The Actors Talk – Evam Lab


Its time to know a little about a few of our evam Lab actors. Let’s see what Kalesh Ramanand, Bhargav Ramakrishnan aka Baggy, Saadiya Shireen, Arjun Chidambaram and Vikas has to say

  • Why Acting?

Saadiya Shireen: Because I don’t have the brains to be an astrophysicist or the cooking skills to be an ideal housewife. Also, I’m kinda indecisive. So acting seemed to be the best option. 
Seriously though, long story short; I was a shy, friendless kid that fell in love with stage at age 13. That’s it.

Arjun Chidambaram (He listed out his reasons):

A) The possibility of enjoying and experiencing Alternate realities.
B) Good looks should not be wasted.
C) The world needs more jokers

Baggy: Coz pretending to be other people always felt more interesting than anything going on in my actual life.. Seriously speaking though,  I’m just a glory hog. I love being on stage,  It’s where I feel at home the most..

  •  How was your very first audition like?

Vikas: My first audition was for a tamil play called “Bharathi” in which i played the role of a JOKER. I never felt it as an audition, it was easy for me.

Kalesh Ramanand: My very first audition was for a reality talent show for a Tv channel. I was waiting for the whole day for my turn and by the time I was about to get in, I was literally drained out emotionally and physically. Waiting for 12 hours for your turn to come and wondering what would happen, the anxiety and restlessness had taken its toll by then. But how much ever tired you are, somehow an artist comes alive when he’s asked to perform. It was around midnight and I remember I sang a few songs, I acted out a monologue, I recited an improv poem for a situation they gave, I danced for a tamil song that they played. I did everything I could. I had this mad energy in those late hours of the night just because I didn’t want to lose my opportunity. That night I was really proud of myself. Of-course I got selected for the show, but by the time the show ended after few months I realised there was no reality in those reality shows and decided not to waste my time on them again. Lol.


For stage: 2nd standard. Not too great. I ended up playing one of Mother Mary’s donkeys for the annual Christmas play. Fast forward a few years and in 8th I did my first full length play for school. Audition was flawless, if I may say so myself. Hehehehe. I played Robin Hood (mainly because I was in an all girls convent)
For screen: AMAAAAAAAZINGGG!! The director LOVED me, they said they’ll call me back but they didn’t. A month later I found out that the producer rejected me because I wasn’t “hot” enough. Broke my heart. But one day I’ll break his face. WITH MAH FILMZZZZ!!
  • How is the Evam lab rehearsals coming up?

Vikas:  I love my fellow actors.. all are really talented in there own way.. all the improvs so far were brilliant. Looking forward to the show.

Baggy: Working with some of the most fun actors I know in Chennai.. take such fun, crazy, high energy actors in one place and you’re guaranteed to have rehearsals that are a whole lotta fun and completely unproductive..

Saadiya: I love it!! It’s super fun!! Everyone is just the right amount of looney. Honestly, I’m just waiting for the catch. Nothing in this world can be this perfect.

  • Up at the stage on show day, you forget your line and what would you do?

Arjun: React and buy sometime till I get it, improvise.Lets say I forget a line, I will react in silence as the character and look for hints from my co actors. I will communicate my situation subtly to my co actors and improvise with them to get through the situation.Sign language or code words like “oops I did it again” or ” its harder than I thought” would be devised in advance and be my means to communicate to seek support.

Baggy: I never forget my lines, on the rare chance that I do forget my Line, I also forget that I’ve forgotten my line.. So God save my fellow actors!

Kalesh: Well, fortunately that hasn’t happened till now. I’ve mis-placed a prop or I’ve had wardrobe malfunctions etc. This one time during our Bollywood Kee Maa show in Singapore, my pants tore from behind when I did somersault in a scene. But luckily I managed to pull through the climax sequence without no one noticing it. I guess my Co actor Ashank had a hunch because I was walking funnily during the action sequence with him. It was a tedious endeavour on stage but post show we all had a laugh about it. But ya, if I really forget a line then I would probably beat around the bush by saying few lines of my own and by then I would be able to recollect the actual line and eventually manage to give the Co-actor the right cue for his/her line. Obviously I would have given my co-actor, the shock of their lives for a minute as they would be wondering where these new lines come from. Haha!  :P

  •  Pick one of your fellow actor from Evam lab and share the funniest thing u noticed about them at evam lab rehearsals.

