The Creators Behind the Malayali Aano? Card Game

If you don’t have the Malayali Aano? card game by now, then are you really a Thanni Malayali?

For people who’ve been living under a rock, Malayali Aano? is a card game that is packed with tons of Malayali pop culture references, and all you have to do is play the game according to your sense of quirk and humour. In simple words, it’s basically a Malayali version of Cards Against Humanity. We’re a fan of the game, for sure. So, we decided to do some digging.

We wanted to know the creators behind this game.

So, say hello to Rose and Sona!

An avid doodler, you will literally not find a book of Rose’s or others around hers without scribbles by her. She is mostly cross-country-ing across India, but she considers Kerala and Bangalore her bubble of madness and calm. She has a degree in Mass Media (Advertising) from Sophia College, Mumbai and Masters in Fashion Management from NIFT, Chennai and her schooling was from Kerala. With six years of experience in Marketing and Communication, she considers creativity, communication and networking her biggest fortes. She is currently the Founder & Curator at My Cup of Tea, & Co-founder of Lol Salam Entertainment (makers of Malayali Aano game).

Rose sees the world in colours, patterns and contrasts. This eye for detail has led her to various opportunities to create unique looks, be it in fashion, lifestyle or digital. She is also heavily inspired and influenced by all kinds of pop-culture and all about owning her Malayali roots and love for our culture and movies.


Sona’s artistic pursuit began when she picked up her first paintbrush at the age of 6. She believes aesthetics play a key role in personal and professional well-being. Sona carried this philosophy with her through the decade she spent running the creative wing at an event company she co-founded. Though she studied Design formally at Parsons New York, she is self-taught and unrestricted by conventional rules. She is currently the Founder & Creative Director at Backflip Design Studio, Bangalore & Co-founder of Lol Salam Entertainment.

Sona’s designs carry a slice of her personality in them – a blend of the eclectic that borders on bizarre, yet manages to stay intelligent, real and mindful. When she’s not putting brush to the surface, you’ll find her feeding on conversation and coffee at cafes, watching the sun and waves at beaches or visiting museums somewhere in Europe, or performing with her group of contemporary dancers.

Rose and Sona have always bonded and pondered over things that catch the eye. “We preach slow living but in reality, we are always on the run. We bite more than we can chew!”, they said. It’s their fascination for creating something original together that connected them from the very beginning. Of course, their Malayali roots had a role to play.

Over the years of ideating, they finally found their creative calling. Enlightenment of sorts. Malayali Aano? was born. Here’s the story of how it came to be.

Can you share your ‘light bulb moment’ story that led to Malayali Aano?

Rose is an ardent fan of Cards against humanity, and when she found an Indian version of it, she was excited to play it. However, as the game progressed, she realised that the jokes were not relatable to everyone equally. The thought crossed her mind that a group of people who have so much in common like Malayalis would love something like this.

Sona had been dabbling with the idea of creating something that captures and celebrates how people use Malayalam dialogues as part of their everyday conversations. A coffee table book, merchandise were some ideas, but it didn’t seem exciting enough a medium to explore.

The lockdown served as the ideal period for us to actually come up with the perfect idea.
Rose mentioned her experience playing the Indian version of the game and how it was unsatisfactory as India is a super diverse country and how a Malayalam version with all the Malayali quirks would hit the sweet spot. For Sona, a hilarious game that embraced our pop-culture seemed like the best way to channel her desire to celebrate Kerala. And that’s how our “Light Bulb” moment happened.

We’re curious! What does a day-in-the-life of the people behind Malayali Aano typically look like?

Total Chaos!

We are the sole thozilalis and mothalalis, so you can imagine the madness. On a serious note, both of us super talkative. Most of the time we lose our train of thought because we don’t
know who trumps the talkative card. We are a bag full of ideas, over-inspired and always excited! So any day for us is spent discussing and experiencing the infinite things we are passionate about (ceramics, curls, plants, politics, movie dialogues, food, music, sharing stories of childhood & travel, OCD itch, love for jewellery, dance, art supplies, stationery and intense mandatharams to name a few!).

What’s the most Malayali trait you both are proud of?

How humour is an essential part of our life & culture and our ability to take a joke on ourselves.
Also, have you seen our curls?

Tell us an incident that made you think ‘Ok, Malayali Aano? has the potential to become big.’

When our first test batch of 100 boxes got sold out in four and a half days.

What was the most important part of your whole business journey?

We came up with a big bank of content that covers all things Malayali, but the most important thing was to bring it down to a carefully selected curation that appeals to every Malayali across different spectrums – age, gender, geography, background etc. We wanted to make sure there is something for every kind of Malayali to relate to.


Let’s have some fun! If Malayali Aano? was to showcase itself on a gigantic billboard, what would it say?

“Malayali Aano?”
Uff! The power and feels in these two simple magical words together is a vibe every Malayali

Your deck of cards is a beauty in itself. But, we’re pretty sure a lot of thinking has gone into making the content of each card. What was that process like?

We first narrowed down the concept to two key themes – Nostalgia & Humour. Every card should either make a person nostalgic about Kerala and think of it fondly or make them laugh their hearts out. We further created sub-categories for these two. Humour was divided into movie dialogues, personalities, hideous things people in Kerala say, random objects, types of people, cuss words and most importantly some A stuff. Then for the final step, we did all kinds of permutations and combinations to ensure every question had at least 10 relevant to amazing answers. (Ee-steppil sherikkum kaattu poyi!)

We also paid a great deal of attention to:

  • The ergonomics of the card and a carry-friendly sized box
  • The transliterated Manglish spellings for easy readability. Also included Malayalam script for the
  • Glossary to convert not-so-fluent Malayalis to ‘Thani Malayalis’

What inspired the design of the cards?

When we think of Kerala, the first thing that comes to our mind is the greenery and the water bodies. We recreated this feeling in an abstract fashion with our choice of colours and fluidity in shapes. The typography is bold and forward, like us Malayalis, and the alphabets are interconnected just like how Malayalis are always looking to make connections even in Mars (if possible). The serif detailing resonates with popular movie posters, jewellery ads etc. commonly seen in Kerala and yet the overall aesthetic of the box gives a very modern & contemporary outlook.

What topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a TED talk on something outside of your main area of expertise?

Rose: The subtle art of bulshitting!

Sona: How to live without giving a damn!


What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The fact that we haven’t stopped laughing since the moment we came up with the idea of Malayali Aano? We have jaw issues now.
P.S: Not kidding on the jaw bit.

Sona & Rose, co-founders of Malayali Aano

How would you like people to remember you and your company?

We want to be the game that makes every Malayali ‘woke’!

Aishwarya Gopinath
A foodie at heart, an aspiring novelist, and an enthusiastic writer by nature, I love to dig deep into culture and lifestyle of the place and people around me. I hope to make people cry, laugh, smile, angry, and satisfied with my writing.

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