Thursday, January 20, 2005

Star struck

"This is unbelievable", he said to himself as he ran towards the old 19th century house, which was now the centre of attraction of the whole village. It was on his way from the pharmacy that someone told him that yet another film unit has landed in the village for a night. Every month, some production house landed its caravans in the empty wasteland next to the palatial house and there's not been a single time when he had not been there. He would pamper the entire unit running from one end to another the whole time they were around, helping them with little things, telling them stories of the village and taking them to the oldest temple in the village situated right in the middle of wilderness. Everyone loved him - Sometimes, they would come as far as his house, meet his ailing mother, tell her what a wonderful kid she has.

He stopped at crossroads, staring at forking roads leading to the house and his home, realizing his mother must be waiting for him - She had been coughing badly the whole day and the cough syrup would do her a world of good. He looked at his watch (a 20 rupees citigen electronic watch that he got this time at the village carnival); He still had time. He had promised her that he would be back before 8 in the night. That was more than 2 hours away. The old house was just around the corner and he could already see it completely lit and bustling with activity. Everyone was already there, sitting on roof tops, climbing trees, officiously helping out the movie folk. Puny that he was, he sneaked in through a hole in the fence and spotted a few familiar faces in the production unit. They recognized him immediately - they had been here six months ago and he was their unofficial tourist guide for the whole of two weeks. He sat there wide-eyed listening to them explain him the story of the movie, while sipping a fresh glass of juice from the "Superstar fruit stall" situated just next door. The stories were all the same, about a village youth who returns to his roots and makes a difference. But he loved the little details - the clinchers in the script, the costumes, the lighting and camera angles.

Movies were the elixir of his otherwise mundane existence - He lived and dreamt films. Late at nights, under the brightness of the kerosene lamp, he would open his little wooden box and look at every single slip of paper that had his name written on it by the most famous of stars. His walls were full of movie posters; he always had a free seat for every new movie in their multiplex movie hall under the thatched roof. Late at nights, he would go back home, make his mom sit on the rickety cot, wear an old tattered cap and ape how the director explains the scene to the technicians, how actors check themselves in the mirror before going for their scene, their oddities, moves and mannerisms and occasional gossip on how many cigarettes they smoke in a day or which actress wore what for which movie.
Just as he was listening to them, a hush fell on the whole house as the hero descended from his makeup van and entered the house. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. The rumors were indeed true - this wasn't just another movie or he wasn't just another star. Every poster on his wall, every image in his mind, every scene he had loved and cherished had personified itself into an aura and was walking towards him. He was THE ONE. The assistant directors who were talking to him till then got their scripts ready and stood around him. He made himself comfortable in the seat, closed his eyes and listened to them explaining him the scene that was about to be shot. Something was amiss - the infectious smile that filled the screen was missing and he seemed to be an extremely foul mood, giving the stammering assistant director a cold stare before closing his eyes again.

The kid was relentless - this was his one shot to eternity; Once the narration was complete, he clung to one of the assistants and pleaded him to get him an autograph. Neither the lack of time, nor the actor's foul mood would dissuade him. Finally, promising the assistant director that he will neither speak nor linger around after having got the autograph, he accompanied the assistant to meet the star. The actor momentarily opened his eyes, looked at the kid and asked him for a slip of paper to sign in. He had completely forgotten about the paper! He frantically searched his pockets and was relieved to find the prescription. Realizing he had no other option, he showed the actor the other side of the prescription paper. The actor didn't ask him his name, nor did he smile as he scribbled something unintelligible on the paper and gave it back to him. But that still was worth a hundred lifetimes. He was smiling ear to ear, waiting for the actor to say something, anything to him. The assistant director nudged him to leave. He needed something to keep this moment alive - a gesture, a word, a smile. When he realized nothing was forthcoming, he slowly took his hand towards the shiny black coat of the actor while he was looking away. Just a fleeting touch, he told himself, and he would leave.

The next thing he knew, he was down on the ground, a tight slap leaving his cheek burning. "Thief! rascal!". Before he could react, a dozen technicians pounced on him kicking him in all directions. The bottle in his pocket broke; a sharp piece of glass pierced his thigh, leaving him screaming in pain. They tried taking the prescription out from his clenched fist, finally tore a piece of it and realizing it to be just a piece of paper, let him free. Tears blurred his vision and as he tried to get up, the part of the prescription with the actor's signature, was picked up and blown away by the wind never to be seen again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

its beautiful
Why isn't there any comment to this post?

4:51 PM  

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