Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Fugitives – Chapter 3

Katrina Kaif gyrates inside the plasma screen. She turns her body towards the viewer and raises her leg in rhythmic intervals. A small bottle that is passed off as a quarter of a local drink dangles from her narrow waist line. She pouts and raises her eye brows alternatively. She is here to titillate and provoke. The boys around her seem to be really provoked. Her movements are quite familiar because these are the same movements choreographed for different item girls in the Bollywood.

“Rakhee Sawant could have done a better job,” says Alok and he turns around to see Ishaan sleeping on the sofa. His head tilts towards the left and it presses against his left hand folded into an unintended triangle. His right hand rests on his chest that moves slowly up and down. He looks absolutely careless about the situation.

“What am I doing here?” Alok asks himself. He just does not understand the pace in which things have been happening in his life. “I should say in our live,” he mutters himself while looking at Ishaan. He wants to go, hug him and sleep by his side. If possible he wants to get an entry into his dreams if at all his is having some right now. In the next moment Alok feels like kicking Ishaan’s butt for bringing him into this situation. He controls his urges to sleep or kick and turns back to the television. Katrina has gone and her place has been taken by another zero size girl who after doing an item number and some cameo appearances in a couple of movies got married to Sunjay Dutt. What is her name?

Alok pulls his hair and curses himself. “I should not forget names. I should not forget events. If I want to become a film writer I should have a information in my finger tips.”

The film is Gangajal. Director is Prakash Jhah. I like Prakash Jha’s movies for the rawness that he brings around in his film. Hero is Ajay Devgun. I love him. His droopy eyes..oh my God. He has several teeth like Shashi Kapoor. Both of them smile well. Shashi Kapoor was very thin when he came to movies. But then he bloated like a drum towards the end of his career. Ajay Devgun has a great body. Unlike many other super stars or what you call the Khans, he does not go gaga over his physical assets. This must be because his father was a fight master. Ajay knows his trade. One day I would like to work with him. Mukesh Tiwari acts as Baccha Yadav. What a fantastic performance. Prakash Jha gives chance to most of the National School of Drama graduated. The song happens when the villain, ‘Raju Bhayya’ rapes a girl who has been abducted from her mother’s place.

And the thin girl who dances is Manyata. Alok claps, gives a thumbs up to himself and feels a lot happier than before. He wants to look at Ishaan again. But he holds himself back for some other reason.

This is a good situation, Alok tells himself. I could write an one liner right now. Any producer would be interested to have such a wonderful story for his film. Why don’t I suggest that the hero should be none other than Ajay Devgun?

Alok smiles vacantly. He looks at the television again. This time he does not see anything special there. Recent hit songs are played out one after another. Commercial break is announced by two animated characters. At times they supply some philosophical doses to the viewers if they wait at the same channels for the commercials to finish and the songs to resume. Perhaps there are many like me, hopelessly waiting for something to happen in one’s own life. People like me could look at any channel for any long hours. The programs do not make much difference in our lives. We need some sights and sounds to fill in our vacant moments. We hate vacant moments.

‘I hate vacant moments like hell’, Alok tells himself. The day he realized that he hated vacant moments he had made a decision to fill them by conjuring up characters and situations. In school friends called him ‘pagal’, a mad boy because Alok’s lips kept moving when he was idle. He could sit still for long hours but his lips moved fast. None could hear anything. But it was through those silent lip movements the world inside Alok’s mind found expression in some way.

The story of the movie that I want to write could be something like this, Alok thinks. A young man from Bhopal wants to become a film story writer. Like many others with dreams to make it big in films, he too goes to Mumbai to try his luck. There he meets a still photographer, Ishaan who interestingly has a degree in engineering but pursues photography as his profession. Ishaan has access to production houses and studios as he has earned a bit of fame as a still photographer and a quick problem solver.

One day, Ishaan takes this young man from Bhopal to meet a very famous producer, Mr.Taporwala, where they meet another young corporate executive in a dapper suit. He looks several times better than the normal heroes in Bollywood. Mr.Taporwala introduces Ishaan to the corporate executive and in turn Ishaan introduces the young man from Bhopal to the producer and the corporate executive. The young man tells a story to the producer and the producer says that it is interesting but a few more changes have to be done to make it a good film story. The young man agrees to write the story with the changes in place. He takes an appointment to come back and see the producer. The producer is somehow impressed by the young man’s spirit and compassionately tells him to do a good job and if things work out well, the story is going to be a script and then to a movie. The young man from Bhopal is very happy and he wants to tell the producer that the hero of the movie could be Ajay Devgun. But he keeps that suggestion for some other time.

Parallel to this talk between the film producer and the young man from Bhopal, another conversation has been progressing between Ishaan and the corporate executive. The man in his dapper suit tells Ishaan that he wants Ishaan to take some photographs for him. Ishaan tells him that he likes to take the photographs of the celebrities and people with exceptional talents even if they are not celebrities. He tells the corporate executive that he has contributed photo features to some mid day newspapers where he has taken the pictures of those people who live a different kind of life in the city of Mumbai.

