Auto-matic transition to the filmy world

An auto-driver from Coimbatore saw the film adaptation of his novel take him all the way to the Venice Film Festival
It’s the stuff of fairy tales — 53-year-old auto driver from Coimbatore, M. Chandrakumar took out his trusty vehicle one fine day and set out to earn his living, just as he had done for the last 27 years. To normal customers, he comes across as another hard-working, smiling face they meet during the day. But to people who know him well he is a seasoned writer with a penchant for writing gripping novels that question the very nature of humanity — a passion that’s now led him all the way to the prestigious Venice Film Festival!
“It all began when a close friend of mine, Gnani aka Thankavelavan read one of my books, Lock Up, which is a real-life account of a brutal ordeal some friends of mine and I went through in Andhra Pradesh by the police, when I was 19 years old! I always wanted to document that saga, and finally published it a few years ago. My friend wanted to adapt it into a screenplay for a film, and I was more than happy to let him. But soon, one thing led to another, and director Vetrimaaran came on board wanting to adapt it and direct the film!” exclaims Auto Chandran, as he’s fondly known.
Yes, it was the Aadukalam director and Kaaka Muttai producer who was impressed with the tale, and promised Chandran that he would be given the credit for the story. Before long Visaranai, with a stellar cast comprising the likes of Attakathi Dinesh and Samuthirakani was made and premiered in Venice, where this humble auto driver watched it along with thousands of film personalities, celebrities and journalists from across the world! In fact, it was the first Tamil film to enter in a competitive category at the renowned festival in its 72-year history.
Talking about the book, he says, “Lock Up had already been recognised as ‘The best document of human rights’ several years ago – but imagine my joy when the film also won the ‘Cinema for Human Rights’ award in Venice! The unheard voice of my struggles, which had been suppressed for over three decades, is finally resounding across the globe.”
“Along with the award, Visaranai also screened to a ovation, along with many tears from me. Not to mention, actors like Samuthirakani and Dinesh took such amazing care of me, like I was part of their family. This entire experience of spending a week in Italy not only enlightened me about world of cinema, but also reaffirmed in me that man cannot be held back by physical boundaries and that the entire world is ours,” he smiles, proudly.
Auto Chandran, who also has several other published works to his credit, returned from his incredible trip just a couple of weeks ago, and has since returned to duty. “In fact, I drove my auto even today morning! I’m quite content with my life. But at the same time, this success has reignited the fire in me. This will be the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I’m already in talks with directors and writers to associate with cinema, but my bigger goal is to work with young aspiring directors and film students in the city, motivate them, and impart whatever knowledge I have of the arts to them,” he says in conclusion.
( Source : deccan chronicle )
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