Monday, April 18, 2005

ChRRaNaM's Road Trip to Thalaivar-ville!

A week of feverish planning culminated in the incorporation of ChRRaNaM (Chapman Road Rajini Narpani Manram, named so by me), comprising of seven individuals (one of whom did not know neither a word of Thamizh nor the existence of the manram). This is an organization formed with the aim of making it to New Jersey on time to watch Chandramukhi. The aim was not too lofty, but I think you must read on to decide if we achieved our goal completely.

After much deliberation and a review of available finances, we decided that the original intention of driving to NJ early Saturday morning to watch the noon show at the Pathmark 13 Cinema at North Bergen was not viable due to the high insurance costs for the rental car. We decided to shoot for the 10:30 show on Friday, returning back to our base at Newark in the wee hours of Saturday. It was decided that I would drive us back to Newark, while S, being the more experienced driver would drive us down there. The tickets were booked and the car, an Altima, was commandeered from one of the local Enterprise offices.

Two hours before we were due to leave, I decided that this road trip would be incomplete without appropriate music blaring out from the car’s CD player. I had heard so much folklore about a memorable road trip made by other Thalai fans between St. Louis and Chicago (a 4 hour drive each way) for the first show of Baba a couple of years ago, that we, at ChRRaNam had to simply do something equally huge. Again, whether we did or not, seems irrelevant now, but I like to think we tried. So, I hustled up Thalai’s intro songs from previous movies and compiled a CD with classics like “Oruvan Oruvan”, “Podhuvaga En Manasu” right up to “Devuda”. Of course, there were one or two exceptions (i.e. non intro songs), but memorable thalaivar songs nevertheless.

Five or six miles into our drive, we ran into our first snag that brought forth continuous ribbing from the others directed towards the self proclaimed “World’s Best Navigator”, i.e. me. We, rather I, missed a sign board and we found ourselves on I-295 rather than I-95. A good hour before the show, we found ourselves approaching exit 18W (NJ 3 toward Secaucus/Rutherford). That’s was due to the lack of vital info in our map, a redundant detail usually, but made very relevant by the fact that all of us were new to New Jersey. A close shave followed with a huge trailer bearing past us on the left fork with its horn blaring. Another close shave followed, this time a car braking hard to avoid us on the right. I think the driver realized our predicament and merely reversed a few yards to avoid us and continued on his way on 3 East. We however decided to go on 3 West and ended up in the parking lot of a stadium complex (seemed to be the Continental Arena, the home of the New Jersey Nets). We took a 15 minute drive back in the opposite direction, took a U turn and proceeded on 3 East. Another wrong turn later (with half hour remaining now), we pulled into a gas station on NJ 1/9 South and were told to “take a U turn at the second light and drive in the opposite direction to go to the theatre”. What followed was a nightmare, with around 2 miles of traffic proceeding at about a meter at a time, due to road work!

By this time, the guys in the other car, who had been a mile or so behind us when we were on I 95 had already reached the venue and started directing us to the Plaza 12 theatre over the phone. We gave up after a 15 minute drive in the general vicinity and went into a gas station. By this time, we realized that the guys in the other car “could be at the wrong theatre” since the ad that I had printed out, was for “Pathmark 13 Cinemas”. The gas station attendant directed us to the cinema, which he said was just a 5 minute drive. We landed finally at Pathmark, a good 35 minutes after the movie started, with the other guys already inside (they were in there, but had been confusing Plaza 12 with Pathmark 13, while directing us!). We staggered into the empty foyer and were directed towards Hall 1. By this time, I was thoroughly pissed after my navigating gaffes and the subsequent ribbing (which I realize now, on hindsight was totally good natured) and decided that another couple of minutes would not matter and made my way to the loo. Ya, that’s right, I chose the loo over a Thalaivar movie. Sacrilege, I know, but that was how "pissed" I was.

I walked into Hall 1, a few minutes later and found the whole hall reverberating with “Repeatu”. The other ChRRaNaM members were still waiting to see where we could sit and I pulled them towards the second row, which seemed to be the only place where there was a group of seats available. We sat down and I leaned over to the guy in the next seat (was sitting at the end of the group) and asked him how much I had missed. My grin matched Thalai’s on the screen as I heard the words “Maximum 10 minutes, Sir”. And that was when I realized that all was not wrong and the movie had been delayed by half hour! I then had the whale of a time whistling in response to Thalai!

I walked out during the interval and then got the first taste of the pleasant bizarre experience that has since made me term it as “a bizarro Thiruvizha”. I was accosted by two different people who converged on me at the same time with the words – “Dei, nee enna da inga panra” (What are you doing here?). One was a friend’s brother and the other, an acquaintance that I had made during our IMS CAT coaching classes at Stella Maris. And looking around, I could recognize at least two other people who I knew from Chennai, but who probably did not recognize me. I also saw a girl from my days in Thanjavur, but being a “Mechu P**** Mavan” (as Badri calls me, referring to my degree in Mechanical Engineering with the word “Mechu”), I could not obviously approach this gal without getting raised eyebrows from her (if she still remembered me). He he… I then found a friend from school, sitting three rows behind us, who grinned at me as soon as I noticed him. Another 5 minute catching up followed before the movie resumed again. But that was not all, driving back to Newark, I met a junior from Shanmugha who had been at the same movie and was driving back to Philly. We met at a rest area where we stopped to catch some dinner to fill our growling stomachs. Whewwwwwwww….

