Life is a Tamasha. We are social actors emulating our part and most of the times screwing our lines, afflicted by social conditioning since childhood but also largely afraid to change the established rules of the game to grow. We are cowards. I was a big coward. I am a still one.
This week Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha celebrated 2 years since it hit the marquee at the Indian box office. A movie that changed my life and brought me face-to-face to challenge my inner and outer demons. We are conditioned and wrongly taught to behave in a certain fashion and reluctant to dare challenge the status quo. We are the products of a failed system. I am one. Time to accept it.
There is a little bit of Ved, the character effortlessly played by Ranbir Kapoor in all of us, men and women. We are cowards. We seek social validation from others and if a crystal ball could whisper our deep darkest fear, secrets, and future, we would respond accordingly.
The year 2015 was a horrible phase in my life and it was a repeat of the turmoil that I was facing since 2013 and 2014. I became cranky, negative, pessimist and frustrated for nothing was working. Failure was written all over my face. I was battling an identity, social and professional crisis with debt mounting large on my head. My approach was wrong. I never had it so tough and odds were stacked against me. There was simply no way out to overcome my troubles. In short, I lack (ed) the social skills to deal with things.
It was an unsatisfactory job where we were not paid our salary in time that pushed me to desperately take a low paying job in a factory that was much below my academic and professional achievements. To wake up in the morning was a pain and was counting every second, minute and hour. I became a living corpse. But, I had debts to pay and the money came from that fucked up job. There was no way for me to afford to sit idle at home minus the fund.
Then, the universe conspired with each other for Imtiaz Ali to make Tamasha for me and millions across the world. There was something about the film. Remember Piyush Mishra telling Ved, ‘Kayar ho tum (You are coward). Ouch! It hurts. I was Ved. I may employ defense mechanism refusing to see reality but deep inside I know that risk tasking has never been my forte. I have always dodged challenges in life and refused to face grief, pain, rejection, and failure in life. I ran away from Mumbai years ago when the last relationship didn’t work out for I know staying in the city would remind me of her.
Suddenly, everything that blocked my nerves and mental well-being cascaded on my head and emotions steam rolled to make me see things with a clearer mind. I had to carve out my own script. I was sitting in the theatre. Tears rolled down the cheek. It cannot continue in this way, I told myself. Then one day, I woke up in the morning and watched myself in the mirror. I couldn’t recognize that guy. It was not me. I lost the verve to live and asked where has my never-say-die attitude gone? I was always someone who would never accept defeat. But, in that stage, I lost my mojo. I was not real. I became fake. Something must be done. The Ved in me was convinced.
There was no point living a life replete with suffering and unhappiness. What was I doing to myself? Except carrying my coffin on an overburdened shoulder. So what? Yes! This Ved had to reclaim his mojo. It doesn’t matter that I will have no fund and swim against the tide. But, I promise not be carried away by the tide of unhappiness and growing frustration. It was time for me to experiment, go blank and tread in the present or future that bears no uncertainty.
The first thing that I did: Took the risk to resign. It was a huge gamble financially. I had pending loans and EMI bill to settle. But, there was a force within that told me that things would fall into place. It felt like every possible force conspired for my well-being. I pulled my luggage stacked with memories of my college days in Pune and found a poster I bought in the year 2005 on the pavement on FC Road for 5 bucks.
‘Don’t quit…when things go wrong as they sometimes will…when the funds are low and the debts are high…rest if you must but don’t quit.’ I stick the poster on the wall. It emerged as a catalyst. My friends during the formative years at Fergusson College have always been my strength who keep defining my identity and something that I forgot but Tamasha served as a reminder that things will not be awry forever. After all, I studied in the best place in Pune, Fergusson College and had a successful stint as a journalist. If things have been good once, life ultimately gives a second or third chance.
If there was one thing I learned from Tamasha, it is be unafraid to fail, take risks or experiment with life, no matter what. Immediately after my resignation, I landed into a freelance contract and a second project as a survey consultant followed. It felt that my voice and pain never went unheard. Today, I am a consultant for a PR firm and Senior Special Correspondent for a business website, surrounded by the right kind of people where I can afford the luxury to work from home. I am a late bloomer. I may not be in the perfect stage of life but am today in a very happy space.
I am a work in progress. There will always be ups and downs in life. Thank you, Imtiaz Ali, for Tamasha has taught me a great deal about never shying to take risks, not be bogged down by social conditioning, experiment while on the edge of the cliff and accept the coward that I am. Being self-aware and living in the moment or never be shy of dreaming the life I always wanted to is my real Tamasha. Yes! I haven’t given the hope of making a short film or acting on the silver screen one day. There is no age to pursue one’s dreams and taking risks no matter what happens for life has a way to hold your fingers to carry you on this journey. Tamasha has been a game changer in my life and altered my destiny.