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Hobby creating lifelike mechanical elephant turns big business for Kerala youth

Prasanth Puthuvelil, Santo Pottathuparambil, Jinesh Kaithavalapil and Robin Meppully

It all began as a hobby for four friends in Kerala to enjoy some leisure time. But now that hobby is earning them lakhs with orders pouring in from countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and UAE.

What more, Prasanth Puthuvelil, Santo Pottathuparambil, Jinesh Kaithavalapil and Robin Meppully, all hailing from Chalakudy are being praised by animal lovers world over after a mechanical elephant named ‘Raman” made by them was inducted for rituals at Sree Krishna Temple in Irinjalakuda, replacing the elephant.

With no formal training in art or sculpturing, these self-taught youth started making lifelike tuskers out of mere passion. “We are all into different vocations as welder and  painter. We have no formal training in any art. But from our school days, we used to create small replicas of animals using waste materials, thermocol and card boards. When local residents appreciated our small works, we started improvising and created lifelike animals,” said Prasanth.

Their first attempt way back in 2002 was a replica of a dinosaur. “We made a four-feet high model of a dinosaur and placed it in front of my house. It was fun to watch the replica when the wind made the tail and small limbs of the small sculpture move. Neighbours came to my house to watch it. So we decided to improvise and used a rotating table fan. We attached strings to mechanically move the head, limbs and tail of the dinosaur. More people started to come to watch the moving dinosaur. We also became thrilled by the response of the people,” said Prasanth.

But it was a sculpture of a life-like elephant calf which they made in 2008 that really grabbed the attention of the people. “After seeing the calf elephant that moves its trunk and head, a person approached us and asked whether we could display it at his house on the occasion of his marriage and he was ready to make a payment for it. We were really excited and we took up the assignment. People at the marriage were all happy to see the elephant calf. That was our first ever business deal. So we decided to make a lifelike tusker that can move the head, trunk, tail and even ears,” he said.

The real break for the four youth came when they received an order to supply three lifelike mechanical tuskers for a pooram in Dubai in 2021. “We put in our best and created the four mechanical tuskers. It became a big hit in Dubai and people from across the world watched the videos of the tuskers on social media. Now we are getting orders from other countries. We have already supplied mechanical tuskers to various organisations in Bengaluru and Pune,” Prasanth said.

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