In 1990, when Venu Nagavally-Maniyanpilla Raju-Mohanlal team brought out the movie Aye Auto, Malayalis fell in love with two Sundaris — the autorickshaw and the song. There is no other song that a Malayali would associate the ‘mellow cab’ with.
Now, a video featuring a mini version of Sundari autorickshaw that is driven by a five-year-old boy and his sister is doing the rounds on social media. The video with the iconic Sundari Sundari... song in the background has been a hit. The autorickshaw was handcrafted by Idukki resident Arunkumar Purushothaman, a staff nurse at Idukki District Hospital. The kids who re-enacted Sudhi and Meenukutty are his children Madhav Krishna and Keshini Krishna.
What inspired him to make a mini autorickshaw run by a DC motor? Arun says he just wanted to make a toy for his children. “When I was young, I was very excited about vehicles and always wanted to have toys like that. But my family could not afford it. My father, who was a carpenter, overhauled a second-hand bicycle with wooden wheels for me. After that, using my father’s tools, I crafted several small toys, especially vehicles. When I was in class 10, I won the first prize in a state-level competition for making the working model of a JCB. So, that’s how it all started,” he says.
As he got busy in higher studies, the hobby took a backseat. Later, he moved to Puducherry after being appointed as a nursing officer at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER). “When I was there, I crafted the model of an SUV for my son. A toy car would cost thousands of rupees. Rather than spending that much money, I decided to make a car. Years later, I made a three-wheeler bike for my daughter, too,” says Arun.
It took Arun almost seven months to build the autorickshaw for his son, who had insisted that he made one after seeing Aey Auto. “At that time, I was trying to come back from Puducherry after eight years’ service at JIPMER. Also, I got involved in some personal matters; so it took a lot more time. I wanted the autorickshaw to look as real as possible. I used recycled materials for the body. I had to buy online only the motor and the battery . I used 'raw materials' like parts of a satellite dish to crushed gas stove for crafting the body.. It was fun actually, because it was for my kids. It cost me around Rs 15,000. Since my first toy-making attempt for my kids, I have been posting the making videos and photos on social media. So, my friends and family actually wanted me to finish Sundari’s work as soon as possible. They were all waiting and wanted to launch it in a different way; hence I made a video featuring my kids,” he shares.
He gives much credit to his famiy, espesially his wife who supported him well. “I am doing all these works during my free time. But they never complained.”
Arun now lives in Kattappana. He also has a hobby of making useful things from waste materials. He has been getting enquiries for the autorickshaw, but he is not ready to sell the pretty toy which is meant for his kids. “I don’t know. If everything goes well and I get free time, I will try to make more of them and think about selling them,” he concludes....