Way back in the 1970s, whenever we visited Madras, as Chennai was known then, we almost always stayed with mother's uncle and his family. The tiny home was in a part of Madras that was practically next door to the area where movie-making activities where clustered.
Without fail, somebody or the other would point a home that was a metaphorical stone throw away from the uncle's home and say, "Sharada lives in that house." Yes, the movie actor Sharada. I would then eagerly look at the house, hoping to catch a sight of her, but never, ever did. Almost round the corner from her place, I was told, was the singer, SP Balasubramanian's. I never saw SPB either.
Some time then was when I saw my first Malayalam movie, which was also the first movie that I watched that starred Sharada. "Triveni" was the movie, which, come to think of it, was perhaps one I watched at the local Park Club in Neyveli.
Anyway, after all those years, I remember all too well the song from that movie that I tracked down:
Later in life, with the dawn of the television era, I watched a few movies of Sharada's--the "arty" ones that Doordharshan telecast every once in a while. I looked forward to those, which were always subtitled making it easier for people like me to follow along.
The best one of them all was a wonderful movie by Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Google helped me tracking that down: Elippathayam. I am so glad that one of my favorite scenes from there is on YouTube:
Quite a few years have gone by since all these. It is ten years since that uncle died. My last trip to Chennai, I took a detour via that place when going somewhere else. It has gone through such a transformation that there is nothing that I can identify from the old days.
Those were the days, my friend!