Arjun:  1 option not enough

Saadhya – She is always in a parallel universe or in other words spaced out

Shravan and Baggy –  They remind me of a teddy bear siblings. Cute, bubbly and expressive.

Vikas: Cant remember one particular thing. All of us showed our funny side during improvs and games.

Kalesh:  Hmm…I can’t really recollect any one moment. There have been lot of laughter and funny things happening in the past week of rehearsals. But ya, once Amit had given us an exercise where we had to enact like an animal and do one humanly action with it. For eg: I acted like a deer who types the type writer with his horns. So, Akshay acted like a dog and went around smelling everyone and woofing and then went and did the peeing action on the wall and then came and sat down. Everyone clapped and laughed but Amit asked him what was the human element in it. He obviously got carried away with the whole animal act that he had forgotten about the human action. But to his rescue he was smart enough to think and quickly reply “Peeing on the wall was the human element” and everyone broke into a laughter!


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The Hindu Theatre Festival 2016- A recap

Another year goes by and the LIVE from EVAM team has pulled off the 12th Edition of the Hindu Theatre Fest in style. Spanning across Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad over 3 weeks, the Fest hosted 14 shows. Not only did audiences get to watch some of the best English theatre from around the country, but they also had the opportunity to enjoy some quality regional content in the shape of three fabulous Tamil plays in Chennai.

Every year we see wonderful teams coming together in each city, a mix of old and new members, working very hard to make sure it is the smoothest and most fun experience for artists and audiences alike. Here are the teams from Chennai, Hyderabad & Bengaluru.



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The Fest kicked off on 19th August, with plays happening simultaneously in Chennai & Hyderabad seeing over 5000 audiences in a span of 3 days.

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It then moved to the quaint Museum Theatre in Chennai for a weekend of 3 Tamil plays starting 26th August.


Finally, wrapping in Bengaluru at the beautiful Rangashankara theatre starting on 6th September. Despite regional issues, the team was able to pull off a very smooth execution.

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Of course none of this would be possible without the continued support and trust that The Hindu places in us year on year.

As is always with projects of this magnitude, the entire team, although very exhausted, is left with a sudden sense of emptiness, after a month of hard work and long hours. It will be a long wait for next year, but we are sure it will be well worth it.

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First Rush – Alumni Talk!

Evam’s 29th batch of First Rush is happening this weekend at Chennai. Let’s see what our alumni from First Rush club has to say!


Siddhartha Satyabrata Swain, Facilitator at Happy Cow, First Rush (June 2013)

I always wanted to be a performer in front of an audience but the big picture in my mind was i wanted to be an Actor. I had danced, played various instruments, but the only issue was I had never acted in my life. But in India, the states that have strong theatre productions like West Bengal,Kerala, Gujarat,Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu or my own home state of Odisha, they all had one thing in common regarding theatre acting and that is you have to start from the scratch, and to reach to a level where you would have your own production, it would eat up a healthy 2 years of your life and your only glory moments on stage would be static roles like ” A Tree” or ” A Corpse”

But you are really really lucky if you could start your entertainment career through evam’s First Rush like me.
These are the things that First Rush takes care of-
1. They are only looking for the passion to be a performer in you,hence it does not matter if you have performed as an actor before.
2. They will help you set up your own production in 30 days.
3. They will help you build your own team with your batch mates.
4. The best thing is even if this is a group activity, the amount of attention every individual receives is amazing – whether its enhancing your talent, rectifying your acting, or facilitating your inputs.
5. You get to do multiple roles,learn the entire procedure of theatre production- backstage, onstage,makeup,prop design etc.
Trust me with my own experience, all the above mentioned things will happen in your life in the span of 30 days and no one and I mean no one in the entire country will provide you with such assistance and guidance in such a short span of life.
All the best Future First Rushers. May you have glorious career ahead of you.
Akshay Yesodharan, A full time musician, Batch 28th of First Rush


I got to know about First Rush while I was working as a guitarist giving music for a play.The actors there told me about First Rush, and these are guys who are full time actors and are brilliant at what they do. And almost all of them did the workshop at some point in life and they told me how it helped them understand this art form better and I just gave it the “Yeah Yeah!!” and the customary nod as though I knew what they were talking about while I was completely clueless. 

