“Bak Bak Bak….Cheeeki Cheeki Keech Keech”….a crazy looking man, caked in mud jumped out in front, dancing all around making silent growls.
“God you scared the living daylights out of me. For a second, I thought you were Raavan”, she gasped, putting on her best Oprah Winfrey-show-worthy accent.
“I am Raavan…..or as they say Veera Veera Veera….aur maine hamming se screen ko cheera”. His eyes opened wide.
“No I just meant that the way you sprung out from nowhere, I thought you were the dear-hunting, pavement-dweller-killing ex…..well never mind….but why are you jumping about, making faces like Crimemastergogo?”
“….I am Gilli Gilli Gilli……..Raavan…..paidaishi chor hoon aaya hoon to kuch leke jayoonga…chahe woh bicycle ho ya ek piece plastic”.
The director stepped out from behind the camera, an exasperated sound escaping his lips.
“Cut cut cut”
The man who called himself Raavan raised his hands in desperation.
“Come on wifey. Throw me a line here. I have been doing method acting, trying to get inside the head of a cross between Veerappan, Kobad Gandhy, Chattradhar Mahato and Ravana, caking myself with dung, haldi, mud, black paint, claiming to have jumped from the top of a ninety-foot gorge (while my stunt double does it) and you have to suddenly get all Pink Panther on us.”
She looked exasperated.
“So what? Even I am trying to channelize Ms. God-Of-All-Things here, trying to show the brigands of Lalgarh or LalMaati or whatever this place is called are bigger heroes than policemen. But you just freaked me out man with your “Hey Cheetah Get Banana Hey Monkey Get Funky” acting, even more so than you do everyday when you wear that hairband of yours. Now don’t push me too much ya, the only reason I have consented to being abducted by you is because you are my husband and I am among the few people who will act opposite you, considering the state of your career. To be honest, this is a fate even worse than an Agnipariksha and a Patalpravesh. God, to think I could be walking in an off-shoulder Bali creation in Cannes right now than be here stuck on this goddamn set.”
The director walked up standing right between the two.
“Come on guys. Stop fighting.”
She turned towards the director, the irritation sharp in her voice.
“Sir, I am sick and tired of being drenched in water everyday. If I had known this whole movie takes place under a shower and in a gigantic bathtub, I would have put on more water-resistant L’Ordeal makeup. You know I am totally worth it.”
The director already had taken enough. Now he too attacked.
“Listen you two. How about some gratitude here? I got the best script-writer I could get for this movie, the guy who almost wrote the Mithunda movie “Ravaanraaj”. For you Mr. anti-hero, I gave you the whole Prabhuji persona—–the anguished man whose sister has been “lamba kiya” by the villains. I gave you lines like “Chauda ghanta baad maregi” on the lines of “Tere maut ke date fix ki hai” and total originals like when you peek into the hero’s “tent” and say ——“Hum dekhe uske tamboo main kuch hain….photo” and “Raja ke tambu main rakshas ka phootoo” . And just to complete the picture, I also gave you a “cheel-chaal ke chakka” henchman.”
She asked “Forget Raavan. Where is the hero right now ? Shouldn’t he be like here?”
The director turned away ” He is playing Raavan in the Tamil version.”
The man playing Raavan in the Hindi version shouted “Hey I thought we were making some friggin high art here. ‘The fair is foul and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air’ thing, the kind of movie that would make me look cerebral. But all you have are some fancy camera tricks and slow motion shots and nothing in terms of a story or acting or a novel treatment. Even I can realize that. For crying out loud, you are one of India’s most visionary directors, you made some of the best commercial movies of the last thirty years—what’s happened to you?”
At that moment the penny dropped. She knew the truth.
Screaming even higher than she had done in the entire movie, she let loose—-“Wait ….wait… that’s not the Director is it? Oh my God…….. it’s actually Mareech in disguise ! Oh no ! Ramu —-is that you?”
There was no response. Just the silence of an empty hall.