CHENNAI: Theatre Thespian and former MLA S Ve Shekher has spent his entire life in the city. City Express catches up with one of the icons of Madras.
How long have you been here?
I was born in Triplicane in 1950. From 1951 I remember Chennai. We moved to Mandaveli in 1958.I have lived in this area my whole life, people know me. That’s why I don’t have to append degrees to my name like BA BSC MSC to identify myself.
What’s your favourite place in the city? Where do you go frequently?
Wherever I am, that is my favourite place... We have to keep updating ourselves. If, for instance, I say I like only TMS songs, people will say I’m old-fashioned. But most often, you can find me in drama halls, either staging a play or watching a play someone else has put up.
About Mandaveli area...
If you come this side, it’s fishermen and the seashore. If you go that side it’s Kabali temple and kutcheris. Everything is there in this stretch. Tell me what you can’t find in the Mada streets today?
Where would you take friends visiting our city for the first time?
Parthasarathy temple in Triplicane, maybe? But I would first ask what they want to see. Marina beach is generally a popular option. In the old days, it was Chennai Central and LIC building. Even in films, the city used to be identified this way.
Words in Madras baashai you would teach someone who visits?
Nallakeeriya? Thunnutiya? But frankly, there is no real Madras baashai anymore. It is only in movies that you see it being spoken... And of course you have the inaccurate depictions of Brahmin Tamil. And nowadays, several people can speak Tamil, but can’t write.
How has the city changed over the years?
Nowadays, people visiting exclaim, ‘The traffic has become so bad!’ Chennai has become overcrowded and there is no traffic discipline. Often you get confused if you’re driving on the right side — with so many people driving on the wrong side. The city has grown, but the infrastructure has not.
Any particular incident that stands out?
Several incidents since I got my first beating from father at the age of five!