Meet the tea-seller couple who travelled 17 countries and the film-maker who brought their story to life

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You don’t need an overflowing bank balance to travel the world. All you need is the will and passion to make it happen.

It is this very belief that allowed Vijayan, the 65- year-old tea-seller from Ernakulam, Kerala and his wife Mohana travel 17 countries.

In a beautiful and heartwarming short film, film-maker Hari M. Mohanan documents how this couple beat the odds and achieved their lifelong dream of seeing the world.

“I met Vijayan two years back and he told me about his passion for travelling while we got travelling. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked him ‘Where are you going next?’ He told me, they have plans to visit Argentina in 2020,” recounted Mohanan.

He added, “It’s not everyday that you hear a man busy making tea in his small tea shop say that. His answer was intrigued me. I was determined to explore the philosophy that was behind the statement. And, once I got to know, I knew in an instant it would inspire millions. And, then Invisible Wings was born.”

“I want to see the world. That’s my desire. My only desire!” exclaims Vijayan in the film.

He considers his wife Mohana his greatest strength and with her by his side, he’s managed to visit Egypt, Jordan, London, Paris, Switzerland, Venice, Singapore, Malaysia and America, apart from travelling the various states in the country.

The question is obvious. How did a tea shop owner accumulate the funds for these trips?

Vijayan has been running the tiny tea shop, his only source of income, for the past 40 years with the help of his wife.

With their limited funds, it became increasingly difficult for them to plan trips. They saw only way to keep their passion for travel alive.

Vijayan would approach the banks for a loan and then the couple would travel to a foreign destination, come back and work towards repaying the debt for a period of two-three years.

Thereafter, the cycle would continue.

Frequent criticisms by his friends and family members who were of the belief that he should be saving money for his future instead hardly deterred Vijayan.

His strategy for saving and spending money is fairly simple. They save Rs 300 a day for their tickets and try restricting themselves to 10 dollars or less on picking up some tiny souvenirs from the places they visit. Spending on anything else is a complete no-no.

There’s a shot in the film where the filmmaker zooms in on the table at the couple’s house that has all their souvenirs on display. In that scene, you’re instantly reminded of the old proverb- if there’s a will, there’s always a way.

The film is being shared blindly on all social networking sites and is being picked up by websites (Including Mashable) at a lightning speed.

Even though Mohanan didn’t anticipate such an overwhelming reaction to the film, he knew the story would work.

“Their story is inspiring, passionate and heartwarming,” he says, but adds “They deserve more.”

To understand the emotional reach of the film, Mohanan rode a bicycle across South India for about 80 days crossing 3500 kms and managed to reach 150 screens and counting, just days before the online release of the film. (Invisible Wings released on 15 th October, 2015 on the birthdate of the late APJ Abdul Kalam)

“Through this movie, I wanted to evoke the latent powers hidden inside people. Hard-work and determination makes anything possible and Vijayan and Mohana are the living examples of that.”

The most shocking part however is the fact that Mohanan is currently busy finding alternatives to repay the money he borrowed for the production of the movie.

“Filmmaking is an expensive form of art. My initial plan was to sell the movie to a brand which would take care of the monetary aspect involved with making a film. But, almost everyone I approached wanted to shorten the film to a mere four minutes. That would have been an injustice. I couldn’t do that to them,” he says.

While the whole world is watching the movie online, I’m trying to raise money to dub the film in various languages so that it can reach an even bigger audience. If you are one of those who like the movie and are in a position to help, do support me.” he concludes.

The film ends with Vijayan uttering "It's possible. It's possible. It's possible." It seems Mohanan is also following that very principle

Have a look at the moving film

You can find Hari M. Mohanan on Twitter. He tweets @harimmohanan

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