expect for the similarity of the professions, there is no apparent connection or parallel between Durga and Sudheera. Durga is a totally different character. Durga’s life has been repeatedly been scrawled by Shahnas M.A. and is not been told in totality. Precisely, I
felt that aspect very interesting. Nothing has been told in a conclusive way. Going back to Durga’s childhood, her parents have three female children.

Shahnas M.A., the author of Kaleidoscope, portrays various emotional shades of a woman through her protagonist, Durga.

The author writes that Durga was brought up like a boy. Durga used to wear shoes, pants due to her parent’s insistence, while the other two siblings wore only silk gowns and grew up like any conventional girls did. Shahnas M.A portrays the uneasiness and the disenchantment of Durga for their parent’s decision to make her grow like a boy in a touching and poignant way. The novel starts with the childhood days of Durga. Later the incidence that creates shock in us is the fact that right in front of the three daughters, the mother gets married to another person and goes away. Neither do Shahnas reveal where the new couple were heading to nor with whom the mother goes with
and this in-conclusiveness make Kaleidoscope all the more enjoyable. Even this information is more than enough for us, before that itself we are already in a state of shock. Then the book deals with Durga’s professional life and the occupational hazards.”

#MeToo Element

While touching upon Shahnas’ writing about #MeToo movement, the coinage had not gained credence, when she wrote Kaleidoscope. “Also, interestingly the #MeToo factor
also appears in Kaleidoscope. When Shahnas was writing this book, the #MeToo movement was unheard of. Precisely for that reason, the book has got contemporary relevance. There is an Assistant Manager in this novel, who used to torment Durga by throwing amorous glances at her and passing lewd comments. That touched me a lot. The subject we discuss (#MeToo) now had already appeared in Kaleidoscope.”

In a jocular vein, Mukundan remarked with the crowd bursting into laughter: “I wonder whether Durga will sue the Assistant Manager on #MeToo charges as we live  in an age of #MeToo. Mukundan was of the opinion that the laws must be made stringent to hear the cases of #MeToo victims and added that it was unfortunate to note that two decades’ later, the harassment cases are coming up. The laws should be made that in three weeks the cases relating to #MeToo should be disposed off.

Malayalam Film Actress Anumol and Shahanas M.A. at the launch of the novel.

“I have a small suggestion. As actor Anumol is also sitting on the dais I will talk in the cinema industry perspective. Supposing if I write a screenplay and give it to a Director of a film, he or she has to make the film within three years, failing which I can take back the right (Was Mukundan hinting at the recent MT Vasudevan Nair’s Rendamoozham fiasco?). Similarly, in #MeToo too such a rule should come. The victim should not be suing the abuser after twenty years. Even three years should not be given. At least, to make a movie there are lot of constrains and work involved, lot of finance need to be invested, lot of technological rigmaroles are involved. So, three years we can give for the Director to make a film after the transfer of the screenplay. But in the case of #MeToo, we need not allow 20 years.”

Peculiarities of Kaleidoscope

Besides her mental and physical issues, Durga is also peculiar on another count. For the guests at home, she serves tea, but she takes only warm water. I don’t know whether Shahnas does the same. Like that, there are lot of peculiarities pronounced in that character called Durga. Therefore it is cumbersome to write like a full- scale story in a linear way. That method is not deployed in Kaleidoscope, which is replete with several images. That is why, the earlier speaker, Supi had said in his speech that it was written in the format of looking through the prism of the Kaleidoscope.

Young and upcoming Malayalam writer, Shahnas M.A.

Mukundan continued, “Only in the end, the crux of the matter is revealed. When I completed each story, I used to wonder that the author did not say anything conclusive, nothing is clear and even the interpretation too was not clear. At the denouement of Kaleidoscope, another character props from nowhere, who is Durga’s uncle. He was no where there in the beginning and his character ends with his death.

