Keyenn May | Was: Nilesh Kamath
In official documents, filmmaker Keyenn is still Nilesh Kamath. As a result, when credit card executives or courier boys come asking for Kamath, the watchman or maid usually sends them back. It’s a problem, he admits. “To me, now, Nilesh Kamath is only a technical intrusion on my identity,” says the globe-trotter.
In school, his classmates used to call him ‘KN’ (K for Kamath and N for Nilesh) and he sees his name as its natural progression (or elaboration if you will). During a stint in the US, where he studied film-making, he added May, the month of his birth, to Keyenn. “Americans have this penchant for nicknames and Keyenn May worked well for me. It helped me not to sound alien in that country,” he says.
Back in India, though, it was the opposite. But it brought him certain benefits. “When I gave my new name over the telephone, it became easy to get an audience with the top guns in the advertising world,” he says with a chuckle. “In the media, branding is very important and a name like this offers a lot of value.”
But what was the problem with his old name? “Kamaths are associated with the hotel industry and the moment you say Kamath, people ask if you are a hotelier,” says Keyenn. “Also, ours is a caste-conscious society and I wanted to be known by what I do rather than the caste I belong to.”
Now where did that come from?