The post P for Phlegmatic is written as part of ‘#AtoZChallenge’:Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. I am doing a novella on the story of a film star who loses his memory and how he travels to the past facing his destiny.
The phlegmatic director nudges me to observe the camera movements and the artists’ expression before thrusting a continuity sheet in my hands. I go blank and spend half day figuring out how it works.
Shantanu Sir urges me to check the camera equipment, actors’ costumes and lines. Everyone is ready for the shoot and when the right moment comes, I am clueless and the director realizes that I haven’t been following his instructions. He is furious and slams me for not making the effort to get things done. Luckily, the seniors save the day or else the production house would fork out a huge cost for wasting a day of shooting.
It’s been a hectic month where I am facing a hard time, being pushed to the extreme and brought to tears by the soft guy who is described as phlegm of a person. I am now an AD who is slowly developing a thick skin and shouting back at other assistant directors. My day starts at 4 a.m taking the local train to the shoot and spending the evening travelling to Bru Café at Yari Road, to whine my time. The place is crowded with strugglers, film actors and theatre people longing for the big break in the Hindi film industry.
Everything seems suddenly so calm in this phlegm universe, film-making. I feel very phlegmatic being surrounded by chilled out people struggling to find a foothold in the film industry or the crew of Shantanu Sir. I am being constantly rounded and grounded by the crew to learn the job on the floor and there were days when I wanted to quit but the swearing and insults are being done by design. It’s a trick to make me rough and tough to learn the job on the floor.
A huge star is surrounded by models on the sets and once his shot is done, he takes the girls inside his vanity van. I was grilling a cigarette when the star in his 50s calls for me inside the vanity van. The half-clad female models are sitting on his knee and I am stunned…not by the models…but fancy luxurious vanity. WoW! It’s what dreams are made of…leather sofa, flat TV, dining table, bedroom and what’s not!
“Stop making dreams in your head,” the star barks at me. He took a pause and smiles, “Work to make them come true.”
He is unusually kind to me. “My young friend, you are hard-working and your eyes twinkle with dreams. Look at me. I am always serenaded by new actresses and models, producers making a beeline in front of my house and I can afford luxurious cars, travelling the world whenever I want. But! But! There is a price to pay for everything.”
“Dude!! You are a talented boy who will go far. I have watched you during the film’s shoot and am amazed by the keen interest you show, right from the script to the small details in camera movement. I really appreciate the last time your eyes struck how the camera jerked. Just imagine how horrible I would have looked had the shot been canned.”
I reach Bru café past 10 pm and the place is brimming with film people, aspiring actors and theatre people. I am sitting in the middle of a documentary shoot. In a matter of days, I bag two assignments, one to act in an ad for a new brand of hand set on the market and the second to be part of the crowd for the documentary film. I was on cloud 9.
The senior actor spots me from far and his eyes are following my steps. He calmly walks in my direction and slaps me hard on my face. I fall down. He rushes inside his silver BMW and drives away. I can’t understand what’s happening. First, he congratulates me for my work, gushing on how talented I am and the next moment, he humiliates me in front of everyone. A tale of a phlegmatic star turning into a villain off -screen.