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Guess what? This car is a star too

ROAD TO FAME Raju's Chevrolet Impala has featured in many films PHOTO: K. PICHUMANI

ROAD TO FAME Raju's Chevrolet Impala has featured in many films PHOTO: K. PICHUMANI  

This car has been hobnobbing with film stars, then and now. What's special about it?

This Chevrolet Impala convertible is an attention-grabber. At first sight, it appears to be vintage. A closer inspection and it does not pass muster. It will be disqualified primarily on the count of originality. The car often changes its colour. A diesel engine has taken the place of the six-cylinder petrol engine. Its registration number has also changed from MRZ 2233 to TMZ 2233. Why then is this car special?

Because it has been hobnobbing with film stars. From M.G. Ramachandran to Ajit. From K.R. Vijaya to Simran. The car shot to fame with the movie Nalla Neram (remake of the Rajesh Khanna-Tanuja starrer Haathi Mera Saathi). MGR romances K.R. Vijaya, singing "Ahattumda Thambi Raja" even as an elephant pulls the convertible. Incidentally, it was a reprise for the vehicle as it was pulled by a pachyderm in the Hindi original too.

These films signalled what was in store for the car — providing space for duets. But it has not always been a romance-filled ride. In films such as Mirudanga Chakravarthy (Prabhu and Sulakshana) and Paaramparyam (Pandiarajan and Nirosha), the star car was involved in "accidents".

Sometimes, for a change, it would be at the receiving end during a climax. Remember Unnai Thedi? But such damage is no dampener for owner Raju to let his car star in films. "The film unit takes care of the repair charges."

The car's fame is not restricted to the Tamil film industry. It has been a scene-stealer in Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films as well. Now it has made its foray into advertisements too. Its most popular appearance till date: Shah Rukh Khan summoning a cab from his Airtel mobile so that Kareena, stuck on the road due to a fallen tree, can be on time for a shoot. And no prizes for guessing which is the German red convertible that pulls up in a jiffy.

After 40 films and advertisements, the convertible is still going strong. Reason for its longevity: "It is not on the road, except when it has to feature in a film."

PRINCE FREDERICK

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