It was the year 1999. I was in my first year of college. The film Mudhalvan had hit the theatres. It must have been the month of November. I don't remember the exact date. But I do remember that Mudhalvan was running full house.
I did my Engineering in a college in Pondicherry, in the outskirts of Dindivanam bypass. To come to Pondy, we had to take a bus and as the college was 14 Kilo meters away from the city, it would take use 30 minutes to come to Pondy.
In our college hostel, we would play music cassettes and that would be a rage all the time. Mudhalvan songs were played all the time. And as college students, we learnt the art of bunking classes. The boys did two things when we bunked classes
1) Go to hostel, get drunk and sleep
2) Go to Pondy and watch a movie.
I think it was December. I remember this because the hostel was decorated with Christmas lights and all. We decided to bunk college and go to Pondy to watch a movie. As Mudhalvan was still running houseful shows, we thought of watching it. A few of our friends had not watched the movie yet and so we all started our long 30 minute travel to Pondy.
The first theatre that welcome us in Pondy was the Muruga theatre ( after Gorimedu). Some Ram Naryanan movie was playing there. Then we crossed Ajantha, Ananda, Jayaram and finally reached Balaji theatre. We did not get the tickets for Mudhalavan and we were disappointed. But we decided to watch some movie before we made our way back. And that's when we saw this movie poster of a tonsured man. It was Raja theatre.
We did not know who the hero was and we had no clue who the heroine was. But Illayaraja was the director of the movie and some director who had worked as an assistant to Balu Mahendra had directed it. Most of us were not interested to watch that movie. Reluctantly we went it, because we needed to spend 2 hours in a A/C theatre.
We were still angry at some of our friends because if they had started early, we would have got tickets for Mudhalvan. Soon, the lights were gone. And the movie started. When the hero was introduced, he was introduced as a rowdy hero. One of our friends remembered him and said that this is the same guy who acted in the Oh Butterfly song.
Slowly the anger disappeared and we started liking the movie. The movie went pretty fast and this kind of direction was never seen before. During the intervals, when the lights were switched on, we were shell shocked, because the breaking the hero's head was the interval block scene. During the interval, we were all praises for the director and we were heaping praises for Balu Mahendra for producing a gem of a director. And soon the second half begun. We went from shocked to sadness, to shell shocked. Never in the past were we taken through such a shocker of a ride by a movie. This was not we had expected when we started seeing the movie. And finally when the movie ended, we left the theatre with a heavy heart. We did not know whether to praise the director or curse the director. But we knew that we had just watched a super hit movie. Back then, when we hated a movie, we would go and tell our friends that the movie was really great. It was our way of pranking our friends. So when we went around and told our friends that the movie Sethu was good, no one believed us.
Sethu was a slow starter. But it ran till Tamil new year day of 2000. More than 100 days. Soon the songs in that movie were used by college students in Inter college competitions. Bala had arrived. B