As for ChRRaNaM, I think we will disband it as soon as we settle the financial issues arising out of this trip. So, do you think ChRRaNaM served its purpose?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chicago to St. Louis ??? That sounds pedestrian when compared to the Portland, OR to San Jose, CA that we did for Baba.... a good 14 hour drive....

Too bad our remarkably incredible journey did not feature anywhere in the press....

Tut... tut.. tut...

anantha said...

Whoa.. Whoa... why dont you leave your name and mebbe i can give you the coverage.... I am ethical and never feature non-attributable quotes ;)

capriciously_me said...

alls well that ends with a thalaivar padam :D totally worth it eh?

anantha said...

ya.. TOTALLY WORTH IT!

sensiblystoned said...

Hi Anti(or should I greet you with lakalakalakalaka)

I could have countered chandramukhi and your invective against the true thalai of acting, in my blog. But after seeing your blog it would be more pertinent here in your blog.

Anti, I was one among the multitude who made it to cine plaza, north bergen, NJ(which you call pathmark/cinema 13). I was there on saturday for the 8pm show. If I remember correctly, which I do, the whole audience had quite a laugh at your thalais expense. Hold on to your horses, Im not anti rajini or anti anybody, I watch almost every goddamn movie chruned out by kollywood and hollywood. With as critical an eye which is equally neutral.

First things first, unfortunately with age rajini has lost his spark and this shows glaringly in his dialogue delivery. With none of his trademark fast paced dialogue delivery, rajinis tamil stinks of a strong kannada accent. If you noticed it with a more critical eye/ear you could have heard words like bhest and rhest. (which should have been best and rest)

Second, agreed rajini is getting is old and he cannot always make a padayappa. Taken and we are waiting for different things. If so, why do we see two disjointed fight scenes which have no relevance to the scene. We are waiting to see and accept what is shown but just because your thalai makes a movie after years, which is better than his previous debacle, it neednt be deemed a hit.

Incidentally, like I mentioned earlier, you should have been in the screen I was sitting in. Discerning audiences who were there to see a good movie, had rollicking fun when rajini decided to showcase his histrionic skills. Im not given to exaggerations.

His double meaning comedy, actually everybody knew what was said and in the true meaning it was said, was in bad taste. So nothing to write home about the comedy too. There was no comedy in the movie, in fact many people thought rajini to be the comedy and I would definitely agree.

And we could have all done without many close up shots of rajini and his unique color of lipstick. Again im not anti anybody, I give and take where criticisms are due. So, im going to wait and see the original and mumbai express.

anantha said...

hmmm, come to think of it, some of your grouses are mine too! Check out the post down below!

JaganLee said...

Good sum-up of ur exp. Yeah, when u go to thalaivar's movie, chinna vayasula veeta vittu odi pona chithap chitti ellarayum paakalaam. Its a great gettogether.

Tat Tvam Asi (a.k.a) The Ultimate Reality said...

So,you missed the intro scene? If so, you have missed something inur life. :-(

anantha said...

No, I did not miss it, cos I already saw it before I left for New Jersey... Rajinifans.com had 2 minute intro clip uploaded for everyone to see.. And all of us who saw the clip earlier, missed the first 5 mins of the movie :(

Maharajan said...

Thanks, Anti.
Yeah, it was a memorable trip for a not-so memorable movie... I should probably write some kind of a travelogue or whatever about it.. and I shall send you the link... and I would greatly appreciate it if you could post a link...
posting it in a highly visible blog like yours might give it the much needed publicity I think it deserves...
PS:
There was this boisterous crowd behind our row at the Chicago screening of Chandramukhi... I heard mentions of Peoria and Tanjore in some comments... was wondering if you were part of the crowd... but, now I know you werent... :)

anantha said...

Mahararajan.. Sure.. anuppunga...But "highly visible blog" nu solli enna romba ethi vidareeenga.. All ready naan thalaikku mela eri dingu dingu nu aadaren nu ore complaints, idhula neenga vera ippadi sollreenga ;) Boss, for all the descriptions of being a highly visible blog, I only get max 10 or 12 comments for each post :p And that, thankfully for my closest friends, keeps me on level ground :D

As for the Peoria/Tanjore mentions from the row behind you, if u were watching in Chicago on Saturday morning, that might have just been my roomie/best friend and my other friends in Chicago. I was living with them till a couple of weeks ago...

dev2r said...

Here's my plan for watching CM:
1) Get in car
2) Drive for 30 minutes to Kansas City
3) Watch movie
4) Return

What kind of backward area do you live in that doesn't have a screening? :p

anantha said...

yo...I right now live in Newark, DE and I used to live in Peoria, IL. Both these "cities" are 2 hrs from the nearest desi hotbed (NJ and Chicago respectively). The movie might release in Philly (40 mins away) some day, but the experience counts only for the first day!

So has the movie released at Kansas City yet?

dev2r said...

ermm... in 2 weeks :D

anantha said...

Appram enna pechu :p

thennavan said...

Anti, I changed your city from Athens to NJ areas. Good to read that you had a whale of a time seeing Thalaivar padam. Take care.

Shashi said...

dude,
i live like a 5 min away from North Bergen theatre..we could have met...anyways some other time..

anantha said...

Thennavan: Thanx

Shashi: Dude, I did not know that, did I :p And in any case, with the amount of driving around we did (cos of my poor navigation), I am not sure my friends would have been ok with that ;)