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Ahead of local polls, Kerala parties turn to artistes-turned-mask makers for unique designs

A group of 60 professionals from Kerala’s entertainment industry turned to mask making to supplement their incomes. Political parties are seeking their designs now.

Written by Meera Kalyani | Kochi | Updated: November 26, 2020 7:07:50 pm
Kerala, political face masks, face masks as a campaign strategy, facemasks campaign tool, COVID-19, campaign strategies, Local body elections, Kerala news, Kerala local body election, Kerala panchayat elections, election campaign amid coronavirus, Kerala Coronavirus updates, Indian Express news.With Kerala gearing up for the three-phased local body elections, facemasks are proving to be an effective campaign tool amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Picture credit: Praveen Symphony)

They started the business as an alternate source of income during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. But a group of professionals from the entertainment industry in Kerala are now supplying parties with a crucial campaigning tool ahead of local polls: customised masks.

“We are a group of DJs, instrumentalists, event organisers and singers who came from various parts of the state. I had to come up with an alternative source of income in order to support ourselves and which required minimum investment,” Praveen Symphony told indianexpress.com.

That’s how his firm, named Symphony Entertainments, started making masks. Symphony said the group of 60 divide the tasks of stitching and designing the masks among them.

Kerala, political face masks, face masks as a campaign strategy, facemasks campaign tool, COVID-19, campaign strategies, Local body elections, Kerala news, Kerala local body election, Kerala panchayat elections, election campaign amid coronavirus, Kerala Coronavirus updates, Indian Express news. From stitching to designing the masks, the group of 60 divide the tasks among them. (Picture credit: Praveen Symphony)

“When we first started out, we were aiming at bringing out unique masks, the kind which was not available in the market”, the 40-year-old resident of Thrippunithura said.

They started by offering superhero-themed masks for children and masks matching outfits for women. But as the state’s local body elections drew closer, they started making masks for political parties. The polls are scheduled to be held in three phases from December 8 to 14.

Unlike the other double-layered cloth masks, these customised masks have party symbols and a candidate’s picture on them. The pictures of these unique masks have also been shared on WhatsApp and Facebook.

Kerala, political face masks, face masks as a campaign strategy, facemasks campaign tool, COVID-19, campaign strategies, Local body elections, Kerala news, Kerala local body election, Kerala panchayat elections, election campaign amid coronavirus, Kerala Coronavirus updates, Indian Express news. Political facemasks are proving to be an effective campaigning tool in the state. (Picture credit: Praveen Symphony)

Symphony said he saw the potential use of these masks in campaigns given the restrictions imposed on mass rallies, gatherings and door-to-door campaigns. He claimed their mask designs are unique and said they had already sold over 12,000 masks so far.

“We have sold the most number of masks to CPI(M), followed by CPI, and Congress. The masks are popular among many independent candidates too” Symphony said.

But political candidates and parties also make for demanding clients. Not all designs sought are possible, and Symphony said party officials “do not seem to understand this.”

Kerala, political face masks, face masks as a campaign strategy, facemasks campaign tool, COVID-19, campaign strategies, Local body elections, Kerala news, Kerala local body election, Kerala panchayat elections, election campaign amid coronavirus, Kerala Coronavirus updates, Indian Express news. Apart from face masks, the team also designs T-shirts, and caps, with the party symbol and sometimes the candidates’ picture on them. (Picture credit: Praveen Symphony)

“For example, CPI and CPI (M) masks are easier to make, as their logo is in one single colour, additional features like reflectors are easier to add. However, with the Congress and BJP and their multi-coloured logos, it might not go well with the reflectors. I find explaining these to the party officials a bit difficult,” he said.

Kerala, political face masks, face masks as a campaign strategy, facemasks campaign tool, COVID-19, campaign strategies, Local body elections, Kerala news, Kerala local body election, Kerala panchayat elections, election campaign amid coronavirus, Kerala Coronavirus updates, Indian Express news. Unlike the other double-layered cloth masks, these customised masks have party symbol on them. (Picture credit: Praveen Symphony)

Making masks might have helped them tide over a tough time, but Symphony said it will be some time before they can return to their original professions. “It doesn’t matter if we have leftover materials or masks to sell, we will be going back to our profession. This is only a temporary set-up,” he said.

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