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A2Z Reflection: Tale of a survivor

There was no plan. No inkling. A dim idea surfaced at the back of the mind.  Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was looming behind the door and I was totally clueless what to write. A vague and skeleton idea. Initially, I was planning to make four very short novellas every week for 26 days. I tore my copy. It was good for the bin.

Grey cells do matter. A tale of a film star losing his mind, tale of a struggler in Maximum City, Mumbai itself or intimate tales? I racked my brain. It was already Day 1 of the challenge. I took a risk. I am glad that I did. It all started with a character, a commoner who is a film star-no scant reference to anyone-losing his memory by waking up one morning. So far, so good!! The character was born. Bingo!! After all, no point in yelling victory. I was well aware what I was getting myself into.

The female character was sketched out of the blue on Day two. I was in the middle of the story when Maya-the illusion took shape in a unique manner. I remember reading how way back in the late 1980s, Madhuri Dixit was touted to play a college student who discovers a secret agent, Amitabh Bachchan and helps him recover his memory. The shelved film was Shanakht to be helmed by Tinnu Anand. It was cinema lovers loss that AB-Mads could never be paired together. I imagined Maya to be a pivotal character in the novella. That’s how the character was born. She was never part of the novella or the episodes imagined. Of course, the main character superstar Akhil Kumar is very contemporary and bears no reference to Amit Sir nor does Maya has  Maya  bore streaks of Madhuri Dixit. As the challenge was progressing, I was clueless since I was never part of the film industry and failed to do justice to the story of a film superstar losing his memory. I tried to tap the character’s struggling day as an actor but couldn’t give it the real touch. That’s how the episodes were twisted and given a thriller edge.

Pic- Amitabh Bachchan ji & Madhuri Dixit ji in SHANAKHT - unreleased film  @SrBachchan
A still from the Amitabh Bachchan-Madhuri Dixit 1987 unreleased SHANAKHT. Image credit: Moses Saphir of FMXT/

Trust me, it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done as part of A to Z Challenge by attempting a thriller the Hindi movies potboilers made in the 70s and 80s were famous for. I am not trying to be modest but it’s the plain truth. It was the first time that I was writing something that had no theme, ranging from memory loss to struggling artists and finally settling on a thriller.  It’s not my forte for I am more at ease with candy floss romance. I myself know how I completed the challenge. As we reached midway, it was decided that the episodes would be a no-brainer and a tribute to Hindi movies made in the yore days…chase scenes, hero’s entry by flying and breaking splinter of glasses and resuscitated from the ashes of death. I have always loved the no-brainers. What better way to give a tribute!

As things rolled and canned at the back of the mind, I visualized the episodes in the form of a film played in front of me. I was the spectator yet the architect. I wanted to make them as entertaining and paisa vasool, something that has no logic or rationale behind. There were some blink-and-miss cum eccentric characters like the psychologist making my character time travel, journalist suffering from cancer, pop singer cum seasonal girlfriend, maid for letter A and Shantanu Sir the director as well as the mother figure who gave him a place to stay. Of course, Maximum City played a pivotal and parallel character to the life of the star.

It’s my A to Z story. There were no characters, story structure or visualize…nothing. I am not really satisfied with the end project for the simple reason that I wanted to make it about memory loss meeting the tale of a struggling artist. Nothing of that sort happened. But, I am happy the way some episodes such as Jet speed, Rave the Rave and X letter for climax turned out. It was heart-pounding. I didn’t expect to give it the edge. Phew! I was done. I didn’t blog for couple of days. It might take the form of an e-novella and stay tune for more.

There were days where I was well in advance, posts ever ready to make the kill and before hitting publishing, editing on the alphabet day. Trust me, it works big time for the first two weeks postS were ready. However, as I ushered into the challenge, I was lagging behind and time to do soul searching to weave characters.  Bingo! It was done. And, I survived. Certainly, it was my toughest in the three years I participated.

The challenge drained me. I was sapped of all my energy. It’s my third and final outing with April A to Z Challenge. See you at the other end of the fence.

You may check some of my posts below.

Letters B E Letter F Letter G Letter H  Letter I  Letter R





Postscript: The best thing about A to Z Challenge that it helps you reflect on shortcomings. I have decided when I move to Mumbai next year, I will do a well-researched book with interviews on the lives of struggling actors in the industry.


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A2Z Challenge: Yaara

This post Y for Yaara is written as part of #‎AtoZChallenge‬: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. During the whole month of April, I am attempting a novella on the life of a film superstar Akhil Kumar who lost his memory, helped by a college student half his way as he time travels to the past to redeem his identity. It’s a thriller with the adage, Leave your brains somewhere’ to enjoy the story.

