• Documentary
  • Editorial

Velappaya Nandanan

Case Study
College Project


Design & Subculture project was split in to two parts.

For part 1, the requirement was to create a photo-essay book about subcultures in our locality. The book was to provide an overview of several subcultures, represent each with photos that illustrate what makes them a distinct subculture.

The book also needed to explain the focus and method and subsequently a personal definition of subculture with a with a bibliography section covering all the resources and references.

The second stage of the project required to concentrate on one subculture from the several identified in the first part. After further research in to the particular subculture, a brief was to be created analysing the findings and with means of a design intervention. The brief was then executed in the final stages of the project.

Photo essay book title

Photo Esssay

The research was conducted in Kochi, mainly due to the cultural diversity of the area. The aim was to identify groups of people with similar interests and practices and research about them. Some of these groups were identified through brainstorming sessions and some through observation. Four subcultures were selected for the project—Gypsies, God’s Band, Working Class, Fishermen.

  • Photo essay book cover
  • Photo essay book cover
  • Photo essay book cover
  • Photo essay book cover
  • Photo essay book spread - Gypsies
  • Photo essay book spread - God's band
  • Photo essay book spread - Working Class
  • Photo essay book spread - Fishermen

Originally from Rajasthan, this Gypsy group were in Kerala for six months selling various handicraft and fashion accessories. They are easily identifiable by their bright coloured clothes and the of accessories they wear.

God’s Band consists of the temple musicians of Kerala. As the temple music of Kerala follows a particular structure in its rhythm and presentation, practices and rituals of temple musicians are also heavily based on the ones followed in temples.

Immediately recognisable from the rest of the people in the market through their attire and argot, the labour workers were the third subculture—Working Class.

Influenced by their relationship with the sea, Fishermen from the coastal areas of Kerala follows their own culture, religious views and rituals that blends with the rest of the society.

Aim & Objectives

Tell the story of the members of the subculture, their life and music.

  • Showcase the music
  • Illusrtate their life style
  • Explore the harmony among the artists
  • Produce a short documentary (10–15 minutes) about the temple musicians

After further research, the goal was modified to concentrate more on one particular musician—Velappaya Nandanan, one of the leading kurumkuzhal artist performing today.

This would help to document his story and music for the reference of the general public, as well as the members of the subculture.

Shooting locations

The Documentary

The documentary aimed to cover interviews with the artist himself, other musicians he play with and the performances themselves. With this goal in mind, shooting was planned for a week during which Nandanan was perfoming live at four places. The majority of the shooting was done in various temples spread over three distrcits in Kerala.

The whole documentary was edited in the next two weeks. With over 8 hours of shooting material, the main goal in editing was to tell the story effectively under 15 minutes.