CHENNAI: You may have heard his commentary while watching the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League on Star Sports. Or spotted him as one of Ajith’s brothers in Veeram. He has captained the Madras Cricket Club too. Suhail Chandhok has more than a mouthful to say about Namma Chennai.
What’s the one factor that is special about our city?
Life is not a rat race and even though ambition is high and people are successful, they do it at their own pace. The ability to be in work mode one moment and just as easily switch to a laid back approach is like no other city.
What’s the best hangout spot?
Right at home with my dog and family, because I’m barely there these days and our house has generally been open — friends always land up and are instantly part of the furniture here. We’ve had our cook for 25 years and it’s hard to want to eat anywhere else.
A historic place you admire?
The Madras Cricket Club is an integral part of the city’s sporting culture. It’s like a second home to me. I have some great memories of the place...dreaming of playing there one day to then actually captaining the MCC and having some very memorable moments as a professional sportsman there before my knee surgeries.
A funny thing that happened?
As one of those sweet things you do for a brother (Racer Karun Chandhok), I decided to put together a pretty mean video for his wedding where I took to the streets and asked random people to speak their messages for my sister-in-law. I told them she was an educated, successful woman marrying a boy who just wanted to be a driver all his life (the Formula 1 part just slipped my lips somehow). The messages asking her not to marry him were downright hilarious until at one point it turned on me when someone recognised me from my role in Veeram and asked why I was now taking only street videos.
What’s the first place you would take a visitor?
Growing up, we would always hang out at Besant Nagar Beach, which is probably why I now absolutely love the Covelong Surf School, the ideal place for someone who loves the ocean and the outdoors.
Three words in Madras bashai you would teach someone?
Thayir (I can’t live a day without it), Manga Madaya (because everyone needs to know a fruitful insult) and Machaan (because you can take a man out of Madras but not Madras out of a man)
The most romantic place here?
One of my favourite places has to be the bay at Fisherman’s Cove! The chef is amazing and it is one of the most incredible settings with the moonlight illuminating a path from the ocean to your table. It’s one of those places that really hasn’t lost its charm and the cottages with the hammocks still make for a perfect little getaway!
What’s special about Madras people?
I always say Madras has very real people who are often the same as what you see on the outside. The ability to show real concern for one another is something you don’t find often and it was showcased amazingly through the recent floods. Our home was underwater till the first floor but the way the neighbourhood supported itself was pretty amazing!
A little about your area?
I’ve lived in Kotturpuram for over 25 years and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I spent days on end at the tennis courts behind my house (which are now apartments of course) and have the fondest memories of learning to ride and drive in my neighbour’s property. My cricket-playing days began with kids from the Surya Nagar slums behind our home and I’m glad that our family’s Vishnu Devananda Charitable Trust is able to support the education of kids from the area