I am making today’s post as AC (Adult Content) for its sassy and sensual encounter.

Yaara (यार) is a Hindi word.

Meaning: sweetheart, paramour, mate, friend, chum, companion, and beloved.


I am fighting my tears in the home library, neatly packing my books and belongings to leave for United States. Staying in Mumbai will make me constantly live in the memory of Akhil. How I wish I could give him the pen drive? He chose to leave for the departed world! I didn’t realize when I have fallen in love with him… Oh! Yaara! We are not destined to be together but shall be united by the universe in the afterlife.

I stand in front of his picture perched on the wall. I sense a shadow behind me. I slowly turn around and am flabbergasted to see him. Am I dreaming? Oh! Yaara! Is this you?

I run and hug him, kissing his cheek, forehead, and hand. He looks like a statue, “Maya! I have come to say goodbye. How you help me in retrieving my memory and been with me through thick and thin?” he says.

“Goodbye! It’s too painful. Why did you come back, Yaara?  At least, you should’ve been dead to me as well and not just to the world!”

“I am in love with you, Akhil,” I cry my lung out.

“Maya!!” he says. “It cannot happen between us. I am in my mid-30s and you are 18.”  I push him away, “It doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to be in love. You have no right to tell me that I cannot love you. In my heart, it’s been only you. You may be the biggest star to the world but not to me. You are my Yaara. I will not let you go, ever. Once you’ve left me, I will not let it happen this time. Kiss me once,” I insist.

He hesitates for a minute. “Stop thinking too much. Leave it to the world.”

I lie down on the bed, undo the strap of my blouse and close my eyes. He caresses my hand, strokes my lip with his chin and kisses my neck passionately. His hands cup my face, lips tangle together, tongues swirling and intertwining to heavenly bliss. I am longing that he makes love to my soul. I caress his bare chest and his hand slowly moves up from my thigh, cupping my breast with the palm of his hand and running down his fingers on my flab. I invite him inside me. Today, I feel like a complete woman. Love has no age. Our souls are becoming one and we are one whole body in the universe. The emotion of the heart has no place for ego.

We lie down together. “Yaara,” I say. He tweaks his eyes, looking intensely inside my soul. “Don’t leave and go,” I almost plead.

He gently holds my face with his hand. “I have a new identity. Love is not about possessing each other but setting us free.” I wipe the single tear. I want to tell you something. “You know Bhai Saab was the vilest person on earth and can’t tell how happy I am that you finished him. He made the life of my mother hell where I witnessed his ruthlessness every single day,” I confess.

Akhil suddenly became jittery, “How does your mom know Bhai Saab?” There is no point in hiding the truth and I blankly say, “He was my Dad. We witnessed his atrocity every single day.”

He twitches his left eyes, “Life is strange, isn’t it.” We kiss each other a final time. As he dresses and walking out, I grab his hand, “A small gift for you, Akhil” as I slip the pen drive inside the palm of his hand.

With Love



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A2Z Challenge: Xenoblade

This post X for Xenoblade is written as part of #‎AtoZChallenge‬: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. It’s the climax for the novella tracing the journey of a star losing his memory, time travelling and facing his foes. Hope you all liked the journey but twists in the tale are not yet over.


I coolly walk, avoiding each bullet fired by henchmen and shots banging against my bullet proof jacket that neutralizes them.  I finish them like gazillion bubble, expertly pulling guns tucked inside my jeans and shocks, and they fly in the air like fireworks on display.

Leaping and thrusting from one end to the other, I didn’t miss my targets and splay my legs in front of them, hitting them ferociously.

Hiding behind mirror and glass decorations, I bamboozle them by throwing miniature cardboard versions of my own self. They fire in the void. I catch them the wrong way and burst explosives where they flow backward to burn in the raging fire. I see Bhai Saab running away and throw myself on the plump body, wrestle with him, before overpowering the demon.  Bang! He hits me on my hand that is soaking into blood and laughs like a maniac. I repeat his act and we laugh together till he abruptly stops.

“Laugh Bhai Saab. I am doing the same. Tere liye mera taang hi kaafi hai (For you, my legs are enough).” I stretch my legs and hit him on the head where he loses his balance to crash on the floor.  I roll my tongue, gently swirling it to brush my tooth to make a popping sound. “Bhai Saab! Bhai Saab! Let’s play a game since you love doing that. It’s called Xenoblade,” I break into splinter of laughter.

I forcefully push my knee forward and administer blow on his throat. Bhai Saab yells in pain.  “Stand on the dead bodies of your henchmen. Time to test your endurance,” I threaten him. After all, he has no choice. He is sweating and pleading to me. “You are like my son. Please let me go,” the coward is crying.

