This post Q for ‘Quagmire is written as part of #AtoZChallenge: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. It’s a novella on the tale of a film star losing his memory and travelling to the haunted past, coming face to face with his reality. It’s a purely imaginative tale and bears no resemblance to the world of showbiz nor have I met real life people with such streaks. Enjoy
“Do you know why I slapped you yesterday,” he sits like a king perched on his throne, on the red sofa in the vanity van. He pours Black dog whisky in two glasses with ice and pushed the rotating table to my side. I wonder whether behind the façade of this star lies some psychotic character.
I take a sip of the whisky. “Films is a world in itself and you don’t need to grab anything that comes you way. First learn to value yourself and if you cannot do that, do something else,” he says. He takes a cigarette drag and pause for a while. “It makes me very angry to see you doing such a bit of role by standing among the crowd. It’s not even a sidekick role. Think big, man. If you need money, I will give you.”
He thrusts a parcel on the table. The wrinkled face star winks, “I need a favour from you. There is an address on the envelope and you need to deliver it to Mrs Meena who stays in the city’s outskirt. Don’t you ever whisper a single word to anyone! I will make your career.”
We hear a loud explosion outside and rush to see that the studio is razed by fire. People are running from one direction to another and we hear cries of despair. Everything is being burned and shards of metal flying. Bang!! Several explosions are taking place that is deafening to ear. The next day, the star accompanies me to meet Shantanu Sir. I try to be emphatic, “It’s very sad that the whole studio has been devastated.”
He laughs, “Akhil, yaar. You are very innocent. We are behind the fire. See, a question of millions from the insurance guys. I have one question: Do you want to be a big star and play the lead in my film?
I am now in a quagmire. I can’t understand what’s happening. First, there is the parcel, second the fire and the loss of lives. I hesitate, “Sir, I don’t quite understand.”
“Beta, the police will take a statement from you. You just need to say that no one was there when the fire erupted.”
It makes me shudder to think that so many people died. I have always taken pride in being honest and now I will be a criminal. Shantanu Sir pats my back, “Bhai Saab (the star) has backed out of the film and your name has already been announced as the main lead.” I nod. Do I have a choice? It makes me wonder.
On the last day of shooting, I hear Koyal laughing inside the vanity van and hide behind when I see Bhai Saab running in an inebriated state towards her, grabs here before kissing her passionately. She is shell-shocked on seeing me.
Koyal runs after me but I ignore her. “Akhil,” she says. “Such things happen in our industry. Now, you are a star and you will see things. We need to survive in the big city and we pay a price for the luxury that we enjoy. Hope, one day you will understand.”
I hold my tears before walking away from her. I knock on the door of Mrs Meena at Virar and I get a huge shock on seeing her face. She is a socialite we see on TV and doesn’t flinch in running her finger on my face and bites my finger. She seductively sways her hip when she comes back as she turns her bare back and coming back with a bottle of whisky and rolls a joint. “Bhai Saab told me you are ready to compromise. I will make your life.”
I am already a corrupted soul for saying yes to Mrs Meena that night fulfilling her lust and carnal desire. In the name of success, I have stopped thinking in terms of morality and my head is stuck in a quagmire. I am disgusted with myself. The film released and is a runaway hit at the box office. I am the new superstar, Akhil Sharma. Little did I know that my success has a price and I am at the mercy of people like Bhai Saab and Mrs Meena, who hold a remote control to my life. They press a button and I dance to their tunes. In the eyes of people, I am a star. But, in reality, a mere puppet.