Sajeev Thomas opened a restaurant, themed on villains of Malayalam cinema, and a vegetable-cum-provision shop
Breaking bread with the villains of Malayalam cinema will not be difficult if you happen to be at Kattans, a restaurant located along Palakkad-Kozhikode bypass route in Kerala. Caricatures of the most famous antagonistsadorn the walls here.
Kattans was opened by Sajeev Thomas, a bus owner from Palakkad, near Koppam, a few weeks ago. When his employees lost their jobs in the aftermath of the lockdown, Sajeev came up with the idea of a restaurant manned by his staff, except for cooks and the tea-master. “Although I run a tax consultancy firm, I started this business [Kattans] because I am passionate about buses. So, when they had to be taken off the roads thanks to the lockdown, it was disheartening. I felt I had to do something for my staff,” says the 44-year-old.
A few weeks into the lockdown, he got around some his employees to sell mangoes from the buses. That went on till the mango season got over. After that, Sajeev had opened a shop, Cheriyangaadi, selling vegetables and groceries, to employ some of his other staffs. Most of the vegetables are sourced directly from the farmers in and around the district, he adds.
Sajeev owns a fleet of 18 buses, named Ithihas, which include tourist and state carriage (private) buses. The livelihood of 30 people employed in these buses was affected when the nation went into a lockdown. While a couple of his state carriage buses have restarted the service, the rest continue to stay off the roads. Now, a dozen of his staffs work at these two enterprises. “It was not possible to help all my staff. However, I am happy that I could do at least this much,” Sajeev points out.
Talking about the décor at Kattans, Sajeev says that he wanted the designs to be different from the usual, prompting him to embellish the interiors with the villains of Malayalam cinema. The portraits are labelled with names of the characters, actors and films. “There are no new-age villains,”says Sajeev with a laugh.
So the options were: Narendran (played by Mohanlal in his début) in Manjil Virinja Pookkal, Keerikkadan Jose from Kireedam, Mundakkal Sekharan (Devasuram), Kulappully Appan (Aaram Thamburan), Mohan Thomas (Commissioner), Ravuthar (Vietnam Colony), Ramji Rao (Ramji Rao Speaking) and Nicholas (August 1). There are, however, female antagonists too — Philomina’s Aanappara Achamma from Godfather and Sukumari’s Ginjimoodu Gandhari from Thenmavin Kombathu, the only women characters in the group.
Coconut fronds, reed mats and wood have given an eco-friendly finish to Kattans, which can accommodate a maximum of 18. A highlight is the use of cycle gathering tables (that has wood top and bicycle base) for the diners. “Although my plan was to open a tea and snack shop, we expanded the menu. On the menu are breakfast, Kerala lunch, biriyani, tapioca-fish curry, chicken, mutton and beef and several ethnic eats,” he says, adding that the response has been heartening.