Pune Memoirs: 2004/2005
It’s becoming a painful process to retrieve events in my memory box in an orderly fashion between 2004 and 2005. It’s been more than 10 years since I started my second year in Pune and therefore, I shall write on specific memories that I can recall. Everyone knows that the film bug hit me very early where I dreamed of becoming a film actor and director in the Hindi film industry.
What do you do on a lazy, drab and boring Sunday with flatmates? We snuggled on the bed and watched Mujhse Shaadi Karoge on Cable TV in those days when the guy from the slum will come to fix the antenna for access to all the TV channels for a monthly 300 bucks, a far cry from today’s Dish TV which is splattered all over. We were sitting and watching the comedy flick when Neraj, our classmate came to leisurely spell, Amitabh Bachchan is in Pune shooting for Viruddh with John Abraham and Anusha. It was double dhamaka since my love for Bachchan knows no bound and I also had a major crush on Anusha Dandekar. It sent my pulses racing and the heart beat suddenly sprang longing to meet my idol who was in shooting in the city.
Spoilsport! It came with Adi who is perhaps one of the rare Indians who abhors Hindi movies and hell bent to dissuade me from watching the shooting of the film. Stop being hyper, he would chide me. He spat fireballs ranging from cautiousness of being roughed up by cops to being mad and not making sense at all. Our friends, Kusum, and her boyfriend Manish, along with Neraj went to try their luck at the shoot for a dekkho of the stars and I was waiting in anticipation cleaning my modest Kodak cam for a pic with Mr. Bachchan and Anushka, and kept a small book a small book of the former in my bag to grab an autograph. It was the evening when Adi called Neraj, “What’s happening over there? Usska Amitabh Bachchan dikha kya?” in reference to me. Bad luck! Apparently, it turned out to be chaotic with news spreading like wildfire and the crowd swarming to the shoot.
I was disappointed but this wouldn’t deter me to try meeting my idol. It was already evening and was in two minds to sneak in towards Deccan but finally abandoned all plans for the day. Manish was tempting me when we walked on FC Road for dinner as the movement of cars moved past us, “See, Amitabh Bachchan is inside this car.” Like an idiot, I turned around. He laughed, “Just imagine you are breathing the same air as Amitabh Bachchan.” It only reaffirmed my resolve to take the chance to be clicked with my idol.
The next day, I skipped the morning lecture and walked in the scorching sun for three to four kilometers, with the camera in hand to Deccan in the early morning. It was past 8.30 a.m. The bungalow’s gate was closed and guarded like a fortress. The crowd grew in numbers with the cops having a tough time and lathi charged to control the crowd standing on both sides of the road. The only solace was makeup van and camera equipment, assistant directors, makeup artists doing the running around outside the bungalow. We stood in the heat and waiting for the stars to come out or try our luck in the hope that the gate will soon open to fulfill our wish of rubbing shoulders with our favorite stars.
Patience was wearing thin on me and my stomach grumbled waiting for film stars without a morsel of food since morning. A college sweetheart called and asked the whereabout since she wanted to meet the heartthrob John Abraham and at the same time, some girls were yelling, ‘John! John! Come and kiss me.’ I kept walking to-and-fro past the gate where finally, I had a dekkho of Anusha who accompanied someone near her vanity van. Picture perfect! It was my reaction and I almost lost my heart to her. Her hair, green eyes, and flawless face was something to die. A blink-and-miss appearance. How I wish I could date her!
A dim hope surfaced after the security let a handful of people in after the crowd ran mad and pushing on the gate. As I followed the crowd going berserk and wading past the gate, I was stopped by the security who asked me to wait for them to come back. A lady entered and i sensed the chance handing the book of Amitabh Bachchan, requesting her to get me an autograph since the chances looked bleak to meet the country’s biggest superstar. The wait was long and spotted the lady from far and I ran in her direction but she told in the whole pushing, she forgot the book inside.
It was disappointing and I decided to go back to get the printed copies from the camera shots at Foto Fast Digital on FC Road. There were pictures taken during Rose Day in college much before the digi camera entered my life. The roll was emptied and just imagine my horror to see half of the pictures were burned for walking with the camera exposed in the sun. It was horrible, to say the least. What a day!
My tryst with films continued in Pune when I almost became an extra, struggling to land into titbit of roles when someone told me about a shoot taking place in the city and my name was given to the crew. I received an sms that a bus will wait for us at Swargate depot. It was the start of a tedious and anxious journey with a large group of boys and girls ever ready to make the first step in the film world. It took a long time for the bus to finally kick the engine, caught in the traffic and stumbling towards the outskirt in Pune. Some were dressed in flashy clothes while people like me wore denim and tee. I was amused to see aspiring actors wearing such jazzy clothes and was like, who wear such sort of clothes for a shoot?!
The bus stopped in a deserted place and we waited in anticipation for the casting guys to usher us out at the shooting location. It was hot sitting inside the bus for hours and so irritating to made to wait like this when those guys mysteriously disappeared. We asked one of the guys inside the bus whether the film crew will ever come. Finally, someone came after three hours and we were asked to stand up where few guys and girls were pointed out at. They walked like film stars and scampered out of the bus.
The rest of us were asked to stay inside which means we were not selected and the bus turned around to drop us to our destination back in the city. You know the joke turned on me? The same guys whom I laughed and at were selected for wearing jazzy clothes. Apparently, it was for the shoot of a song sequence. I was dejected for being rejected as an extra, that too inside a bus.
I went back to the flat and slept for a while to let the feeling of rejection to sink in. The flatmates and friends were quite supportive despite the fact that I was awkward, ashamed to say that I was turned down. Adi gently told me that I should try for casting and can be an agent to hire extra and junior artists. Neraj told me not to worry for a crew will soon land in Pune with Ajay Devgan and Sanjay Dutt in tow and junior artists will be needed. He even called one of his cousins who was involved to confirm. The funny thing is when the time came, the crew decided at the last minute not to come to Pune and the film was shelved.
My story of struggle with films could well be made into a comedy of error during my Pune days.