What was it like to accompany actor Ajith Kumar on a biking trip? Suhail Chandhok, who makes his film debut with Veeram, shares his experience
Sports and the performing arts are in his blood. As a third generation member of the Chandhok family that has been actively involved in motorsport, one expected Suhail Chandhok to follow in the footsteps of his F1 driver-brother Karun Chandhok, ex-rally driver father Vicky Chandhok and grandfather Indu Chandhok. “But for some strange reason, I loved theatre, tennis and cricket. At one stage of my life, I had two choices — study theatre at Trinity College, London, or pursue a career in cricket in Australia. I opted for the latter and made some headway in professional cricket when disaster struck in the form of two knee injuries, one after the other, which ended my cricketing career.”
Returning to Chennai, Suhail made a short video which some of his friends uploaded on YouTube. To encourage his son, Vicky sent the link to racer, motorsport enthusiast and actor Ajith Kumar. Impressed with what he saw, Ajith suggested that Suhail should do a screen test for director Siva who was making Veeram in which the actor was the hero.
Suhail plays the youngest of five brothers, Ajith being the oldest, in Veeram. “Before the shoot, Siva told me, 'Trust yourself'. And, my first day of shoot was with Ajith! His calmness, gentlemanly behaviour and the respect he gives to everyone puts you so much at ease that I got into the groove almost immediately,” says Suhail. His earlier experiences with Kung Fu, boxing and fitness programmes stood him in good stead during the fight scenes. “Selva is a good stunt master and helps get the best out of you in the action sequences.”
Being born in a family of motorsport enthusiasts, Suhail was keen on biking. He had got himself a Yamaha R1 in 2010, but immediately after his knee injury happened and it took him almost a year to be back in the saddle. “But I never got a chance to do any serious long distance road trips, till recently. Ajith had got himself a BMW 1000 RR and was also raring to go on a road trip. It so happened that we had a week's break in between schedules and we decided to hit the highway. With all safety precautions such as world-class riding gear and a back-up crew in place, we set out on a 1100 km journey, to and fro. We did the entire trip at a controlled speed, following all safety norms and employing gadgetry such as GPS, only to create awareness that rides can be enjoyable and safe even on high-speed vehicles. Ajith is a great advocate of safe riding techniques and practices. It was a pleasure accompanying him on a road trip and I have learnt a lot of restraint and riding etiquette from our joint effort,” concludes Suhail.