I got terribly confused. Only then I realised that we are not seeing these characters directly and we are looking at these characters through the Kaleidoscope. So, Shahanas is the first lady in the world to write a novel looking through the Kaleidoscope. If we are to write, we have to see things. Seeing we can do it in different ways. We can take a peep from up above the sky sitting in an aircraft or we can write in the genre of James Joyce.

So, there are many ways where we can write. If you see in the present times, authors write in local dialect. Shahnas has seen through the Kaleidoscope and used it as her pen or the computer keyboard and had written this book. So, it is actually, the Kaleidoscope which is telling the story and Shahnas is merely standing behind that jotting down her observations seen through the Kaleidoscope. And that is why we feel the imperfection. When we realise the apparent thought behind it, Kaleidoscope is an un-put-downable book. I did not keep the book down as I sat and read Kaleidoscope in one go. The sad part is that when I read it, Kaleidoscope was not in book form. I got to read only Shahnas’ manuscript.”

Books have life

Stating that the books are not deadwood, Mukundan went on to add, “Book has its own charm. When I get a new book, what I usually do is to touch and feel the book for a while and get the aroma of the book by smelling it. Note books are like that. Even now, the most favourite book I keep it on my chest and sleep. That habit I had developed from age 12. Even now, if I get the favourite book, I will keep on reading it and then I will place it on my chest and dose off. A book is not merely to be
read and thrown. Book has certain fragrance and when you flip the page there is peculiar resonating twitch to it. When we touch and feel, the paper of the book has a certain rough surface. So, book has life in it.

Books have its own fragrance. It has feelings. Book is not a dead wood. It is organic and has life. Apparently, I did not get all those things from Kaleidoscope as I only had the manuscript from Shahnas. Now that I will read it again in this complete book form. Only then, I think, I will be able to read it with more enjoyment. As I said earlier, Shahnas, the writer is born. Similarly, Basho is also born. Hope Basho will publish good books like Kaleidoscope, going forward.”

Importance of writing continuously

While emphasising the need for authors to keep themselves engaged in writing one book after the other, without losing focus on the stories they weave in their minds, Mukundan said, “Shahnas need to think of writing another book and she needs to think of the subject right away. The issue with us (writers) is the forgetfulness. If we write a book and then leave it, we will never be able to write another one anytime soon. The best thing to do is to publish one book and then think of the next story and embark on writing and finishing the book eventually. If earlier, there were only few writers and hence we we able to remember those stories. As at the contemporaneous times, the sheer number of books that are getting published are also high, so that remembering each and every story is a cumbersome process.”

Momentous Occasion in Shahnas’ Life

About the launch of Kaleidoscope Shahnas M.A. says, “It was not a planned book launch in that strictest term, as I was feeling scared of showing my manuscript of Kaleidoscope to any renowned authors as it was my first attempt to write a book. I was sure that the book I wrote is not a classic work. I started writing these stories on the social media platform, Facebook since 2015, all the stories elicited humongous response from my friends, who encouraged me to compile the stories and publish the same in the book form. When I decided to compile all short stories and publish it my confidence level was at its lowest ebb. Being the Editor of the Kozhikode based Basho Book Publishers, I had to visit Mukundan’s residence as we are publishing his latest novel.

I have great adoration for the writer. He and his wife treated me like a daughter and we discussed many contemporary issues that are plaguing the society. Then I asked the author, whether he can release my book after reading the manuscript and whether he can release the book. I dropped this bombshell with lot of anxiety.

Young writing sensation, Shahnas M.A., riding on the success wave of her Malayalam debut novel, Kaleidoscope.

Although, Mukundan accepted my manuscript, but he was non- committal about taking part at the release of Kaleidoscope. I was nevertheless still feeling the jittery about the reaction that is likely to elicit from him after reading Kaleidoscope. Mukundan, having finished reading the manuscript of Kaleidoscope, called me up and told me to fix the date of the launch and he also agreed to attend the event. My joy knew no bounds and I was in cloud nine. Even when I met Mukundan at the book release function, the author did not utter a word to me about the book and when he was speaking at the launch he was literally lauding my effort in bringing out this book, only then my panic evaporated and my excitement grew. That was the most momentous and blessed moment of my life.

