Having reached Chennai at 0545 on Friday, my first taste of the city was absolutely awesome. Got in a 12B cut service from Koyambedu and was embraced into the folds by a blue uniformed conductor who reserved nothing but the choicest epithets for people who did not have change, people who did not realise that the bus was only till Panagal Park and well, for people whose faces he didn't like. Thankfully I did not fit into any of those categories (now that's suprising, isn't it ?) Reached home at ten past six and woke up all the buggers which is something I absolutely love doing.
Chennai is hot. Bloody hot. I was sweating like a pig everytime I came out of home. It definitely did not help that 19B was in the third floor too. Changes since my last trip....well..The biggest change was in the autowallahs and their attitude....Most of them have become goddamn smart.. They talk only in degrees Fahrenheit and not in degrees Celsius...106 and not 41...All of them have Chandramukhi posters in their autos and can't seem to sing enough praises about the movie. And yes, they have become really reasonable in quoting fares especially when they find out that you aren't exactly new to this great city. They actually say 'Thank You' and 'Have a good day'...
Movie halls like Sathyam have very affordable ticket prices when compared to the shitholes of Bangalore and they even accept credit cards for payment....Net cafes are sprouting in every corner and many of them offer decent speeds at very reasonable prices. The only sore point is that most of these shops do not have a/c so relief comes from old creaking Rallis fans and this is not much considering Chennai is so fregging hot. What else has changed ? Yeah.. we now have a STB at our house which means there are 104 channels to choose from. Of course, since all the guys had gone to work and my interview was only at 3 in the afternoon, I entertained myself watching channels which we do not get here in Bangalore...which reminds me that there is this cute Spanish channel that I must ask my local cable wallah to provide...Has some amazing cartoon programs at around lunch time.
Considering that I had been briefed so extensively at my workplace and I had well rehearsed answers to most of the possible questions that were likely to come up, I must say that the interview was a damp squib...Lasted all of 44 seconds...To be more accurate, I wasted more time sitting and waiting than in the actual procedure. Of course, it wasn't all wasted since there was this really cute (okkk.. mebbe I am getting to that age where everyone 'seems' cute but still..) chick from TCS who was just ahead of me and a decent part of the 2 hours was spent in getting-to-know-each-other-better talk. Twas a realy pity that I was on a very tight schedule for the two days or else, mebbe, something might have transpired. Neway it was a relief to see that the old tricks still worked ;-) Btw, just in case you were wondering, the firangs were extrememly friendly and showed none of the attitude that symbolise their nation but I am still going to reserve judgement till I meet more of that species. Of course, I am biased but hey, thats me.
Any visit to Chennai is incomplete without the mandatory pilgrimage to that mother of all malls, Spencer Plaza ;-) Of course after Fun Republic in Ahmedabad, the malls of Mumbai and apna own Forum, there isn't anything new that I have come to expect but then Spencers has its own charm and I havenothing but fond memories of the hours I used to spend at Music World in 2001. So with L&M in tow and a good couple of hours to kill before dinner, we wandered around checking out CDs at MW, the tee sale at Pantaloons, Kashmiri Pashminas at a few random shops finally giving our credit cards some exposure to daylight at the Zodiac shop. My balance sheet now boasts of a cool red tie on the asset side and my cash situation is now down by Rs 499 on the liabilities side. Thankfully I did not yield to temptation at Cookie Man (still watching my weight, u see) and Landmarks (so many books so little time). Shopping with L&M can always be a very exhaustive affair for she's never sure about what she wants to buy and this time was no different but it was still a great couple of hours spent together. A real pity we could not do the movie thingy also.
Dinner happened at the Saravana Bhavan on Pondy Bazaar. The less the better. I have never been a huge fan of this chain and this particular franchisee (and the one on Peters road) definitely needs to be nominated under the category of most inefficiently managed restaurant. Being a group of 6, we had to wait for a good 30 minutes to even get a table whilst 2 old ladies, presumably gossiping about Metti Oli over soda lime, made me grow madder than I have ever been in the last 3 months. Why on earth did the patron let 2 people occupy a table of 6 beats me and why on earth do people pay such ridiculous prices for obviously pretentious food continues to evade logic....Chuck de...After dinner it was movie time and unfortunately for me, another good friend of mine BK (who I hope will one day graduate to better tastes if he wants to become an assistant in my first directorial venture) had decided that we had to see Kingdom of Heaven. I have never been a huge fan of epics, more so after my bitter experiences with Alexander and Troy, and watching gory hand-to-hand combats filmed in true Ridley Scott style (yeah, the guy who made that Gladiator) wasn't exactly a great tradeoff for hitting the sack early. Neways, we still saw it and while the movie worked much better on an emotional plane, the grand battle scenes weren't so novel and the heroine wasn't a hotty ;-) Or maybe I was just too weary after a long day to notice her sex appeal...wotevah !!
Saturday. Woke up late, had a cool brekka with makkal at Balaji Bhavan.. the place just hasn't changed.. absolutey great food at value-for-money prices...The rest of the morning was spent arguing with pirated CD vendors at Parrys corner over DVD bargains. Finally got a great deal (??) and bought an Indiana Jones collection (all 3 movies for Rs 75...DVD 9.0 mind it), a Tom Hanks collection (Ladykillers, Green Mile, Forrest Gump and Philadelphia all for Rs 75) and The Usual Suspects single (Rs 70). Came back home and checked out the print quality and have to admit that I can't believe its not a original. Long live video piracy. Next in line: The entire Yes Minister series, the F.R.I.E.N.D.S collection, The Sopranos collection and Sex and City series for FF. Happy days are back again :-)
Just in case I haven't emphasised how hot Chennai is, would you get the point if I told you that we decided to see yet another movie just to beat the Saturday afternoon heat..Yeah, this time it was that much touted Srikanth starrer Kana Kandein. Decent effort but to sum up the movie for you, here's what you can expect or rather you shudn't expect....
# Do NOT be misled by interviews and articles in Tamil film magazines that Gopika has acted 'boldly' and shared some steamy moments with Srikanth. There is absolutely NOTHING in the movie.
# Successful cameramen just do not make good mainstream storytellers - they simply flatter to deceive. Kindly add KV Anand to that illustrious list of predecessors like Santosh Sivan (Asoka), Rajeev Menon (Minsara Kanavu was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c and Kandukondein ^ 2 was passable at best), Thankar Bachan (Azhagi was good but Sollamarandha Kadhai was awful) and PC Sriram (Meera and Vaanam Vasapadum)
# Srikanth is good but not as good as this Mallu guy Prithviraj who plays the cool villain. Have to watch out for this dude.
Movie done, all of us returned home and played carrom till it was time to for me leave back for Bangalore. Another awesome trip to Chennai ended much before my liking. Thunder Mint at Gangotree, Airavath Bus journey, listening to Paheli on BKs car stereo....so many more memories but then this is getting too nostalgic now so I better call it quits. Can't wait to go back again for Appu's wedding. That should be fun and that time I think I should be able to meet up Rads, Zee, Sud and also do Kwiky's, Ispahani and probably an S.Ve Sekar play.
Currently listening: Chennai Senthamizh (MKSOM)
PS: Can neone tell me which Carnatic raga this song is based on and other popular filmi numbers that derive their source from the same raga..Treat assured.