From Basu to pub quizzing: How a doctor got it all right


A young medical student at the Medical College Hospital, Thrissur, with a passion for quizzing, is faced with a challenge - he wants to take part in Quien Sabe (which in Spanish means 'who knows'), the most popular quiz event of the 90s. The young man, Kishore Chandran, walks up to VP Madhavan, a celebrity quizzer then. The latter was looking for a quizzing partner.


Kishore Chandran hesitantly asks the senior if he could be the quiz mate. Dr Kishore Chandran, an accomplished Paediatric Rheumatologist from New Castle, UK now, vividly remembers the volley of questions the latter, now a gastero surgeon at Aswini Hospital, Thrissur, fired at him. "Which athlete was nicknamed 'Skeets' for his fast crawls during childhood," was one of the questions, remembers Dr Kishore Chandran.

"I knew the answer – Renaldo Nehemiah – (ranked number one in the world for four straight years. He is a former world record holder and also the first man to do the 110-m hurdles in under 13 seconds. He later had to quit athletics following his interest in professional football). Madhavan was impressed and I was in," he says with the flourish of a quizzer who has many laurels under his belt.

"So that was my first stint in professional quizzing. We won the qualifying event hands down and got a chance to represent our college. What followed next was the first in the history of that event. The host team reached the finals and finished third. That was the first instance of a host team getting a podium finish. Our team clicked and we travelled across Kerala, winning most of the major quiz events of that time," Dr Kishore Chandran said.

Early years

It was a roller-coaster of a package those days - pre-degree at St Thomas College and medical entrance coaching at the PC Thomas institute. Dr Kishore Chandran secured admission to the medical course at the Thrissur Medical College in the first attempt. "We were six friends, always together at Don Bosco School and all except one got admission for MBBS in Thrissur. We were particular about Thrissur as we were reluctant to part. Also there wasd this special liking for Panchavadyam and Thayambaka and there is no better place on earth than Thrissur," he said.

Basu's allure

The choices were limited those days and Siddhartha Basu's Quiz Time on Doordarshan was weaving an alluring world of its own. It was but only natural for a young quiz enthusiast to trip on it. It was not long before he started attempting questions by himself and also started ascertaining how much he could score. "The score started from 12 of 30 to around 27- 28," he said.

The doctor says he took to Kathakali music at a very young age. Classical music has etched a deep cut of tradition in him. He fondly remembers the long and attentive hours spent listening to Katcheris. His school years, initially at St Paul's and later at Don Bosco, Mannuthy, too were richly embossed by Kathakali Cholliyattams and Mudras. His stay at his aunt's house early on at Kottakkal for schooling chiselled and fine-tuned the artist and connoisseur in him.


The strong teams of that era were Harikrishnan and Manoj Namboothiri from Maharajas; Ramdas and Sreeram from MA College of Engineering, Kothamangalam; Girsh M R and Sudheep from GEC Thrissur. Then there were Devadas Krishnan from MG University Law College; and Madhav R and Ashok Menon from Government Medical College, Kozhikode. Those were the regular winning teams then.

Major quizzing events

The Rotary Club Changanassery organized a regular event; SBT had Intel Teens, Inter Medicos, which we never won and still remain as a regret, he said. "There was an event called Quiz Feast at  St Albert’s College and it carried a good purse as prize. Then, Mind Lore by Chinmaya Ernakulam and quizzes by Dr Fazal Gafoor in Malabar were the other events," he said.

Quiz master's robe

It was a long and tough trudge as it was the pre-LCD projector age. There were no USBs. "I kept video cassettes, spent hours editing the visuals and videos. I had the privilege of conducting some of the most prestigious quizzes of that time. I started with the intra-departmental events at Government Engineering College, Thrissur, went on to do YMCA quizzes, ones at Maharaja's College, Anchorage by CUSAT, and Pinnacle at REC Kozhikode (now, NIT Kozhikode). In 2013, I did a quiz at Jubilee Medical College, Thrissur based on 100 years of Indian cinema. Medical quizzes are another area of interest and I had also conducted many paediatric quizzes for the Indian Academy of Paediatrics," he said.