Formula for Foreword

Tradition blended with modernity, young writing sensation, Shahnas M.A., the author of Malayalam novel, Kaleidoscope.

Dr. B. Iqbal, the writer, critique and orator had written the foreword in Kaleidoscope. I met Dr. Iqbal during a book release function. Although, I have heard about him a lot, but that was the first time I was meeting him in person. He is a great orator and thinker, known only through media reports. But when I met him in person and heard him speak I was in fact flabbergasted. I initially thought I can publish Kaleidoscope without a foreword as I was too scared to ask Mukundan for writing a foreword as well for Kaleidoscope in addition to the book release. In the meantime, I had sent the manuscript to Dr. Iqbal to get feedback. But then I was empowered to ask Dr. Iqbal to write a foreword for my novel. Dr. Iqbal surprised me by agreeing to write a foreword for Kaleidoscope within two days. To my dismay, Dr. Iqbal promptly wrote a beautiful foreword for Kaleidoscope and I am all the more happy about it. My biggest blessing is that in that foreword Dr. Iqbal had mentioned me as the next generation author following the footsteps of the earlier generation writers.”

About Basho

“For those who are not familiar with the word Basho, the name derives from a Japanese Haiku poet. It is the newest publishing house operating from Kozhikode, which is less than year young. We have published ten books so far and ten more are in the pipeline. We are getting lot of publications and equal number of writers too are approaching us. We encourage budding writers, although established writers too approach us. Incidentally, the promoter of Basho is also Iqbal. K.C. Iqbal is from Perambra in Kozhikode, who is an NRI. He is also a writer and lover of books. That is why, even though, Iqbal is living outside India, he has entrusted everything pertaining to the publishing house to me. As the Editor of Basho, I take care of the key aspects of the publishing house”, Shahnas added.

In an exclusive interview given to The Indian.News, Shahnas M.A. speaks to the Editor, Jayashankar Menon on Kaleidoscope and other aspects of her passionate areas and
more. Excerpts.

Shahnas M.A., the author of Kaleidoscope, the fast selling Malayalam novel speaks to The Indian.News Editor, Jayashankar Menon, in an Exclusive Interview.

TIN: The name of the novel itself is fanciful, Kaleidoscope. Why is that so?

SMA: I have written this novel, Kaleidoscope consisting of 16 chapters. I have written about many issues happening in and around our society in many of these stories. The name Kaleidoscope was not a pre-planned one. It so happened when I was about to finish the novel, I felt Kaleidoscope would be just the right name for my novel and each story is slightly inter-connected, yet like what you see through the Kaleidoscope, when you see many bangle pieces with various hues and colours, each character in each story stand out. That is how the name Kaleidoscope was chosen. I have been getting this question from several people about choosing the name Kaleidoscope for my novel. Even Mukundan, while speaking at the release function of the book had mentioned that I have become the first author to write a novel by looking at Kaleidoscope. Each story has its relevance in the environment I live and the incidents are based on the happenings in our neighbourhood.

TIN: Your academic qualifications suggest you should ideally be taking up either a teaching profession or get into a career in the corporate world. Instead, you chose
writing as your passion and took up a job of Editor in Basho. Can you explain the paradox?

SMA: Actually, I started writing stories from 2015. I am there in many of the literary groups. I got constructive criticism and encouragement from these groups, which actually inspired me to write this novel. When I started writing on the social media, I did not write with the aim of bringing out a book, as my stream of vocation was Commerce. I finished my post graduation and B.Ed. in Commerce. I was about to choose the teaching segment. At young age itself, I had the habit jotting down the happenings on my diary.

