Kriss Venugopal was hardly in his teens when he fell in love with psychology. As you wonder how it happened, Kriss’ eyes twinkle and a contagious smile spreads on his face. “It was our mathematics teacher Thomas Jacob sir.
He used to explain psychological conditions like schizophrenia and paranoia. After classes, we went to his home to just listen to him explaining such cases,” he recalls.
Years later, Kriss is back in his hometown Kochi after working in various statures all over the world – as a radio jockey, voice coach, actor, model, soft skills trainer, motivational speaker, designer, programmer and most importantly, a hypnotherapist – a career whose seeds were sown by a high school teacher in Kochi. On Wednesday, Kriss is all set release his two books – All You Need is a Hug and All You Need is Love, at an event organised at Mar Ivanios Vidyanagar, Thiruvananthapuram.
All You Need is a Hug is a novel penned in non-linear narrative. Kriss calls it ‘free conscious thoughts’. The title is something that came out of a conversation with a close friend. He says, “How many of us hug each other? The power of touch is such that it can cure worries and spread happiness, yet most Indians do not hug our close ones.”
“Likewise, Kannan, the protagonist, has so many wishes, like a tight hug, but he never reveals it. During a journey, he wants to tell his parents how much he loves them, but he doesn't. The novel comprises 50 incidents in the life of Kannan who grows from a three-year-old to an 86-year-old.”
The second book – All you need is Love – is a love story. "Ram, a filmmaker, falls in love with Saranga, who is engaged to another person. How he expresses his love through letters and burns it all and how he learns to hold back himself are all there in the story. At one point, a lovestruck Ram, withering in agony, seeks help and psychological intervention assists him in moving on," Kriss says.
The stories talk about life, stressing on the importance of mental health. What has helped Kriss evolve as a writer – his experience as an RJ or as a hypnotherapist? Laughing, he says, “Actually, life itself has helped me. From childhood to RJ life to hypnotherapy sessions to love, breakup and happy and bitter experiences, I have drawn inspiration from everything.”
His only worry is that he doesn't have his uncle Rajaram, the late dancer, to grace the book launch. “His untimely demise shocked us all. It was based on him that the character Venky mama in All You Need is a Hug was developed,” he adds.
During his 14-year radio stint in Dubai in Malayalam, Hindi and Tamil, Kriss had been on air for over 10,000 hours. He has done nearly 700 interviews, talking to people like Jeffrey Archer, Benazir Bhutto, Arundhati Roy, Subroto Bagchi, Shashi Tharoor, Nasser, Oommen Chandy, Mammootty and Mohanlal. During hypnotherapy sessions, he has helped people survive trauma, abuse, insomnia and lack of confidence.
“Listening is the key to writing fiction, in my case. Yes, I am influenced by all of them who have talked to me and one day, might tell the world their inspirational stories, but never their pain or agony. That, I consider, unethical. For instance, listening to how Benazir and brothers, during childhood, aped The Three Musketeers shouting ‘One for all and All for One’ has motivated me. That’s how literature inspires people. I want my writings to inspire people,”he says.
Writing, for Kriss, is a therapy. His earlier books Atmavicaram, an 18-part thought collection, Sirolikhitham and a Tamil one, Mauna Porvayil Manathu, point to it. More are coming out of the All You Need series – All You Need is a Vision, All You Need is a Bedtime Story, an audio-supported children's book and All You Need is a Chill down the Spine, a collection of 13 horror stories. Also coming up is a poetry collection titled Till 1947, which will be launched in August.
“Till 1947 is written in 1,947 words and depicts 90 years of freedom struggle. Each milestone of the struggle –Champaran struggle, Sepoy Mutiny, Lal-Bal-Pal, etc – is depicted in four-line verses. I am also working on the English lyrical translation of The Bhagavad Gita which is planned to be released by the end of the year,” Kriss explains.
In between, he drives down to meet his patients to hold consultations, follow up and act in movies. He has acted in Madhuranaranga, Munnariyippu, Lonappante Mammodeesa and will be seen in Mammootty-starrer Pathinettam Padi. He also harbours great dreams like launching a counselling radio - where people can talk to a counselor and get help without revealing their identity. “It's like a helpline and a support system -24-hour counselors to help people in need. The conversations might help them and the listeners.
Radio know-how coupled with psychological assistance can create wonders and save lives,” he feels.
He confesses that the back-to-back schedule doesn’t stress him out at all. Wonder how he does it all and Kriss chuckles, “We have just one life; so, better be busy. Otherwise you miss out the enjoyment. My purpose of life is to make tomorrow better than today. I'll keep doing voices, make people happy, listen to them and change lives, as long as I can.”