The Chosen Toy Life

Toys define Subid’s life. Or rather, he finds life in toys. What he creates is not simply toys. He calls them “non-violent toys”. A post graduate in design from Delhi IIT, he reminded one of the character Alphonsachan in the movie Daivathinte Vikrithikal – like a magician in a space all his own, surrounded by little children, giving life to his toys.

Subid always lived his life different from what is considered the norm. Full of dreams, he attained success wherever he went. His mother was his tower of strength and with her support he climbed up the success ladder. After her death, he decided to head out and start experimenting with life and ideas.

In his stall at the environment fest organized by the Gandhian Chair of Kerala University, at Gandhi Bhavan, Thiruvanathapuram, he exhibited toys along with the message that his non-violent toys are a productive protest against the
“throw-away” culture of today. His toys are quite novel and are made of materials like ice cream cups, straws, paper, plastic bottles, burst balloons and so on.

A native of Valancheri in Malappuram, Subid completed BTech with high scores from Kottayam Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology in 1999 before joining IIT Delhi for his masters in design, MDes, which is the scientific and technological
study about making a product aesthetically more attractive in the market. Subid says that his love for children and the child within him is what prompted him to make toys.

A Victim of Contemporary Education

Passionate about movies and literature, he was forced into studying engineering because that’s what good students did – engineering or medicine. After BTech, he tried for the Pune Film Institute, but his dreams of getting into films failed to take off as he could not clear the entrance test. He also failed in his first attempt to join IIT for M Design after which he went to Warda for a project of Khadi and Village Industries. Visiting his brother, Sudeep, who was studying at the IIT Bombay, rekindled his desire to get into IIT and this time he succeeded.

Those were days of intense strife against societal norms for him. It didn’t help that he couldn’t be with the girl he loved as she belonged to a different religion. He couldn’t concentrate on his studies. He dropped out and came home. It was his mother whose understanding and support that made him go back and graduate with 70% marks.

While all his friends got placed in MNCs, he valued his freedom more and chose a different life, for some time even sitting idle. He had studied mass production, but his mind rebelled against it. It was at this time that he was called by renowned toy designer Aravind Gupta to Pune for the dubbing of a film based on toys and this brought Subid closer to toys. Even though toy making exhibitions are not much of a money-maker, his passion urges him to go on even in dire situations. At times, when short of money, he even peddles his toys at temple festivals and fairs.



Subid says that his mother Pushparjini was his biggest supporter though his father Sukumaran didn’t quite understand his passion. Subid and his mother both had heart problems. With treatment at one hospital after the other, his mother passed away eight years ago and his father eventually remarried. His brother Sudeep is teaching at Kozhikode NIT and Subid has pretty much lost attachment with his home.

Children Are My Teachers

“I learn from children and spend a lot of time with them. I travel all through Kerala visiting schools with the intention of breaking the current system of schooling which is destroying innocent children,” Subid says. He adds that there are a lot of people who are clueless as to what to do with their life after education.

The aim of this visionary is to popularize user-friendly and environment-friendly toys. His dream as a product designer is to revive traditional toys of which he learned from his friend Professor Sudarshan Khanna. Another friend came up with the idea of non-violent toys which conveys the message not to kill. Subid says that nothing would be waste but for man’s haste. He also turned to toy-making to overcome his grief and loneliness after his mother’s death.

Subid’s biggest dream is a toy-making centre where anybody can learn and share what they want. He has started writing a book named “My Chosen Toys” and adds that his life is a dedication to his mother who taught him the meaning and
meaninglessness of life as well as the children and friends who help him survive.

(Story originally appeared in Deshabhimani daily)