That way, the flair for writing started off during my student days itself. But that remained on the dairy itself. Ever since 2015, I started writing in social media and then when I got an opportunity to work as an Editor in this publishing house, my job was to go through scores of manuscripts, edit those and publish them. Naturally, I was getting accustomed to many styles of writing, which gave me the confidence of compiling all that I had written on social media platforms and bringing out a book.

Whenever, each single book that got published through our publishing house, it was a dream come true for me and I used to feel that it was my publications that were getting published. But when I joined this publishing house and after publishing almost ten books, that gave me the idea of collating all the stories I had written so far into one book and that was how Kaleidoscope came into being. The main trigger point to bring out this novel is the fact that even if I leave this publishing house, I should leave an indelible mark that prompted me to bring out this novel.”

TIN: Is there any parallel between Shahnas and Durga?

SMA: My personal life does not come in any of these stories. Nevertheless, I have added many incidents that happened among those close to my circle in many of these stories.

TIN: What is the kind of encouragement you received from social media platforms?

SMA: I always received tremendous encouragement for my stories which I wrote on the social media platforms and when the book form came into being, then too around 250  copies of Kaleidoscope were bought by my friends from the same groups. If you can visit my Facebook page, you will get to know the kind of encouragement I get for the book. We published Kaleidoscope on October 13 and we are going for the second edition.

You can as well imagine the kind of response I get from my friends. After the launch, you should see the number of reviews I had received on my page and that had helped me exhaust all the copies we had printed. My next project is to bring out a compilation of stories. Right now I am working on the project. As an Editor of a publishing house I get other manuscripts as well to read and fine tune them into publishable format. So, I am juggling between my professional commitment and the new project, at the same time I am thrilled and more encouraged to see the response Kaleidoscope has elicited, especially for the fact that it is going for a reprint as part of the second edition.

TIN: What was your trigger point to meet Sarasa Balussery and write about her? Also talk about your journalism endeavours…

Shahnas M.A., the journalist interviewing, Sarasa Balussery, the actress who impressed in the Malayalam movie, Sudani from Nigeria, with her performance as a mother character.

SMA: I loved the Malayalam film, “Sudani from Nigeria” because there was a subtle message for the society that being humane is beyond religion, politics, colour and boundaries. After watching that movie, what surprised me was the actress who portrayed the mother character. As I was seeing her for the first time on screen, I never felt that she was doing a cameo role, rather I felt she was a seasoned artist, the way she enacted with her emotions and affections. This mother character struck a chord and immediately found a place in my heart. Then I started inquiring about her. When I got to know that her name was Sarasa Balussery from my own hometown of Kozhikode, I felt like inquiring more about her and to reach out to her. I finally met Sarasa Balussery and found to my dismay that she was a seasoned theatre artist and had won several accolades including state award. I really wanted to highlight her and bring her into the limelight, so that more people from our society can understand about this artist and acknowledge her contribution. Subsequently, I interviewed her in detail and wrote an article on her in Mahila Chandrika Malayalam magazine.

TIN: Also you had written an article in Kanyaka Magazine about the singer Aswathy Sanju, a Malayalee girl, who renders Rabindranath Tagore’s Rabindra Sangeeth in Bengali. Can you elaborate on that?

SMA: Even while she is preserving Malayalam in her heart and tongue, the Kolkatta-born singer, Aswathy Sanju is touring the length and breadth of the country by rendering Rabindra Sangeeth, written and composed by the Nobel Prize winning Litterateur, late Rabindranath Tagore, an unique composition, with her mellifluous voice.

Malayalee Singing Sensation, Aswathy Sanju, amazes the world by rendering Rabindra Sangeeth in perfect Bengali diction.

The singer says that by singing in a perfect Bengali diction with magnificent composition, Malayalees have started receiving it like as if they were under the wet spell of rain. When asked to explain as to why Aswathy chose Tagore’s poems and how did she choose this genre of music, she told me that Rabindra Sangeeth, written and composed by Tagore, which is the fundamental variant of Indian musical culture, rendered in a mellifluous and emotional way.