Ishaan tells him the story of a woman who had lost her husband at the age of twenty. She was from Bihar and was absolutely illiterate. Her husband worked in a mill at Lower Parel. They were living in Borivili and he commuted everyday in the thickly packed local train. On that fateful day he took a half day leave and came out of the factory. He wanted to give a surprise to his young daughter who was turning eight years on that day. The elder daughter was eleven and was good at studies. The younger one too was showing a lot of promise. The girls had been telling him to take them for the movie titled Chandini. In their school all the girls wore white churidar which had become a fashion statement after the release of that movie. This man wanted to buy two pairs of that white churidar from a Borivili shop. He had already arranged money for it. He wanted to take them to the movie in their new dress.

There was a huge rush even if it was a sultry afternoon in Mumbai. Then the city had not become Mumbai; it was still Bombay. He wanted to get out of the train at the Borivili station. The crowd was not moving. Somehow he pushed his way through the crowd. The train had already started moving. Without thinking twice he jumped out. The fall was fatal. The acceleration was so high by that time he was literally thrown from the train. His head hit at one of the iron pillars in the platform and he collapsed. What reached the home at that evening was his dead body.

My feature was not about that incident, tells Ishaan. Perhaps I was not even born then, he continues. My feature was about the woman who survived that incident. Or should I call it an accident in her life? She did not die. The dead one did not know what he had done to his family through that fatal jump. It was unintentional. His jump was triggered by the love for his daughters. Whom to be blamed in such situations? I don’t know. Anyway, my photo feature was not following that thread. I got this story from someone and I thought I should give it a try and I should follow it up and see where this woman has reached now. I got a thread from a journalist friend. He told me that this woman’s life turned around completely after that incident. She was running an orphanage.

An orphanage? The executive exclaims. Yes, Ishaan tells him. She runs an orphanage and she has already been quite famous in her own way. She her husband died she was absolutely illiterate. After that fateful event, she not only educated her daughters but also she educated herself and passed her school final examinations as a private student. All these while she was working as a ‘bai’, a house maid, who washed, cleaned and cooked for the office going Mumbaikars. The story does not end there. She got a graduation in Hindi and did a diploma in a Social Welfare studies. By that time her daughters had become district collectors after passing the Indian Administrative Service examinations. The this lady started running an orphanage. Quite unbelievable a story, right? I was humbled and enamoured by the story. So I decided to do a photo feature, Ishaan looks quite excited.

You are the right person for me, says the executive. “I have been looking for someone who could do some exceptional pictures of artists and their works. How about that? Would you be interested to do some documentation of art works that I have been collecting?” he asks. Ishaan looks at the young man from Bhopal who wants to go back to the room as early as possible and start writing the story. Though he is impatient, he takes some interest in the conversation between them. “I understand that you are a writer. You too can join Ishaan. Why only movie scripts? Why don’t you write something on art and artists? They too are as exciting as film characters? If I put it in this way, the artists are funnier than the film stars, in their vanity and pompousness. Why don’t you give it a try? Let’s make a team. I started liking you guys,” the executive looks into our eyes.

Ishaan looks at the young man from Bhopal and he returns the glance. Then together they look at the young corporate executive. “Okay, let’s go for it,” Ishaan tells the man. “But you have not yet told us where to do the documentation and what to right,” the young man from Bhopal says. “I will tell you all those details soon. Before that, let’s meet for a drink tonight at the Blue Frog. Is that okay with you guys?” asks the executive. They nod. Mr.Taporwala looks our side from his huge oak desk. He exchanges smile with the executive. The young men agree with the executive for the drink date.

“Shiv, you are now completely into it, man. I never thought you would become too passionate about this collecting business,” Mr.Taporwala takes off his reading glass and tells. Below his eyes they could see two bags like pelicans beak. “Tapi...you are drinking off late too much,” says Shiv. For that Mr.Taporwala gives a hollow laugh in return and goes back to his work.

“Alok...man.. what are you upto? Some new ideas?” Ishaan asks. Alok jumps up startled. “You frightened the shit out me, man,” he says, launching a mock punch at Ishaan’s stomach.

“Your lips were moving like crazy and I knew something was on in your mind,” Ishaan laughs.

“Yeah man...I was just thinking about the whole situation. It would make a good movie.”

“But still we don’t know what we are upto. We have been with Shiv for almost five months now. Apart from following this writer and doing some photographing of art works, attending more and more boring exhibition openings, what have we done so far? I just don’t understand this man. Something has been wrong all the time. The man we are stalking and photographing does not look that simple as he looks. Didn’t you look at his face when he was cradled inside the bean bag? There is something more to him. Shiv wants to protect him because he knows too much or Shiv wants to keep him as a shield in some deal. What do you think?” Ishaan asks.

Alok is silent. His lips move, slowly and then it catches up a different momentum. “That man looks stupid to me, Ishaan. All these while we have been stalking him. And look at those pictures in your camera. By the way, have you downloaded last week’s pictures into your computer? Please do. Those pictures could give us some clue. I want to see them again. Because I remember seeing that woman who was sleeping with him that day. I had seen her somewhere else,” Alok whispers.

“But do you have any clue about these people whom Shiv mentions as this man’s possible assassins,” Ishaan asks.

“No idea, Ishaan,” Alok looks at Ishaan. His eyes runs through the flowing locks of Ishaan’s hair, long nose, fair complexion, red lips and a longer stubble. “Do you know Ishaan, you look like Jesus Christ,” Alok laughs and Ishaan joins in the mirth.

Then Ishaan’s phone rings. He picks it up.

“What the hell are you guys doing there? Rush to my apartment...NOW.” Shiv screams from the other end.

(To be Continued)

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