COIMBATORE: When Kovai auto driver Chandrakumar penned a novel in 2006 narrating the brutality he suffered in a police lock-up in Andhra Pradesh, little did he realise that his work will take him to the heights of fame nine years later.
M Chandrakumar alias ‘Auto’ Chandran, a novelist in his spare time, fled from his home in Coimbatore to Guntur in Andhra Pradesh when he was in his 20s in 1983. In a cruel twist of fate, he along with three of his friends were illegally detained and beaten up black and blue by the police for nearly 13 days for a crime that he did not commit.
Decades later, in 2006, Chandran wrote the Tamil novel Lock Up, narrating the agony and pain he suffered in the hands of the cops, which later became the story line of noted director Vetrimaran’s film Visaranai in 2014, which has now been selected for screening in the Venice International Film Festival this month.
“This is for the first time in the century-old history of Tamil cinema that a Tamil film has been selected for the festival,” said Chandrakumar, who is flying to Venice on September 8 to watch the screening.
“Visaranai is the only Tamil film among the 20 movies selected from a total of 2,000 films from as many as 120 countries across the world. Produced by actor Dhanush, Visaranai competes in the Orizzonti competitive category at the International Venice Film Festival,” said Chandrakumar.
Recounting how his novel went on to become a movie, Chandrakumar, now 52, said, “I narrated my experiences at the lock-up to my friend Gnani alias Thangavelan. Thangavelan who had worked with noted filmmaker Balumahendra in a few movies, suggested that I pen my experiences, which came out as Lock Up in 2006. Again, it was Thangavelan who presented a copy of it to director Vetrimaran.”
Chandrakumar was surprised when he got a phone call from Vetrimaran, who congratulated him on his work and said that he was interested to make Lock Up into a film. “I was in tears while watching Visaranai being filmed in the same spot at Guntur, where I once wandered,” said he.
On why the movie is crucial, Chandrakumar said: “Since police brutality isn’t confined to one country, I even suggested to Vetrimaran to dedicate Visaranai to all suffering in the hands of cruel cops in various countries.” An author of many books including Boomiyai Kolaikalamaakkum America, Kovayil Jeeva and Eriyum Pattatharasi, Chandrakumar finds time to write only during the waiting time in the middle of a savaari or amid heavy traffic.