I didn’t have much of an idea as to what I was getting myself into but still I went ahead and signed up and landed at the venue for the first day of the workshop on a hot and bright Saturday morning. Including me there were around 28 people there for the workshop, NONE of the them had any acting background which was a relief because till then I was thinking “I was the only one!!!!”.

I’m sure all of us thought at some point how can someone teach a person how to act over a weekend. But it was all answered by Sunday evening where all of us in different groups had to do a small sketch based on the topic given to us. So basically I met a bunch of strangers yesterday and I was ACTING with them today. And boy did we act. There was a lot of information given to us; a lot of it would’ve been hard to remember but while working as a team with all of them you go through all of it and it stays in your mind for years to come as acting is not just going up on stage or in front of a camera and making faces and delivering the lines given to you. You have to understand and observe each and every little detail of your character and BE a whole new person. You could convince your audience that you are Superman without even flying, there is more to Clark Kent than that. You could be a table and be the best, most beautiful table ever and nobody would question your presence as an object as long as it serves its purpose of getting the message across to the audience. 

Yeah, so… that happened. And after that we were assigned a director and for a month we worked with him and he directed a play for all us which premiered on march 30th, 2016 and from that day we were officially ACTORS, Oh Yeah!!!




Janardhanan Raghavan, Director and a Writer, First Rush (May 2011)

“Tale of a Tall Girl” a play that Evam lab had staged for Short and Sweet festival 2016 was announced as the winner of the festival. All the results were announced except the runner-up play of the festival. The announcer had missed it. I had 2 of my plays in the festival. One that I had directed, written by the person who wrote the very first play that I acted in First Rush and the other that I had written, directed by another First Rush fellow. Both were in the finals of the festival. Both were contesting with 9 other plays in the competition. While I waited for the results I realized evam, that opened me to the world of theatre, the ever so friendly folks, were right behind me giving suggestions and pep-talking for my play all the while. Both my plays won runner-up for the festival. From the shy backstage guy to losing inhibitions and going on stage ready to be anybody I wanted- Life had changed. It is almost 5 years from my First Rush. The rush that I would never forget for the rest of my life.

A play director, a writer, an actor, an executive producer. You could be any or all of these and your gateway to entering the world of theatre is undoubtedly “First Rush”. Not only do you get to go on stage and perform but also you learn the nitty-gritty of live stage productions. And whatever you do during or after your first performance, be assured evam and its people are going to be behind you giving you a push and opening you up to a whole lot of opportunities forever.
First Rush was definitely my window to escape my regular day job and start something so exciting that someday I would end up making a career out of it.
First Rush has most certainly been the best decision of my life till date.
To register for this batch of First Rush , click here–>
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#VISADoubleOK !!

Three months back, our big bad tour of USA – was called off and postponed due to inexplicable problems with the VISA (despite us having visited to perform twice before!) The worst part of it – huge losses, logistical nightmares, severe rearranging of pretty much everything. The best part – we managed to figure all that out, pick ourselves up and get going on the tour just 2 months after.  :-)

So yeah!! The tour that we have all been looking forward kick-started this month! KK and SA’s tour of the USA – #VISADoubleOK. If you are in America, have friends there (if you don’t fall under any of the two categories – WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON EARTH!)

Here are some quick updates about our 40-day tour across “might soon be Trump’s land”

Oh, and a big shoutout to our partners – Prime Media and Maximum Media for helping us make this happen!


That mandatory “naan Amrika ku poren” selfie from the Anna International Airport.


Here’s how the premiere show of #VISADoubleOK went !