I twist my neck, “The game is fun, na. Enjoying the game your son is making you play. Remember sugar daddy you once told me that one pays a heavy price to be in the showbiz. I am enjoying the thrill of seeing you sweating.”

He is in total dismay. I fire gun shots to aim for his legs and he jumps with his draining energy.  The villain is losing his vigor and blood is oozing from his lip. I fling my belt on his face and menacingly look at him with raw intensity, “If I let you run away today, every innocent boy and girl will curse me for you will rattle them like a snake. After all, the snake has to die. Your ego and desire will destroy your soul that needs to be reminded of sins committed, destruction of young kids and killing of innocent people.”

Bhai Saab eyes are moist and I am enjoying this emasculated version of the ruthless don.  I whistle, “Chalo! I’ll make your last wish true. I tell you a story: I struggled to become an actor in Mumbai till I met you. Remember, the fire inside the film sets where both you and Shantanu Sir made me lie in exchange for a film career. It’s not you who played a game with me, after all. I made you and Shantanu Sir the Katputli. I am on a mission. It started at that time.”

His face is losing color and eyes wide open, meekly asking, “Who are you?” I laugh, “The DCP discovered that I was lying when he interrogated me on the fire that killed innocents. You made the life of Mumbai police a living hell and they got at you through a ploy.”

“There was no better way to get the secret of the mafia than through a film struggler turning into an undercover cop overnight. My real name is Vijay Srivastav, undercover cop and film superstar Akhil Kumar. The police gave me a new identity. I became a film star and a cop at the same time. Game over.”

I throw my police pass on Bhai Saab who grabs it with both hands and is in a state of shock as I press the remote control button before grabbing the rope hanging on the wall, oscillating past the hotel and swirling towards the ground.

I clumsily walk with wounded legs and deafening explosions behind my back. The five-star hotel is turning into ashes and I can hear the howling voice of the underworld don wearing the garb of a senior actor, writhing in pain. My last act is done. The game of Xenoblade is over!


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U for Under dog

This post ‘U for Underdog’ is written as part of ‪#‎AtoZChallenge‬: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.


I hush inside the conference hall at the ‘By the Backbay Hotel’ surrounded by the sea at Marine Drive. The bevy of press reporters and TV reporters are speaking loudly and suddenly go into hush mode when they saw me.

The gazillion of cameras inches me closer on my face and I feel mutilated like grenades and guns from all quarters. I take a pause and sip water from the Bisleri bottle. My eyes look around the room and can sense that the media is ready to pounce on me, with faces sniggering on me. After all, an underdog is everyone’s favorite punch bag.

I say, “Have you ever wondered what makes an underdog so successful yet is the most hated? I know something about it.” The room falls silent. My PR team and Maya looks at me agape, wondering what has got into me.

“The underdog doesn’t have the right to be successful on his own terms. I am not a superstar with a tragic story that makes me a story worth writing on tabloids. My struggle, the real one is unwritten for no one, except me knows about it. I am here to speak the truth, nothing but the truth. Hath the fury,” I valiantly say.

“I am confessing about my crimes. I am guilty of compromising my way to the top and was used at my own will by people like Bhai Saab. I was the toy boy of Meera who was in cohort with Bhai Saab and transported packets containing drugs on his behalf. I was not aware of the content but when I did, it was too late. Money is an addiction and power corrupts minds. The more I wanted to stop it, the more I got suck into it. I couldn’t stop things. After all, it was a question of surviving. I compromised on my dignity and self-respect to make it big in the industry.”

I took a pause and continue, “I was blackmailed into doing things but for how long I can hide my crime. I am guilty of being silent. I acted in movies financed by the mafia on Bhai Saab’s request. You know why: He is the biggest mafia lord in the country. Producers were gunned down. Bhai Saab is behind several crimes. You will recall about the fire on film sets but it was not an accident. Rather a premeditated act to claim millions where innocent people died. I am at the mercy of corrupt politicians and the mafia.”

“There is another lie I blatantly told everyone. It’s true that I lost my memory and I am now fine. I am far from being a role model. I make a request to you all: Investigate on people like Bhai Saab who is corrupting the industry and exploited young wanna be actors and actresses. But, I warn him that I am going to take on him fearlessly and expose the truth on the table. I was blinded by fame and power but not anymore.”

The hall is witness to a flurry of chaos with reporters sending a barrage of questions like bullets of fire.

TV reporter 1: Are you saying such things under pressure?

