The hazel-eyed boy who played Mammootty's childhood in 'Oru Vadakkan Veera Gadha' had stolen our hearts with his easy charm. Through the years, we have seen him grow into a talented young man, working to find his space in the industry as an actor, dancer, and director.
The role in 'Vaddakkan Veera Gadha' had won him the State Award for best child artist. He has appeared in more than 40 movies since then and has made his mark as a dancer. He made his debut as a director with the Fahadh Faasil-starrer 'Ayal Njanalla' in 2015. Apart from his passion for dance and movies, the one thing that Vineeth holds close to his heart is travelling.
The train journeys to Chennai
The earliest memory that Vineeth has of travelling is of the weekend trips to Chennai that were routine during his growing up years. "I learned classical dance from teachers in Chennai. On Fridays, I would board the night train to Chennai from Trivandrum with my parents. We would finish the classes and take a train back to Trivandrum on Sunday.
I loved those trips and looked forward to them all week. Perched on the window seat, I loved to watch the scenes outside rush by and slow down with the train. Those trips filled me with a love for travelling. I enjoy every opportunity to travel that comes my way as part of work. In fact, I am lucky that my work involves travelling. Apart from that, I set aside some days every year for travelling," he says.
Like every serious traveller, Vineeth has set himself a few travel goals. A major one among this is to see as much as possible of India. "My travel destinations are usually not pre-planned. I start with a rough idea about the place in general. Often, when the Google Map shows a nearby site that is important for historical or cultural reasons, it is a pleasant surprise," he says.
After deciding to take a tour of India, he has made it a practice to travel to at least one destination every year. Vineeth says that he loves to do his homework when travelling – reading up and talking to people are great ways to understand the layered cultural nuances of each place, says the young travel enthusiast.
"This year, the destination I chose was Spiti Valley. The Himalayas are the dream of every traveller. And it was such a rewarding experience being in the lap of pristine nature and the snow covered Himalayas. I think the most extraordinary thing about travelling is that you come to own so many wondrous sights; they become a part of us."
Family trips need planning
Vineeth says that the experience of travelling with family is different from travelling alone. "Sometimes, the trip might be part of my job and sometimes the journey or destination will not be suitable for a family trip. So there are times when I travel alone. I do enjoy those trips. But when I have my family with me, it becomes another kind of experience and I do cherish it. We have gone to so many destinations outside India."
He is the kind of traveller who is on the lookout for some adventure, confesses Vineeth. "Most journeys that I choose will have the element of sportive adventure. For the same reason, I prefer travelling as a backpacker than driving. It also allows one to get in touch with the pulse of a place, get a real taste of life in those places."
The most memorable journeys
"If I have to choose two places that I always want to go back to, that would be London and Canada. The village trip that we got to do in London was a lovely experience. To me, Canada is synonymous with the Niagara Falls. It is a sight that sweeps you off your feet. The most memorable experience at the Niagara was the boat tour called 'Maid of the Mist' which lets you literally soak in the beauty of the falls.
The view is simply breathtaking. When nearing the falls, the passengers are given raincoats to shield from the powerful spray of water. I have been there so many times, but I don't think I can ever get enough of Niagara," says Vineeth, his much-loved eyes twinkling with the memory.
The misadventure in Gujarat
The making of his movie 'Ayal Njanalla' took Vineeth and his team to Gujarat. The team had wrapped up the shooting and most of the crew had left when Vineeth and the camera assistant started on their way back. The duo had planned to can a few more shots of the beautiful landscape and wanted to take their time.
"Little did we imagine that the story would take an unexpected twist. We came across a scenic spot with a small temple and began shooting. All on a sudden, we were surrounded by a small mob of people who seemed to be furious about something. They were shouting at us in Gujarati. We had no means to communicate with them though we tried our best to explain.
Before we knew what was happening, we were dragged inside a room and locked up. Luckily for us, someone who knew Hindi turned up. We explained our plight to him and he translated it to the villagers. It was then that we got to know that the villagers had mistaken us for thieves who were after the idol in the temple. It was sheer good luck that we were able to escape unhurt."
Before winding up, Vineeth says that his dream journey is a trip to Kailash-Mansarovar. Though he has gone to the Himalayas several times, he's yet to go to the famed Mansarovar. "I do think of it as an experience of a life-time and I am waiting for it to happen."