His comeback to quizzing was last year, with the Nottingham Quiztalgia at Government Medical College, Kozhikode. This vacation, Dr Kishore Chandran did a Kerala Quiz as part of the World’s Biggest Quiz Festival, Reverberate, which happens every year in Kozhikode. It was attached to the Onam celebrations and was titled Nadan Pennum Nattu Pramaniyum, and the Quiz was based on tradition, myth and folklore of Kerala.

Comeback quiz

Dr Kishore Chandran believes that quizzes with Keralite participants must have a range of Kerala-based questions. "I think many of quizzers of this generation prefer not to learn about Kerala; they are more interested in western trivia and corporate stuff," he says.

Many facets

The multi-talented doctor continues his tryst with quizzing. The most interesting facet of this doctor-quizzer is probably the multifarious ways interests and engagements. His kalaprathibha title and interest in light and classical music genres; percussion; and acting  sets him apart.

Dr Kishore Chandran

Dr Kishore Chandran is a table tennis player and a wicket keeper batsman who has never missed watching a Wimbledon final since 1985. He is part of a reputed family of Ayurveda physicians  in Kottakkal.

On a convivial note

The doctor is wary of the unceremonious turn at least some quizzes take. Even at the height of professional acrimony, he says, the quizzers were bound by an unwritten code to shake hands and move on. "But it is so unfortunate to see quizzers of this generation even walk out in between a quiz. That is like insulting a quiz master. There is a decorum you expect, irrespective of how good a quizzer one is. It is a gentleman's agreement," he says.

Pub quizzing

UK has a very active pub quizzing culture. People sit for hours with a mug of beer and do quizzes. "But the problem with me is that I do not mugs up things to win a quiz. I did well in topics that was interesting to me, and I did bad in other topics. I can manage a bit of golf or rugby but it's unthinkable to mug up the list of all Grammy award winners. So, many quizzes in the pub circuit does not suit my taste," he says.

On a note of advice, the new generation quizzers need to just keep their ears and eyes open. That could be vital to keeping information flowing towards one. Dr Kishore Chandran stresses the need to balance all aspects of life and not to forgo one for the other.

So, as we wind up, lets go to the questions for this week. All readers are welcome to give it a shot and win exciting prizes. Send us your answers by mail to: You may also WhatsApp your answers to: 9895316264. Here are the questions:

1. This lady, even though hailed from one of the wealthiest families in her country had several ups and downs in life including failed marriages and was even was found begging for food. Ardent music lover, she was an artist by vocation. With a surname that can be loosely translated into grace, she has lent her name to a brand, much popular across the world for over a century. Which brand?

2. Who or what is being honoured through these commemorative series of stamps?

3. This sculpture is located in a European city that underwent a name change, and is famous for being one among the 3 locations associated with a  ‘product’ made by  this company, whose logo is seen on the right. What is the product in question?

4. What superlative entity featured in many record books is named after this gentleman who is known as the founder of a modern capital city in Asia?

5. The victims of an infamous event of 20th century were watching this musical performance, hours before the event? Which event is in question?

Send your answers via mail or WhatsApp and stand a chance to win exciting prizes. In case of a tie, the early birds will be selected.

Make sure to include your complete name, age, class/course/work details, location and contact number in the entries.

Only ONE entry PER person, multiple entries lead to disqualification.

Answers of First Edition

1. Radio Corporation of America (RCA). The logo that become synonymous to His Masters Voice (HMV). The dog was named Nipper because of its tendency to nip the backs of visitor’s legs.

2. Ctrl + Alt + Delete – Also known as Three Finger Salute

3. Taj Mahal

4. Merlin/Merlin award given to Magicians

5. First Lady IAS Officer (Anna Rajam George Malhotra), who passed away recently

Winners of Quiz 1.0

First : George Zachariah, Govt. Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram

Second : Haardik Butola, X-A Mount Abu Public School, New Delhi

Third : Ashitha S, Providence College, Kozhikode

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