A Tribute to the Late Mr Gandhi: The First Kollywood Hero in my Life

When I mean Kollywood Hero, I do not refer to the typical lover boy sort whose only ambition in life is get married to the girl he has stalked to the extent she reciprocates his feelings at the expense of everyone and anyone around him.

I refer to the real hero who is definitely larger than life. One who commands respect and loyalty among his people. A true friend who understands and appreciates friendship. One who respects elders and helps everyone and anyone around him. A person who will go the extra mile for anyone in need. One who genuinely cares for the people and the community. The Real Kollywood Hero. 

If you are still in doubt, think Kandukondein Kandukondein, I am definitely not referring to Abass or Ajith, who are just jujubes  in the film. I am referring to Mamooty. The Real Indian Hero. The first Indian Hero I met in my life was in  March 2015. 

I met Gandhi on 21 March 2015 for a period of approximately 50 hours. This was my maiden trip to India. I had gone to North India for a friend's wedding in Maharashtra. I decided to venture down south to Tamil Nadu on my own. I reached Chennai in a 18 hour train journey from Amravati, Nagpur.  Gandhi was my chaperone for 3 days I was to spend in Chennai before I venture further south on my own.

Everything I knew about India, especially Chennai was through cinema. I did have friends and relatives from India. But my personal and only connection to India was through Indian cinema. The 50 hours or so I spent in Chennai was pretty much a Tamil film. It had everything that a Kollywood Chartbuster would have, minus the pretty heroines. From the Car Ride to Pondicherry to whatever that happens in Pondi stays in Pondi to the surprise birthday party with 20 brothers I have never met before to a drive in theatre experience at Prarthana to the countless biryanis to freshly brewed  Sundakanji in the wee hours of the morning which we went to collect in the kuppams. We even had the fair share of drama. Which Indian Movie would be complete without some trouble with the authorities. We were nearly "invited back to the police station" for some alleged misconduct only to see my new friends talking it out with the cops. Entertainment wise, nothing beats blasting music in your car in the middle of the road and cracking open your own dance floor. I even remember the dance moves you started busting. The meal your mother prepared for me is definitely the best meal I had in India. 

I was just a friend of a friend to you. But the love and hospitality you showered me is something that I will remember for years to come. The phrase "vaazhavaikkum Chennai" made sense after I met you. The way you carried yourself, your mannerisms, your influence and the respect people clearly had for you. You will forever be my first and true Indian Hero.

Your passing is a painful reminder of how short and unpredictable life can be. Take care brother. Rest in Peace. You will always be in my thoughts. 

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