In 90s, a youth speeding on a scooter in front of Changanassery SB College and Assumption College used to be a common sight. The handsome rider of the black Kinetic Honda would be wearing a flashy red helmet. Nobody gets to see him but by that time our hero would have won over all the girls in that area. Now, everybody would be wondering who is that hero. Well, it was Kunchacko Boban who came on a Hero Honda Splendour in Aniyathipravu and rode straight into the hearts of youngsters. Our one and only Chakochan. That was the time when there was only one hero for the campuses. As his latest film 'Allu Ramendran' is racing ahead in popularity charts, Kunchacko Boban goes down memory lane about the vehicles in his life.
"During college, I used to stay at a relative's house in Changanassery. For commuting to the college, my dad bought me my first vehicle, the then hot seller Kinetic Honda. The 'young one' among Bajaj, Rajdoot and others. The gearless scooter became my constant companion. We were so close that I was always seen with the scooter. Now red and yellow helmets are common. Those days that was not the case. People used to stare at me wearing the red helmet as if I am an alien. If it is now, I would have done 'freak youth' proud," says Chakochan as he reminisces about his college days.
Though he insists that he has no craze for vehicles, the first sight that greets you when you visit his house in Alappuzha is a Studebaker standing proudly in his garage. It is his grandfather Kunchacko Boban's. Next to it lies Chakochan's Porsche Cayenne.
When it comes to cars, Chakochan has only one condition, it should be comfortable. That is how he bought the Porsche. "It's a driver's car. If it is a car, it has to be like this. You don't get tired even during long journeys. The handling is that smooth. I take care of it like my wife," Chakochan says with a chuckle. He likes driving himself. If wife Priya is with him, the journey becomes more exciting.
“A Maruti 800 was my first car. Then, an accessory like a fog lamp used to be real luxury. I used to go for extra fittings to do up the car. The Porsche came to my garage after an Ambassador, a Premier Padmini, a Fiat and a Honda City. Among the cars that I owned, I still have a soft corner for the Honda City. I also developed a craze for collecting vehicles from films. That's how Iravikutty's Moped from 'Elsamma Enna Aankutty' became part of my collection. I had tried to buy the Splendour from 'Aniyathipravu' but did not succeed in my attempt."
A car for Priya
"The first film that I acted after marriage was 'Kilukkam Kilukilukkam'. The location was in Ooty. We decided to make the most of it. I love driving. So, I took Priya and went straight to Ooty. Priya also knows driving. She has surprised me with her driving skills. There are certain things that are attributed to women drivers. For example, even though they are expert drivers, some women lean forward while driving. Priya is totally different from them. By the looks of it, she could be driving effortlessly. But, actually, she could be searching for the brake pedal. She prefers me behind the wheels. If asked she will says she is comfortable. I believe that a good driver should be able to provide the feeling of safety to his or her passengers. Thank God, I haven't met with any accidents till now. I am praying for that record to continue."
One kilometre per 10 litre
“How do you explain a vehicle's mileage? It could be 10 km for a litre of fuel. Though it is grand in its looks, dad's Studebaker used to be a petrol guzzler. It needs about 10 litres of petrol to cover a kilometre. The car used to take me to school and back. There are a lot of stories involving the Studebaker."
"I was studying in class 10 at Alappuzha Carmel School. The Studebaker had come to take me home. But the vehicle could not start. When the driver continuously tried to start the vehicle, it burnt all the petrol in the tank. We had to bring petrol in a big can to start the vehicle and go home. People used to ask me about the mileage of the car. I tell them in jest that it needs five litres to start and the rest you can guess."
"Another feature of the car was its power brake. The vehicle used to stop suddenly. While I was studying in class 4, on a Sunday I was going to the church along with my dad and mom. I was doing some mischief sitting in the back seat. Dad suddenly applied brake and I was thrown forward, with my face hitting the dash. Later I have heard people telling that I broke my nose and I bled profusely."
"Later, we sold this 'drunkard'. It was bought by the vintage car specialist in Kochi Santhosh of ATS Motors. Years went by. I was becoming busy in the film industry. One day I met Santhosh-chettan. He popped an unexpected question - do you want that old Studebaker back? Since a lot of my dad's memories are surrounding it, I wanted to get it back. That's how he returned to our garage. My mother was the happiest to see him back. He is also a star in films. In 'Lal Salam' Madhu's Medayil Ittichan was seen alighting from the Studebaker. Now, we are trying to fix his excessive thirst. All set for his 60th birthday, you can see him on the road very soon," Chakochan concluded.