I smile, “Which pressure are you speaking about? I am speaking the truth. One has to be fearless and nothing shall prevent me to walk the path of fire. If I was scared, I would not be sitting here and confessing how I was part of the crimes.

Tabloid reporter 2: Are you not scared of death?

I start speaking when another journalist made a jibe at me. “He must be preparing for his next role, confusing between reel and real life,” she remarks.

I am seething with anger, “I would like to tell you all that nothing will cow me down. I already took my decision when I saw innocent children being trafficked by people like Bhai Saab and it was me who put the fire there to escape and save lives. I risked my own life to save so many. Do you think I will be scared of death?

A fury lady journalist shouts, “He should be hanged and in the eyes of the law, he is a criminal. Are you aware what you are saying can be used against you by the court of law?”

I say, “It’s your right to judge me. I am ready to face consequences of my actions and if I am here today to face you all, it means I am ready to face the music.

A young girl raises her hand, “Sir! We have just obtained information that Bhai Saab has been released from jail.”

At the same time, a team of police officers walk inside the chaotic conference room gone berserk.

.The DCP tells, “Sir, you are under arrest. Can you accompany us to the station and cooperate. We don’t want to use force.”

I calmly nod, “Let’s go.”

My security follows me in another car. I can hear Maya shouting, “Yes! He is being arrested. Get me the best lawyer in town, now.” The TV crew and press reporters are following us and I can see camera zooming on the police jeep.





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A to Z: Trail the trail

The post ‘Trail the trail’ is written as part of  ‪#‎AtoZChallenge‬: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. I am doing a novella and we are reaching the climax.


Trail the trail

I slowly open my eyes and veer from dark to blurred and real image, surrounded by white wall and green curtain. Maya is sitting on a chair and gets up to cheerfully greet me. “It’s going to be alright, now,” she says.

I feel unusually at peace with myself and the world seems to be a paradise. I hold her before saying, thank you. She slaps me playfully and says there is no need for formality.

What she is going to say would blow my mind and shatter me into tiny pieces. Maya holds my shoulder and takes my name, ‘Akhil!’. Her words ring in compassion: “You gotta fight it out raw and battle your foes.” She spoke with the confidence of a corporate honcho and ups the tone in her voice.

“You didn’t lose your memory on the fancy of nature or God. After all, Mother India played havoc with you…the shot of Sarilophilia was concocted to conspire with your memory.”

I jump off the hospital bed, “What do you mean?” She laughs, “Sanjana claims to be your girlfriend but she is not. She dances to the tune of Bhai Saab operating from jail. They are after your life since the farm house fracas and the mafia won’t leave you in peace. You’ve been poisoned so that you don’t remember anything and they plan to kill you.”

She walks away and turns her back with a mischievous smile, “Right guess. Everyone in your flat is part of the conspiracy. You gotta slug it out for Bhai Saab is the mafia kingpin. The fight between him and his pals are all made out to make you relish in false victory.”

Maya flings the TV remote control on my lap and urges me to watch live 24 X 7 Live. It’s Breaking News. “Revealed. Akhil Kumar is part of a dreaded gang…a news that has sent the film industry into a tizzy and has shocked his fans…they are burning his effigy everywhere. Has he fallen from grace?”

The TV anchor seems to be bitten by fury when she asks, “Drugs and arms trafficking. Brushing shoulders with underworld and terrorists. Is this the real face of the Hindi film superstar? In a document, senior actor Bhai Saab who is in jail reveals how Akhil Kumar is involved in crimes and spends his time with prostitutes. Mere allegations or reality bite? Time will tell. But, one thing we can tell our viewers that the odds are stacked against the superstar alleging to kill the wife of film producer Meera with whom he had a torrid affair. He used her for personal gains and killed her. Is the country’s youth icon and bravery awardee a maniac?”

I feel dizzy and my knees are weak. My voice is choking. I tell Maya: “It means they are on a trail to destroy me. Perhaps it’s time to slug it out. Let it get dirty. It’s the time to resurrect myself. I have been party to their crimes. I will fight Bhai Saab and his bunch of mafia. I will either destroy their trail or be engulfed by flames. Let the game begin. Call a press conference now.”

Maya tries to reason with me, “But, Akhil…”

I am adamant, “I say NOW.”

Maya presses her lips, “Okay!” before she storms out of the room and shouts on her cell phone. “An urgent press conference…I don’t care. It’s in one hour. Get everyone ready and I want to see all media guys. Pull your socks. Beef up all security and bring the Black cat commandos.”

I chortle to myself and slap my face, caught in a conundrum of emotions, “Ab aayega asli mazaa…the fun starts now…trail the trail.”





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A to Z Challenge: Quagmire

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.