And here we go, America! Our standup tour, VISADoubleOK, featuring Karthik Kumar and Aravind SA is coming all over USA Aug-Sep-Oct! Here is the schedule with box-office details. More cities being worked out too! For queries, write to CAN’T WAIT! Book now

1. Aug 26 – Milpitas, CA
2. Aug 27 – San Jose, CA
3. Aug 28 – San Jose, CA
4. Aug 31 – San Francisco, CA
5. Sep 01 – Sacramento, CA
6. Sep 02 – Orange County, LA
7. Sep 03 – Los Angeles, CA – tbd
8. Sep 08 – San Diego, CA
9. Sep 09 – Phoenix, AZ
10. Sep 10 – Seattle, WA
11. Sep 11 – Portland, OR
12. Sep 15 – Dallas, TX
13. Sep 16 – Austin, TX
14. Sep 17 – Raleigh, NC
15. Sep 18 – Houston, TX
16. Sep 22 – Minneapolis, MN – tbd
17. Sep 23 – Chicago, IL
18. Sep 24 – Detroit, MI
19. Sep 25 – Toronto, Canada
20. Sep 28 – New York City
21. Sep 29 – New York City
22. Sep 30 – North New Jersey
23. Oct 01 – Boston, MA
24. Oct 02 – Central New Jersey

More coming soon!

For tickets –>


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What it Takes – The Need to Understand a Firm’s Culture

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Kaushik Palicha, an Entrepreneur, has been associated with evam’s Training Sideways as an investor, director and a mentor.

I must admit, this is a bit weird.

The last time I was so sleep deprived, and excited about something was, in my teens – maybe it was that first crush or something – seems too far away now to remember. And then we grow up, I suppose – evolve, understand, go beyond the first rush & have a sensible approach to things at hand.

Coming to more relevant things, I thought I would write about partnerships – more relevant to our role with Sideways and how we think about the business & the firm. Sideways works with organisations, to work with their most valuable, productive, dynamic, volatile & expressive assets – people. In any phase that an organisation is – whether a start up, growing, mature or decline and looking at new assets, its important that it remains invested in its people and they have clarity about the direction of the organisation, its abilities, challenges and desires – desires being most important. A lot of new gen businesses work through platforms such as town halls, newsletters, open chats & fireside events. Leadership in the firm, especially the decisive leadership, address the organisation – talking about the previous quarter, an event or a product launch – using the platform to weave their thoughts, about where the organisation is going, to get employees thinking. The moment you have a mass thinking process, innovation happens.

As they say – showing up is a good start. Even in the organisation where I work – it was a challenge getting people together, to join in for an event; it was tough to get off the blocks, as to what one should be saying. But eventually, we got it right. If any organisation achieves clarity in communication, on where its going – it makes life simple. The challenge is making it happen. We saw recently the amazing case of the Bansal’s at Flipkart, talking about their mortality & am sure it got people within Flipkart thinking about what matters – also a case of good leadership where the organisation is much bigger than the individual. What the Bansal’s also did was to set focus again on the culture of Flipkart, which was ease of doing business – the E–com model makes is amazingly easy for end users, ease of communication – with open flow emails & leadership reachable, there is always clarity in the decisions made & translated to the lowest levels of the organisation – ensuring the complexities of logistics & operations is a relatively smaller challenge. If people know and understand whats to be done – then whats left, is just the bit that’s to be done, making it easier.

Most businesses focus on getting their Four P’s out of four right always – product, placement, promotion & price, leaving the fifth P – People – to be affected by dynamism of the organisation. This is bit lopsided for the organisation – some of the functions are well developed and grown, while some are short changed. Imagine having an arm or a leg under developed – everything is a challenge isn’t it? Now imagine an organisation where its people are not fully engaged – its like having the brain out of sync with the rest of the person. It wont work.

We Indians are easily moulded – we make quick adjustments in the organisation and environment, a reason why we fit in the world all-over. In large organisations this would be a mass of energy, focusing in different directions, like a boat with many oarsmen – at some point it will only go round and round. The fifth P – People, in a collective, is a fantastic source of energy, harness-able energy, in particular. If harvested right, you would have a bunch of people turning up bang on time to work, knowing what to do and leaving when its done, or taking responsibility. Utopian? Not actually. While I agree that it could be tough getting it right, there has to be a beginning. If the leader of the business could create a platform where every single employee thinks in the same direction as the leader, can you imagine what a force that would be – case in point – Tesla, which works a lot on that thought process and has achieved a lot.

