It sure does take a great deal of research to make a movie with a realistic story. I recently watched one such Tamil movie called Angadi Theru (Eng: Market Street). This heart wrenching movie revolves around life in a mega-sized store on one of Chennai’s busiest streets-one which is literally home to countless men, women, shops, and businesses.
Life on Ranganathan Street
If you have ever been to Chennai’s Ranganathan Street and shopped at the all famous Saravana Stores, you would understand exactly what I am talking about. Not only in Chennai, but cities across the state of Tamil Nadu are home to some mega-sized stores that sell practically everything under the sun. Apparels for all ages and gender, jewelry, household articles, home appliances, footwear, bed and bath products, cosmetics- just about anything you could dream of.
Way different from the plush retails in malls, these stores cater to all income clientele.
When I first visited one in Chennai, I was left speechless. Products piled one on top of another, with not an inch spared. The ceilings in the home section, hung steel utensils that shimmered in the light around. The 20,000 square feet store employed over a hundred odd staff. Dressed in neat uniforms, they stood at every junction, across counters, ready to help with a smile. Most of them seemed to be in the age bracket between of 20-30(some even younger). Their job involved being at the store from dawn to almost midnight, attending to varied customers and some of their tantrums, running odd errands for the store manager, counting stock, tallying cash and serving tea.
To me, they seemed to be running the show, in some way
As I sifted through the pile of saris, I struck conversation with the young sales girl in front me. She was twenty she said, and had left her village in Thirunelveli district (Naranammalpuram, a village with hardly 800 houses), as there weren’t colleges to pursue higher education, nor were there opportunities to earn an income. The store provided her accommodation and meals, which otherwise would be expensive on her pocket in a metro such as Chennai. With the income she earned, she was able to save a few rupees and also send money to her family back in the village. I asked her if she was happy this way. She just smiled and said, “This is my work, and there’s dignity in it”.
It was noon by then, and the wilting look on each of their faces spoke an untold story. Some seemed desperate to leave the store for the half an hour lunch break. There was a quick swap at the counter to ensure that I was attended to. I looked up to see another smiling boy in front of me. “You would look good in green. Shall I show you some more prints in that colour?” he politely asked me. I quickly made my choice from what lay in front of me, and proceeded to the billing counter.
Somewhere deep down, I had begun to empathize with these young girls and boys.
They were away from home and home sick, with long working hours, and having to stand all day. I made a mental note, that the next time I visited the store; I must look up from my shopping and give them a smile, acknowledging their presence. That’s the least I could do.