Had no idea that it’ll make me a celebrity: Auto Chandran, the man behind India’s Oscar entry Visaranai

By: | Published: September 29, 2016 8:26 AM

Few instances in life are capable of changing your life altogether but it an incidence from his younger days in 1983 will make him a celebrity after 33 years, that's a story!

Besides his recollection of this chilling incident in his books Lock Up and Lock Up-2, Chandrakumar(centre) has also written few books in Tamil, some essays on imperialism and history of terrorism and on atrocities against Dalits. (Source: IE)Besides his recollection of this chilling incident in his books Lock Up and Lock Up-2, Chandrakumar(centre) has also written few books in Tamil, some essays on imperialism and history of terrorism and on atrocities against Dalits. (Source: IE)

Few instances in life are capable of changing your life altogether but it an incidence from his younger days in 1983 will make him a celebrity after 33 years, that’s a story! And M Chandrakumar aka Auto Chandran is the living legend of this one. The man, an auto driver by profession is the real life inspiration behind India’s 2017 Oscar entry ‘Visaranai’.

Tamil film Visaranai, which has been directed by Vetrimaran and produced by Dhanush is a gritting tale of how innocents sometimes become the scrape goats of the system. The movie has been inspired from Auto Chandran’s novel Lock Up. The book did fairly well, with over 5,000 copies sale and Chandrakumar believed that his story was told but looks like destiny had bigger plans for him.

The man of the hour is unaffected by the glitz and glamour that has poured in all of a sudden. He still is a humble auto driver, his daughter is a postgraduate in photography and he is happy proof reading and writing as a pastime while his house runs on his meager Rs 500 per day auto earnings.

Besides his recollection of this chilling incident in his books Lock Up and Lock Up-2, Chandrakumar has also written few books in Tamil, some essays on imperialism and history of terrorism and on atrocities against Dalits.

“I didn’t write this book hoping that it would make me a celebrity, I never thought that it will take me to the Venice festival where some among the audience apologized to me for all that suffering, some were in tears. But at a time when we increasingly see a lot of custodial deaths and extra-judicial killings, I thank Vetrimaran for picking up my story. Books and movies should speak the life of people,” Chandran says.

He says there’s no change in his life besides the recognition the film has brought to him.

The incident that Visarnai is based on happened in March 1983, when Chandran had run away from his home and landed in Guntur. One day when he was working at his hotel as a helper, he along with a few others was picked by the Police for a theft accusation. What followed was weeks of torture for something he did not commit. All that the Police was concerned was confession. After two weeks of detention, he was imprisoned in Guntur jail for five and a half months. The confession was made by him only because he was told that the others have as well.

After getting released in 1984, Chandran tried finding his other two mates from the traumatic period but never succeeded. He still has some fond memories from Guntur and hopes to visit the place again.

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