And the easiest thing to translate – is the culture of an organisation. Though its the toughest thing to translate. So what is culture?

Its defined as

Organisational culture includes an organisation’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid.

If that’s complicated, its just who you are – as an organisation. Simple statement – sitting on a lot of complexity. For instance – Uber is a transport company, which sells transport services through cabs. Apple is a media and communications organisation, selling services through the platform of their devices. Tesla is a power management firm, using batteries to operate cars, cities & now satellites. The culture, defining the product platform, can change how you & your people react, respond & deal with business opportunities in the marketplace. And the more clear the organisation is, the easier it is for the lowest player in the chain, to join the game and play it as a champ. For instance Tesla switches off lights at night, while the plants run as robots don’t need lights. Tesla makes energy, values it.

And what Sideways does is translate culture within the organisation, to a language, which is understood by all involved. Peter Drucker said that culture can eat strategy for lunch – I think culture will be done by breakfast. Culture will ensure people go beyond their briefs, stop being judgemental and use the rule as a norm to underperform. It will promote innovation, challenge limits, weed out inefficiencies and enter new markets. So that the Entrepreneur can build that one product, one company, one event in line with the original passion that he set out to do – sleepless nights, nervous energy and belief.

Similar to love isn’t it. We call it being an entrepreneur. Its fuelled by that sexy thing inside us called passion, and lasts much longer than that first rush. Its forever.

As a foot note – I have always found this to be a bit contradictory – why do we need an outsider to work with people who belong to an organisation, a function or a department, especially when people are part of a group. Maybe another time.

Kaushik Palicha

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ReInvent the Wheel please #UniquePath #YouAreYourDream #Entrepreneurship #Art

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Find your USP! This is oft repeated – find your Unique Selling Proposition… find out what is Unique about what you do / make and then Sell the heck out of it… this will differentiate you, and also make you more memorable amongst the several also rans. This one is easy to figure…

But what if what you choose to do is so UNIQUE that veritably the reason why its so Unique is because no one else thought it worth doing…?!

In that case what you are doing is going to face Stiff resistance, even stiffer non co-operation, sullen nods of disapproval and “friendly” warnings, and generally people wildly indicating to you that you are driving in the wrong lane…

#Evam went into the Entrepreneurship of Theatre in 2003; We hired our first full time Arts Manager in 2005; We managed a National Theatre festival in 2005; We did a National tour of a play in 2009; We started a Theatre based Corporate Training entity in 2010; We took a play to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013; We ventured into Standup Comedy without knowing even that its is Standup Comedy or what is Standup Comedy, in 2009; We did out first tour of the USA in 2014; we have now hired our own Actor rep in 2016 #EvamLab – and basically we still exist, like the Tiger and the White Elephant… is there still a White Elephant? Last few Tigers surely! Evam is going strong… touch wood and grease paint!

Now these were all projects / ventures for which there was no precedent… no reason to get into doing any of this except the notion that this will be New – secondary that it was New to the world, but primarily that it was New to Us…!
New to YOU is New enough!

Its like inventing a Wheel – and there goes the saying ‘Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!’ – i say ‘Invent it again! Coz the new thing won’t be a Wheel… its be a journey of learning… a unique curve of learning… one that, whether you succeed or lose, will put you into a vantage point to share notes with the Inventors of the Wheel themselves!’ – Now That is an Elite Club! Not just a bunch of Wheel users…

All best Artists are Self taught – and then later on learn the Art / Skill from someone else from Skills upgrading… thats the best form of Learning!

Unless you have invented it for yourself you’ll never get the whole picture… you will not fully understand what it is to fail or succeed…

When there is a Unique journey ahead of you – it could be…

Unique because no one else thought of doing it… then this one is Gold! It makes you an Inventor! This is also Rare- coz at some level there is nothing left to be invented!