Nobody will be there who will not surrender to the incomparable attraction of Rabindra Sangeeth. Not a single Bengali will be there who is not influenced by Rabindra Sangeeth. Tagore is poet who had influenced the Bengali life. Even the ordinary people will always be singing this song. Even among the new generation Bengalis, the verses of Tagore are close to their hearts. As Aswathy, hailing from Kochi and living in that city now, grew up in Kolkata, she could comprehend the power and aesthetics of Rabindra Sangeeth at a tender age itself. I met her at her Kochi residence for this interview.

Ayo re piya

Day 15 : We give you two young talent artists Aswathy Sanju & Srinath Nair with a beautiful song sung by them. A small description about the singers:Aswathy Sanju: Born in Kolkata, into a family where music was given prime importance, Aswathy started learning Carnatic classical music at the tender age of 5 and thereafter started to learn Hindustani classical music from the age of 16. She completed her ‘Visharad’ under Calcutta University and then, masters in Hindustani Classical Music from Rabindrabharati University, Kolkata. She has been a regular performer at various concerts and programs organised by several Malayalee organisations in Kolkata and Kerala. Besides, she is a student of eminent Hindustani Classical vocalist, Smt. Leena Chakraborty, from Calcutta, under whose guidance, she got the privilege to take lessons for more than ten years and currently, she is a student of vocalist, Shri Shirshendu Mukherjee. She has got the privilege to perform with eminent artists like Shri Kaithaparam Damodaran Namboodiri, music directors, Debojyoti Misra and Ratheesh Vega, featuring in their live concerts. She has been a regular performer for popular malayalam channels like ‘Kerala Vision’, ‘Kappa TV’ and ‘Kairali WE’. Currently, she is putting up performances in Kerala, emphasizing more on ‘Rabindrasangeet’, ‘Nazrul Geeti’, light classical music and old Malayalam hits.Srinath Nair: Srinath hails from a family inclined towards music. He started learning Hindustani classical vocal music at a very young age, from Smt. Leena Mukherjee for 8 years and currently, seeking guidance from Shri Shirshendu Mukherjee. He started learning the keyboard when he was seven years old, at the Calcutta School of Music, and is currently mastering the art of playing the piano, under the guidance of Mrs.Chaitali Ganguly. He specialises in, Indian classical, semi-classical, Ghazals, light Bollywood and Malayalam, genres of music. His unique improvisation skills and his artful display of ‘Sargam geet’ in any song earn him repute everywhere. He has also been a part of various instrumental music collaborations, as a keyboardist; specialising in classical fusion, jazz funk and jazz blues.Song : Ayo re piya (Bandish based on Raag Yaman)Vocals : Aswathy Sanju, Srinath NairTabala : Sameel SikkaniGuitars : Sandeep MohanDrums & Bass : Aswin SivadasMusic Design : Ranjith MeleppatRecorded by : Sai PrakashMix & Mastered : Hari ShankarMusic Production : My Studio, CochinCamera : Thomas Arthat, Sai PrakashEditing : Sajeesh NamboodiriP.S : Check out our wall for our updates and bites from our well wishers and join us in our celebrations.#music #mystudio #2ndannivesary Reach us : +919745866661Like us : www.facebook.com/mystudiocoSubscribe us: www.youtube.com/mystudioco

Posted by My Studio on Sunday, 15 November 2015

Aswathy Sanju was born in Kolkata, into a family where music was given prime importance. Aswathy started learning Carnatic music at the tender age of five and thereafter started to learn Hindustani music from the age of 16. Aswathy completed her ‘Visharad’ under Calcutta University and then, masters in Hindustani Classical Music from Rabindrabharati University, Kolkata.

