Monday, September 30, 2013

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

Muhammed Anaz is the only cat and dog supplier in Mollywood. He talks about the ways to look after them, as well as their nature

By Shevlin Sebastian

One day, in April, Muhammed Anaz received a call on his mobile. It was from production controller Sidhu Panakkal of the Malayalam film, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’.

We need a cat,” said Sidhu.

How did you get my number?” said Anaz.

Mohanlal gave it to me,” said Sidhu.

Which Mohanlal?” said Anaz.

The superstar,” said Sidhu.

Anaz wanted to burst out laughing, thinking that it was a prank call. Suddenly, the director Siddique came on the line and said, “Anaz, we need a cat.”

So Anaz took a mix of Persian and Siamese cats and went to the location, a bungalow, in Kochi. As soon as he stepped into the courtyard, from a distance, Mohanlal shouted, “I am the one who gave your number to Sidhu.”

Anaz then remembered that once, a couple of years ago, he had been introduced to Mohanlal by a photographer, Jayaprakash Payannur. “Amazingly, Mohanlal had not only remembered me, but also saved my number,” says Anaz, looking amazed. “That’s Mohanlal for you: a simple and humble man.”

Anaz is the only cat and dog supplier to Mollywood (earlier, the animals were got from Chennai). His break came when he was asked to supply a Persian cat for the 2011 film, ‘Teja Bhai and Family’. 

There is a shot when the hero, Prithviraj, who is a don based in Malaysia, enters an office, and to show casualness, he holds a cat on his arm. This is Mittu, a white Persian cat, which belongs to Anaz. The shoot lasted five days. Thereafter, Anaz, who has ambitions to become an actor, received several opportunities where his pets were given roles.

His latest film is 'Pattam Pole', in which Mammooty’s son, Dulquer Salman, plays the hero. “I have provided a miniature pinscher called Jill,” says Anaz. “The heroine (Malavika Mohanan) has a pet dog. Jill will sit on Malavika's lap and is fed ice cream. When the heroine goes on a journey she says goodbye to Jill.”

Anaz said hello to cats and dogs right from his childhood. And it happened because of a tragedy: his father, a doctor, died in a road accident when Anaz was only three-and-a-half years old. Thereafter, the family went to stay with Anaz's grandmother at North Paravaur, 33 kms from Kochi. “My grandmother used to have around 30 cats,” he says. “I developed my love for cats, dogs and hens at that time.”

Not surprisingly, when he grew up, he began to keep cats and dogs, apart from lovebirds, at his own home. These include dogs, like miniature pinschers, toy dogs and Pomeranians, apart from Siamese, Persian, Himalayan, Balinese and the British Short Hair cats. Owing to his close association, he has a good idea of their character.

A cat cares only for the house and food,” he says. “They don't care for the people. Food and comfort are most important for them. They will not go anywhere, if they are happy.”

On the other hand dogs become emotionally close to the owners.
Hence, men are happier with dogs rather than cats,” says Anaz. “Those who raise dogs want love in return, while those who raise cats do not expect love. That is why women have cats as pets, because they are used to giving love.”

Meanwhile, Anaz keeps his cats healthy and contended by providing a good diet. He will buy fresh sardines from fishermen off the island of Vypeen, near Kochi. Then Anaz will remove the head and the tail and the kidneys. He will then cook it, along with rice, white onions, and turmeric powder in a pressure cooker.

It will become like a biryani,” he says. Normally cat owners place the fish inside the rice. But the cat only eats the fish and avoids the rice. This way, the animal will eat the fish and rice. Twice a month, in order for the cat to get iron, Anaz provides the liver of hens.

Amazingly, cats don't like cow's milk. “It harms their health,” says Anaz. “They will have worms.” Instead, to strengthen their bones, he buys artificial milk made by western canine companies. It is similar to milk powder and costs Rs 1000.

At the backyard of his Kochi home, he has cages of cats and dogs. When they see him, the dogs bark loudly. “That is because I am accompanied by a stranger,” he says. “If I shout and say it is okay, they will keep quiet.” Which is exactly what happened.

Anaz smiles happily in the sudden silence. So, it is no surprise when he says, “I loves animals more than people. I get happiness and a sense of peace when I am with them.” 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)  

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