Unique because no one else thinks its worth doing – then go do it if you feel convinced despite the warnings… this was #Evam – we felt convinced that there was Gold at the end of the murky Rainbow… so much so that we knew how to invent Gold, by the time we reached the end of the Rainbow!

Unique because its NEW to you… then its worth doing still… do it yourself and fail plenty- before asking someone else ‘How do i do this? Any Google videos? Any tips? Any Tutorials?’ – those are all learning hacks… they will make you learn, but you’ll always be a hacker!


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27/f/5’11 or Tale of a Tall Girl: The Journey


Sunil Vishnu K shares the journey of creating the play ‘Tale of a Tall Girl or 27/f/5’11”  in the form of a 3 part blog


July 31, 2016 at around 10 ish pm, the Short+Sweet finals have just finished, awards are being announced, we are waiting for the results… a little nervous, a little excited, a little of everything. It had been 60 days since we first started on this play, 45 days of rehearsals, and then this moment of waiting for the results like in a inter school culturals and then  the announcement “The Best Production of 2016 goes to.. Tale of a Tall Girl” and there are people shouting and whistling and rest – I can’t remember much.

Apparently Shruti (the playwright)and I walked on to the stage. Joined by our team mates (Mrithula, Abishekh, Shalini, Akshay and Kalesh) we were awarded the trophy by Ms Devanesan. We cheered our guts out.. People clapped and so on..(Thank god for cameras which captured the moment, because for me it was quite a blur). It was a high yes, a moment of celebration, a roller coaster of emotions, curtain call happened and then the next moment it was  “Oh my god, its over, is that it? What next?”

And in the next few hours which followed, the night sleep (which I couldn’t get much) and the  morning  after (which was groggy as hell), I found myself thinking “Yes, we won, yes we got a trophy, yes it is a great feeling, but I feel something else as well”

This feeling.. when your play ends on stage and you are a little, a little lost.

This feeling.. when your show ends that day, and you don’t want the night to end.

This feeling.. when you wake up the next morning you feel lost empty, sad, exhausted, not knowing what to do, you cringe, you feel good(as if its your birthday) and sad (as if you lost some meaning of life) – all at once… all in the same moment and you don’t feel like doing anything!

This feeling I felt years back, when at Sankalp, MICA ( 1999-2001) – me, Karthik and a whole batch of ‘Marketing Communications’ students would go out of the way, create plays and then as the curtain call happened, embrace each other and cry. I used to think it was because, we were going to pass out of college soon, never do a play again together and hence the feeling.

But I was wrong. With every play that I have been part of, from school to college to now, this feeling persists. It doesn’t matter if the play was in college canteen or Prithvi, whether the play got bouquets or brickbats, if there were 8 people to see it or 800, if you won awards or got banned, this feeling remains.

And that’s when I realised.. this is the feeling when you create something for the first time and share it with the world. And its not just me as an artist, it could be your play, a painting, a song, a project report, a ppt, a radio show, a proposal, a contract, a sharing of your innermost thoughts – as long as you are true, it is the most exciting and the most nervous and the most scary and the most brave and also the most humbling feeling in the world, because you expose a part of you to the world and say

“Hi! this is me, sharing a part of my life with you, err.what say u?”

And when that moment ends, however the world reacts, good bad ugly, you feel exhausted and can’t help but saying  “Oh my god, its over, is that it? What next?”

#evamlab #theatre #artist #short+sweet #tallgirl212

(p.s: Funnily, I may not remember much for the night of 31st July award ceremony, but I do remember every detail of the first show of ‘Tale of a Tall Girl 27/f/5’11” – that  gave me more goosebumps !)

The play premiered at the ‘short+sweet’ fest south 2016 and won ‘best production’ award. Written by Shruti Parasuram, directed by Sunil Vishnu K, Production by Syama and Priyanka N Ram, lighting design by Vasanth Subramaniam, photography by Cinthoorika Dinesh, design by Smrithi Amareendran ,SFX by John Pradeep, performed by Mrithula Chetlur, Kalesh Ramanand, Akshay Yesodharan , Shalini Vijayakumar and Abishekh Joseph George

-Sunil Vishnu K


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