It was a sultry Chennai day of February 2003 I lived my dream and I was heartbroken at the end of the day, making me realize Dreams do come true but its not always a memorable experience.
I hadn’t slept the whole night. No I wasn’t working late ….I was up all night because of a herd of excited elephants going berserk in my tummy, adrenalin pumping hard, pulse racing …..As I was getting ready to do what I had always wanted to do …..Act in a Movie !!! Just the previous day one bored, flat voice called me in the middle of the night and said “Mr. Majumdar, tomorrow be there at AVM studios at 8.00 your audition has been selected and you have a role to play”. I had sprang out of my bed pinching me 100 times to make myself believe that this is finally coming true. My mind was racing …I wanted to get on top of the highest possible monument to tell the world “Hang on you lowly mortals, me the actor is here”. I gulped down a dozen glasses of water …..ran from one room to the other …trying to locate the telephone nos. of all possible friends ….unsuccessfully….as I kept dropping my phone off ……I banged into the furnitures to injure my toe (till date it hurts)……I looked into the mirror trying to imagine myself in all possible immortal characters that have ever been portrayed on the Silver Screen from, Vijay in Deewar to Mogambo in Mr. India. Finally, I took hold of myself, took a couple of deep breath, sat myself down and as if trying to soothe myself I said “Sheel, don’t be ridiculous…keep your calm….your dream is few hours away”.
And then the realization dawned…what is my role? What am I going to say? What is my costume? As if that wasn’t enough ….I also thought…..who is going to design it? How am I going to do justice to the role if I don’t do the homework? Millions of thoughts rambled in my mind as I sat crouched in the easy chair in my balcony over looking the restless Bay of Bengal….breathing and thinking heavily.
Night passed, I didn’t move from the chair. Around 6 am in the morning I conjured the strength to get out and look myself in the mirror…only to see a creased face tired with all the excitement of the night, heavy dark circles screaming the fact that I didn’t sleep all night, hair that was more like a Jute Farm gone haywire because of a unwarranted thunderstorm, Voice that was crackling because of a hurting tonsil…in all my so called mental preparation had effectively managed to take its toll on my physical being. With all that was remaining I got ready packed whatever I could find in my wardrobe….I got into my car and started on this journey to touch my Dream.
Yes, Dream it was. I started dreaming oblivious to the ever erratic traffic of Chennai. Dreaming that I will arrive to a melee of waiting paparazzi, to a thunderous applause of the unit team waiting anxiously to accept me in the Tinseltown Fraternity, dreaming that the Director would come running saying “sheel, your audition was so perfect that we decided to give you the role of the Protagonist’s brother or friend”, Dreaming that there would be leading actors who would be happy to see me and extend their hands at me saying “Hey its such a priviledge meeting you”. Dreaming that I would be paid a handsome sum that will take care of that elusive hometheatre that I have been dreaming of for sometime,……….
And suddenly there was this angry truck like the legendary anti hero in shakesperean literature hovering in front of my little Maruti 800, bringing me back to the evil world of reality. I found myself in front of the AVM studios……my eyes desperately searching for that Paparazzi ….to my disappointment there wasn’t any. I parked my car and sauntered towards the unit with a Vivian Richards Swagger…. Only to have a dirty glare and nasty shout coming my way….”Aye hero, get out of the way…you just ruined a perfect take by coming in the way…”. That shout ripped through my bloated ego like a dagger…I was confined to a cold corner only to be summoned by a unit member who admonished me in a language that’s not fit for Toastmaster ….for being late and not ready. Ready? For what …whats my role? Whats my costume…? All she could say was …are you the hero ? I said “I don’t know”…. She said “ don’t act smart just go to the make up room and wash your face to get ready. I thought “Only wash…no make up?” Then she added “ then Put on the lawyer garb” and stand in queue there”. I looked at the direction of the pointed finger to find many negligible mortals like me standing in a huddle discussing the brilliance of the day.
I walked again, no swagger, no pride. I had touched the dream only to find it as a beginning nightmare. What followed was an experience that grounded me for life. Waiting 3 days in the sultry Chennai heat under a hot and angry sun with 4 layers of Lawyer clothes, standing in a queue to get food, getting called for the shot only to be told that we don’t need you we just need your shoulder, so do whatever to your best ability to make sure you give us a steady shoulder, standing in a queue to get few thousands. It was a nightmare coming true for me, a nightmare that ate away the dream of tinseltown.
Today, when I look back I am full of empathy for the people working there. I have a good laugh on what I went through….and I urge everyone to watch “Phir Milenge” so what you may not find me but just my shoulder, watch it…because I have not only given my heart & soul but also my dreams for it.