Updated: Jan 24
We are happy to share the journey of one of our youngsters Stevin Mathew from Chennai, who has recently acted in a short film, which is one of the many feathers in his cap. We take this opportunity to feature a short interview with Stevin in his own perspective about his interests and achievements which is sure to inspire all parents and youngsters! Do take a look at the short film , the link to which is provided at the end of the interview!
1. Hi Stevin, tell us about yourself and your family.
I was born just after Christmas in 1996, and soon my parents were told that I have Down's syndrome. I may be slightly different from others my age, but I have similar ambitions, desires, and feelings. I am blessed to have loving parents, affectionate grandparents and two younger brothers who all love me a lot. I am a very social person and I mingle
very easily with those who are friendly, and consider everyone as part of the family.
2. What was your childhood like?
I spent my early years in Saudi Arabia but my father decided to move to Qatar where the chances for my education and training were more. But my parents found that the centres in Qatar were limited and also expensive. So, they decided to start a centre for me and others like me, called ‘HOPE Qatar’, running for 17 years now. I was the very first student!
As a child, I received lot of love from my family especially my parents and brothers. I enjoyed going to class and made lots of friends. I completed my Diploma in Computer Applications from HOPE Qatar. After returning to India about four years ago, I joined a school in Chennai but gave up after some time as I could not adjust. Since then, I have only been attending online classes from HOPE Qatar.
3. What do you enjoy doing?
I am pretty good at computers and gadgets. I can record and edit my own videos and songs; I learned editing using the Movie Maker which my brother taught me. I also help my parents and grandparents when they have difficulty with the apps and settings on their mobile phones. I like to dance and try to copy the moves of my favourite actors. Recently I launched my own range of scented candles under the brand name 'Pure Glow' candles. I earned my first cheque during Diwali in 2021.
I also enjoy acting and acted in a short film that was released around Christmas and New Year in 2022. I play the lead role in that film that has a valuable message for today’s generation. I had fun doing the film.
4. Why Candles and what is special about your candles?
I had learnt candle making in our school and found it very interesting to see all the lit-up candles that we made together with my friends. Now I make my candles at home. My mother ventured into this, hoping to give me a sense of achievement and a small income which I can call my own. Our aim is to make fancy eco-friendly candles.
5. Can you share some of your ‘cool’ achievements?
Some cool moments of my life were when I graduated from school having completed a diploma in computer applications; when I was appointed by special approval as Sub Inspector of Tamil Nadu Police force for a day; and of course, giving a tight hug to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi uncle when he met me and my friends from HOPE Qatar when he visited Doha Qatar a few years ago.
I love music and wanted to play the keyboard. Not wanting to deprive me of any chances, my mother found a nice teacher who gave me classes online. I was able to play the keyboard for one stanza of a church song, and I did it in front of the church mass which made me so proud. In Dec 2022, my mother produced and directed a short film in which I played the lead role - that of a grandfather. The film has been receiving great reviews. I also have my own website www.stevinmathew.com and my YouTube channel as well apart from my Facebook page where people from around the world connect with me.
6. How did your parents identify your talents especially in acting?
As a child I used to watch Mr. Bean and movies of Malayalam stars like Mohanlal uncle and Mammooty uncle. I used to imitate their style too. At HOPE Qatar, I received lots of opportunities to demonstrate my acting and dancing skills in front of audiences. My mother continues to work with me on my acting skills. My father calls me a ‘drama king’ because I sometimes put on a sad face to get things my way.
7. Can you tell us a little more about the Short film?
The short film is titled ‘Appachante Christmas Visit’ which in Malayalam means Grandfather’s Christmas Visit. The film is sub-titled in English so that all people can understand. The film revolves around the visit of a Grandfather to his daughter’s house for Christmas. He finds that the children of the house are all occupied on their mobile phones all the time, and respond to him in one-word answers. He feels very sad about it and decides to do something about it. The story goes on to show how he introduces the children to traditional games and the ‘real fun’. The film also has a very peppy song which is sure to get your feet tapping.
8. Why did you choose this particular subject?
The film carries a very important message for today’s generation – not just the children and youth, but parents and other adults as well on how we have become trapped in our mobile phones and have got disconnected from nature and what it offers. The film has received very good reviews and feedback so far.
9. What inspired your parents to produce the film and cast you in it?
It was my mother Dr. Ciby Mathew who came up with the concept, the story, and directed the movie. She brought together a great team consisting mostly of budding artists, in both acting as well as technical roles including music, lyrics and so on. It was her desire also to have me play the lead role in a film that can bring out my acting skills, and also carry the message that a person with special needs can go on to do great things in any field that they are given an opportunity in.
My father and brothers shared their ideas especially in post-production and promotion of the video. Slowly it is being picked up by the media as well. I hope that it reaches every house and will help people realize that individuals with special needs are also normal people and they too have a message, and a life. I hope that more people will become friends with people with special needs.
10. What are your immediate future plans?
I hope that I can do more such films and more movie makers open up to including persons with special needs in their movies and giving them suitable roles. I will be happy to act with some of the great actors I grew up watching.
I also hope that my candle making activities can expand to include more persons with special needs like me and ‘Pure Glow Candles’ becomes a brand that is recognized across the country and the world.
As a 25-year-old youth, I would also like to have some vocation that can utilize my skills and also bring me some revenue to give me a sense of achievement. But sadly, not everyone in the business world is open to such inclusion. I am really happy that organisations like ‘Mitra for Life’ are doing some great work in this field to bring in inclusion and provide opportunities.
But of course, for now, I wish that lots and lots of people get to watch my recent film ‘Appachente Christmas Visit’ , post their likes and comments, and share it to all their known people. That would give me immense happiness and inspire me to do better next time.
Please click the link below to watch my short film ‘Appachente Christmas Visit’.
Some scenes from the film