You forget for a moment that she is a filmmaker and a writer. You hear only the concern of someone who wants to do something for the less fortunate, and do it fast. Sreebala K. Menon first thought of an app for audio books, when she saw the ordeal of someone close to her, losing her sight, little by little. She had heard of audio books before, but she was not so much aware of the social cause they stood for.
When Sreebala visited blind associations, she saw more and more the plight of the visually challenged, and had in her head the idea of developing something that could help them read. She just didn’t know how to reach people.
Kelkkam, the app, happened when Sreebala watched the boom of the smart phone industry. “Earlier, most people had mobile phones, but smart phones were fewer. Now smart phones are so common and everyone is using so many apps,” she says. “Audio files will not take much space either. So we thought, why not take audio books to people through a smart phone app.”
She also felt strongly that it had to be Malayalam literature that moved about through the app. “Every technological innovation will be in English. There is this feeling Malayalam is for the old, and there is a gap that technology brings, which had to go away. Many kids may know to speak in Malayalam but not to read or write. Also in a busy world like ours, people may not find the time to sit and read, audio books would help here.”
The first audio book they have chosen is Ashita’s Mayilpeeli Sparsham. “We thought we will start with a children’s book since it is summer vacation time. And we want to get feedback before we proceed.”
Freelancers Damodar Radhakrishnan and Sathyabhama have done the reading. The app, after its launch on Sunday, will be available for free at keralabookstore.com. The launch will happen at the Russian Cultural Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, with film personalities like Sathyan Anthikad and Venu and Bina Paul, and writers like Ashita, Shihabuddin Poythumkadavu and Priya A.S. “Because cinema and literature are so closely connected,” Sreebala says.