Bagyalakshmi, dubbing-artist-turned-actor, has always evoked a traditional aura with her long hair, large bindi and typical settu mundu. On my way to her abode at Heera Tower in Sastamangalam, Thiruvananthapuram, I was trying to imagine how this Malayali icon would adapt to something as urban as life in an apartment. Bagyalakshmi has bought two flats in the complex, on the sixteenth and seventeenth floors, and modified it in duplex style.
All my doubts were cleared once I stepped into the flat. The interior looked perfect. “Security is the hallmark of flats. Besides, we can keep a safe distance from the annoyance of salesmen, alms seekers and the like," said the actor, who admitted that she had once longed for a small home with a courtyard full of plants and vegetables. Although she had built such a house, she had to shift to a flat when she got busy with trips.
The actor had only one demand when she looked for a flat — it must be near a temple. She did not want to break her regular morning visits to the temple. Her search eventually ended at Heera towers. The duplex was lying unoccupied even after three years of completion. Though it stood in the center of the city, it had some sort of a rural charm and this attracted Bagyalakshmi. Open the windows, and you will be delighted to see the beautiful Thiruvananthapuram city through the lush coconut trees and greenery.
A flat, just like a house
On her first visit, she opened the main door and saw a staircase. She at once felt a negative energy, and decided to change its position. The 3,000 sq ft flat today belongs to Bagyalakshmi and her children Pappu and Sachu. She assigned the interior designing works with the designer of Heera. The flat looked better when the staircase was shifted to dining room. A cupboard was newly built in place of the old staircase. A marble statue of lord Krishna stands on this cupboard.
All the cupboards were made of teak wood, which gave them a touch of Kerala. Interiors are embellished with the statues of lord Krishna, ‘urulis’ (bronze scuttles), lamps and ‘paras’ (a container), imparting a traditional mark.
In the previous design, there was a small space near the dining area meant for ironing and keeping sandals. Finding it unwanted, the area was demolished and the saved space was joined with the bedroom and the balcony. Thus, the bedroom became bigger. In the lower floor, there is a balcony that can be accessed, both from the bedroom and the dining. “We can open the windows without the fear of robbers and mosquitoes” Bagyalakshmi says with a smile. “No one should feel that this is not a house. Interior was redesigned with this in mind” she adds.
Luxury of white
Except for the golden color of the tiles, the predominant shade here is white. All walls are painted in white. The simple living room flaunts sofas with black and white lines. The kitchen has an outright modern look. The servant’s bathroom that was close to the kitchen was converted into utility area.
The area beneath the staircase was used to store ‘not so essential’ things. The wall at the bottom of the staircase was embellished by wood cladding. Wash area is set in the balcony adjacent to the dining. It has certain advantages: As the wash area is constantly in contact with sun and wind, it will always remain dry and hygienic. It’s also away from the dining.
Plenty of storage
On the upper floor, there are two bedrooms and a family room. The positions of the shelves were changed, and now there is a book shelf and a study room. As the rooms are really spacious, there is plenty of space for cupboards near the dressing area. Like their mother, the children also are also fond of white color. Since her younger son does not like a cot, his bed is set on the floor.
The prayer room is arranged on the upper floor. Off white colored vitrified tiles are used for the flooring. As these tiles went well with the common theme color of the interiors, they were retained. The entire furniture was bought from Thiruvananthapuram.
The furniture and furnishings are pretty simple. Blinds that can regulate light according to the needs are hung in common rooms. Curtain is used only in the bedrooms. The blue-hued statue of Krishna adorns the living room. In the dining room, you can find a Tanjore-style painting.
In the bedroom, a statue and a painting of the Lord are placed to make every dawn an auspicious experience. “Most of the decorative articles, including the statues of Krishna are gifts,” says Bagyalakshmi. The breeze that whistled past the roses and basils grown in the balcony, whispers in your ears that this is definitely an artist’s home! Bagyalakshmi’s artistically redesigned flat.