A regular performer at various concerts and programmes organised by several Malayalee organisations in Kolkata  (including Kokata Kairali Samajam) and Kerala, Aswathy is also a student of eminent Hindustani Classical vocalist, Leena Chakraborty, from Kolkata under whose guidance, she got the privilege to take lessons for more than  a decade and currently, the gifted singer is a student of vocalist, Shirshendu Mukherjee.

Aswathy Sanju, the Malayalee singing sensation, who renders Rabindra Sangeeth in perfect Bengali diction.

Aswathy Sanju has was honoured to perform with eminent artists such as Kaithaparam Damodaran Namboodiri, music directors, Debojyoti Misra and Ratheesh Vega, featuring in their live concerts. Aswathy Sanju has been a regular performer for popular Malayalam channels like ‘Kerala Vision’, ‘Kappa TV’ and ‘Kairali WE’. Currently, the vocalist is putting up performances in Kerala, emphasising more on ‘Rabindra Sangeet’, ‘Nazrul Geeti’, light classical music and old Malayalam hits.

“Even when Malayalam fill our house, probably because of the environment which I grew, it is quite natural that I might have got inspiration on the musical aspect of my life. Through Rabindranath University when I learnt Hindustani Music, perhaps, due to the intense training I received from the seasoned vocalists I could comprehend the nuances of Rabindra Sangeeth, perhaps I was also able to comprehend the difference of this music from other genres, that attracted me a lot”, Aswathy told Shahnas.

To another query as to what was the reaction of the Kolakata crowd, when Aswathy rendered the Rabindra Sangeeth, which was close to every Bengali’s heart, the singer told Shahnas this particular genre was liked by the audience whichever stage she occupied. Nevertheless, Aswathy had her own fair share of apprehension that being a Malayalee, whether the Bengalis would like her voice.

Moreover, wherever she renders Rabindra Sangeeth, along with the diaspora Malayali crowd, the Bengali audience too encouraged her and accepted her. She is constantly trying to bring about some kind of novelty through this genre of music. The most important thing for Aswathy is the recognition of the Bengalis about her singing ability.

What is more, I always wanted to encourage those who do music differently and write about them. That is how I came to know about this girl. I wrote that article in Kanyaka Malayalam weekly.

TIN: How you were involved with social work by liaising with the government and reaching out the physically challenged people and help them to get pension?

Shahnas and other volunteers receiving appreciation from Kerala CM, Pinarayi Vijayan.

SMA: Kozhikode district collector U.V. Jose, IAS announced a District Collector Compassionate Internship Programme (DCAP). The rationale behind this Programme was to invite youth who have social service bend of mind and offer them this Internship. I joined the Internship, along with eleven others under the District Collector’s initiative.

It was during the Internship time that there were grievances from many physically challenged people in Kozhikode district that many of them never got the certificates. Unless they get certificate after cross-checking the veracity of their claim, these people will not get monthly pension from the government under the quota. There was a huge backlog of applications at the district administration’s office.

We organised 28 camps in four days. We were able to verify and process 3,500 applications during this time. Most of them are from very poor background and are solely dependent on these certificates to get a measly pension that would at least take care of a square meal. Getting the certificates was a nightmare for the poor handicapped persons. They were get attestations from four doctors stating that they have physical handicap. We helped these people to get the requisite attestation from the doctors and managed to give them the certificates from the the district administration. That was the job I had done with immense joy. I still continue to do my bit of social service in my limited way.

TIN: You have also equally passionate about film direction as you have worked in a short film called #MeToo as Associate Director. Can you speak about the experience
you gained?

Shahnas M.A., who also worked as Associate Director in a Malayalam short film, #MeToo.

SMA: I was always wanting to learn the craft of direction. As part of fulfilling my passion, I got an opportunity to work in this short film as Associate Director. It was a great experience and a learning curve to know the nuances of film making. Hopefully, one day, if I feel like making a film on the empowerment of women or pertaining to any social maladies, the experience I had gained from #MeToo short film will come handy.