“Nammuku valla Bangalore o Chennai o leki vidaam, Kerala ithil ninnal sheri avilla.” How often have we heard youngsters from Kerala share this opinion? God’s Own Country has mesmerising beauty that attracts tourists but it lacks inclusivity, and this drives its youth away.
We, the younger generation, are set to create a benchmark in this era, and if our stories aren’t told, where does it leave us? That’s exactly why we relate to the ethos of Pooja Studios, a creative, inclusive studio space in Kochi that encourages today’s youth to be their authentic selves. Owned and run by Akash Antony, it started with the aim to give creators a safe space where they can create their work efficiently. However, over the years, Akash wanted the studio to capture the modern culture of the youth, their creative expression, and experimental values that might set a new precedent in Kerala.
Speaking to PinkLungi, Akash Antony shared, “For years, talented Malayalis have left Kerala’s soil in search of better opportunities. The Brain Drain in God’s Own Country is real. Many of us believe that the grass looks greener on the other side, so we go abroad looking for opportunities. And even if opportunities are available in Kerala, the people can be a little rigid. You are not allowed to express your ‘real selves’ for the most part. The lack of free expression and continuous moral policing creates a restrictive culture that hinders growth. Culture is important to the people of Kerala, but understanding that there are more ways than the accepted norms to express that culture is going to take some time.”
He further added, “Even though we’re striving to be more open-minded than we’ve ever been as a society, it is still very selective. I want people to see alternative realities, where a new generation of bold, experimental and fearless creators express their creativity that brings out their individual personalities. I want to facilitate this dialogue through Pooja Studios and my main focus is to allow talent to grow in the way they want to.”
Pooja Studios is a judgement-free place where art and culture connoisseurs can cultivate their creative expression. They want creators, irrespective of their identity and expression, to create their work in a safe, inclusive space. “Inspiration can be found anywhere. So I would want people from across backgrounds to come and explore this space. We aim to provide the best possible services and facilities to independent creators. We are in the culture of helping them build their brand and become the creators they have always wanted to be,” shared Akash.
Akash has a passion for film, futuristic media, community spaces and modern art and wishes to help promote them through Pooja Studios. He commented, “The content we create needs to make an impact on a global scale. People from around the world should know that there is massive talent hidden in Kerala and I want to be one of the pioneers in promoting it. Placing the talent of Kerala on the global map would be the icing on the cake. I understand that changing the perception of the masses will take time. While all of us work on getting Kerala to be more inclusive, what I can offer you is an environment where you can create freely, authentically, and without fear of losing sight of what is real to you.”
Pooja Studios works with creators to create a community and establish themselves as an authority in the space. The studio extends a one-on-one work environment to aspiring creators on everything related to shooting, recording and editing services. As a creator, you can get access to equipment and a space where your creativity can go bonkers, literally.
They are in the process of building an online community too so even if you cannot join like-minded creators physically, you can collaborate with them via the virtual world. Akash shared, “We have a good presence in the physical space, but we want people joining us virtually too – we want a solid online presence, an evolving community, and a name for being the people you approach as your creativity unfurls. If we feel like what you have to offer needs a broader reach, we are even willing to partner with you and try to grow your presence.”
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