The Ettisheri brothers, owners of Khaana Peena restaurant in Thiruvananthapuram, turned their lockdown woes into a music video
A Malayalam lockdown rap number, laced with double entendres and expletives, is making waves with its narrative of the woes of Niyas Ettisheri, an entrepreneur.
Just as Niyas was finding his place in the sun, the lockdown forced him to down the shutters of his new restaurant in Thiruvananthapuram. Situated in Attakulangara, in the heart of the city, Khaana Peena, a small restaurant that was open 24×7, was getting popular for Malayali favourites such as Kerala parottas, meat fries, ghee rice and so on.
In the first stage of exit-lockdown, restaurants were permitted to function till 7 pm. “But our place was frequented by the night owls and we struggled to find customers when we had to close by 7 pm. So he closed the outlet again,” explains Shanavas Ettisheri, Niyas’ eldest brother and an investor in the business.
“Things were not going well for Niyas. As he was unable to find a foothold in Kerala as an entrepreneur, he managed to get a visa and left for the United Arab Emirates. His restaurant in Dubai was doing reasonably well, when suddenly the building he was working from was demolished to make way for a new highway. Disheartened, Niyas returned to Kerala in 2016,” says Shanavas.
To help his brother, Shanavas, an entrepreneur and hotelier himself, invested in Niyas’ new venture, Khaana Peena. Eight months down the line, it had to be shut down as the pandemic was spreading in Kerala.
All through the lockdown, Niyas kept lamenting his bad luck. But in the second stage of the exit-lockdown, he opened shop again, this time with a different menu.
“Since many of our waiters and cooks had left the city, we had to come up with something that did not require a lot of manpower. We switched to varieties of chutta kozhi (grilled chicken) and that is catching on now,” explains Shanavas.
Moved by Niyas’ hardship, Shanavas captured his brother’s angst in verse and had it tuned by siblings, Vaishakh MK and Vignesh MK, known as MK Bros,, based in Thiruvananthapuram.
The rap song belted out with swag and fervour by Niyas and his younger brother, Ibrahim Ettisheri, also one of the partners of Khaana Peena, conveys the essence of the anguish of hoteliers who were hit by the lockdown and the pandemic. The song narrates how the brothers had opened their small outlet with high hopes and how their dreams of making it big were dashed by the lockdown.
The catchy beat has struck a chord with listeners who are able to empathise with the duo’s lockdown blues.
The brothers’ friend Samarth Ambujakshan directed the video. Little did Shanavas imagine that the song and the video would resonate with viewers.
“We uploaded it on our page. I added one more stanza to the song about the chutta kozhi to end it on a hopeful note. The song mentions how we have moved on and changed the menu too!” points out the lyricist. Within a week, the video has been viewed by more than 69,000 viewers. The success of the song was unexpected but what has made them upbeat is that customers are gradually finding their way back to Khaana Peena.