Jamming with Nanjiyamma, cricket with kids: Vijayan shares lockdown experiences

I M Vijayan
I M Vijayan as Maruthan.

Someone who enjoys being surrounded by his loved ones, one of the biggest challenges of lockdown for footballer I M Vijayan was the lack of social interaction with friends and relatives. However, the veteran has been quite enterprising in finding the space during the lockdown to stay healthy and busy.

While the lockdown may have induced boredom and inertia among many, Vijayan, who turned 52 last month, has used this time to tap into his creativity. He has acted in a movie titled 'Mmmmm (Sound of Pain)' a film in Kurumba language spoken by the tribal community in Attapadi. He plays the lead role in the movie which tells the story of a tribal person who ekes out a living by collecting honey. Produced by Sohan Roy, the film is directed by Vijeesh Mani.

In an exclusive chat with Manorama, the former Indian captain talks about his experiences of the lockdown and recalls the days of shooting in a tribal settlement in Attapadi. 

"Last December, I was in Attapadi for 10 days shooting for the film. It was the first movie made in the Kurumba tribal language. I play the role of Maruthan, a traditional honey gatherer. The movie has a strong environmental message as it also talks about the adverse biological effects of cellphone towers. I have also picked up some words and phrases from the tribal language during my stay in Attapadi. 

Nanjiyamma's songs

My family was with me and we stayed near the Siruvani Dam. The weather was chilly and the food was awesome. I also really enjoyed the morning baths in the river. However, the best part was the singing sessions led by folk singer Nanjiyamma. She has written the lyrics and sung for the movie. We used to 'jam' on the set and it was a memorable experience. 

Having a ball

After each day's shoot, I would play with the kids in the settlement. As the courtyard of our homestay was not big enough, we had to content ourselves with playing cricket. After play, the kids would make a beeline for their turn on a tree swing and I would happily rock them. I was really sad to say goodbye to them when the shoot got over. 

Reasons to cheer

On a personal level, I have had two reasons to be happy amid the gloom of COVID-19 pandemic. I was promoted to the post of Assistant Commandant in the Malabar Special Police in February. My son Aromal was the video performance analyst of the newly-crowned I-League champions Gokulam Kerala FC. 

A year without festivities

The pandemic and the resultant lockdown has deprived us of many simple joys. I remained confined to the safety of home during Vishu, Easter, Thrissur Pooram and Eid-ul-Fitr. This is the reality we must accept now. When people invite me to their home to celebrate festivals together, I would tell them jokingly that if I accept their invitation and flout COVID-19 protocols, next year I will have to come in the form of a crow to feed on the 'balipindam'. 

Trust me, we will be able to celebrate festivals with the same zeal and enthusiasm like before when the coronavirus vanishes from the face of the earth. Until then, we will have to stay vigilant and protect ourselves and others.

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