Meet the hero of my film. Wait, but before that let me introduce him because he deserves an entrance grander than any of Akshay Kumar’s gravity-defying heaven-ly descents or Shahrukh Khan’s romantic heart-squeezing dimpled turning-around’s in each of their respective films. So to launch the hero of my film, let me present two scenes to you.
Scene 1, Take 1.
Location: Inside our apartment complex in Delhi.
Occasion: Diwali celebration
Since our apartments are inhabited by the relatively more middle of middle class families, I request you to kindly not mentally visualize a rich and lavish celebration. Picture more of the below:
- A bunch of middle aged men and women awkwardly smiling at each other for the first five minutes
- Sharing sweets over-indulgently for the next ten minutes
- And then letting themselves lose on the makeshift dance-floor for the next ninety minutes or an almost exploded heart, whichever is sooner
- Not more than five people of under twenty-two years of age as the others hide in bathrooms out of embarrassment at their parents’ conduct
Now that you have visualized the right setting for the introduction of our hero, you can start picturing him. Visualize somebody who dances gracefully, in beat with the music, stays within acceptable physical space without encroaching spaces of other dancers on the floor and maintains an overall good demeanor.
Now visualize somebody completely opposite of what you just imaged. That is our hero.
For good measure, add daring cries like, “Oyeeiiiii”, “Hatttttt” and “oooooaaaa” and you have a pretty good three-dimensional view of what I’m talking about.
Scene 2, Take unlimited
Location: Inside our apartment complex in Delhi.
Occasion: A fight over parking space
Given how parking spaces are disappearing in Delhi like sparrows from metro cities, there is often a fight over parking spaces where we live. The gentleman in question, having a lot of time at his hand, often appoints himself the mediator should any such altercation take place in or around his domicile.
On this particular day, he chanced upon the scene after much water had passed under the bridge already. Expletives of the highest order had been flung about and faces of much rage been illustrated. Our hero knew that his role as mediator would not really be of great consequence since the fury had almost subsided and one of the said parties had almost accepted downfall. But a hero’s a hero. How can he leave the scene without delivering a gut-wrenching performance? How can he let the climax conclude without a powerful cameo? So he braced himself to deliver two lines that would help take the last scene to an emotional peak, looked at the person who had accepted defeat and said:
“You know you are an active scoundrel.” His eyes burned red. “And that is worse than being an inactive one.”
Now that you are immersed in the context, let’s start all over again. Meet the hero of my film. Mr. Taneja.
Mr. Taneja is a recently retired man whose two children are settled in ‘phoren’. He has jet black hair but my guess is their virility is thanks to Ayushi herbal mehendi which his wife swears by. On this particular evening that I am recounting in this post, Mr. Taneja sat in the park looking despondent.
Me: What happened Taneja ji?
Mr. Taneja: Bas, the usual worry.
I suddenly realized I had shoved my foot onto an axe.
Me: Oh, movies and…
Mr. Taneja: …state of women in them.
Me: Right. Which one this time?
Mr. Taneja: How does it matter, ji?
Me: Right. All of them are the same…
Mr. Taneja: …showing women in such poor light…
Me: …wearing short clothes…
Mr. Taneja: …and…
Mr. Taneja: …actually let us not even go into the details! It is deplorable, sad, pitiable…
Me: Very good idea of not going into details! So how if you Mrs. Taneja? Not to be seen today? Isn’t it time for her evening walk?
I started moving only very slightly.
Mr. Taneja: …disappointing, tragic…
Mr. Taneja: I’m thinking…
Me: …of filing a PIL…
Mr. Taneja: …yes, and maybe this time also writing a petition to the government and a letter to all newspapers and media channels.
Me: Right. How many films did you watch last week to study violations of the Indian culture?
Mr. Taneja: Thirty-one. There are so many films being made, it is getting very difficult each day to watch all of them. You know, some times I have to watch up to five films a day, because around twenty films release each week; plus I have back log from years when I didn’t realize my duty to the Indian culture and society.
Me: Right. Ok so…
I fidgeted to make a move.
Mr. Taneja: I am thinking of proposing this in the next Resident Association meeting. If we all join forces, we can totally free our culture of any…
Mr. Taneja: No, influ-… eh?
Me: Oh, there’s Mrs. Taneja.
He got up quickly as if a current had passed through his body.
Mr. Taneja: I have to go and call the electrician.
He disappeared faster than Mr. India and I got an opportunity to spend some agreeable time in the company of Mrs. Taneja. I decided against briefing her on the just concluded dialogue. She didn’t need freshly baked molten lava cakes when she lived inside the volcanic hill itself.
After coming home, I caste a tender glance towards my own husband who despite all his precarious habits exasperated me way-y-y-y-y less. The husband, understandably, looked puzzled and checked his face in the mirror for any leftover namkeen, which I had found him demolishing. As I sat down with a relaxing cup of tea next to him, I thought about Mr. Taneja. After a few sips all my aggravation was gone. It was not Mr. Taneja’s fault. He was suffering from a disease called ‘seriousness’.
“Unki Condition Serious Hai!” I suddenly exclaimed and the husband looked at me, this time more scared than puzzled.
“Kinki? Kya hua?”
“Unhe 5 Star khilani padegi.”
“Kinhe? Kya hua?”
“Kuch nahi. Chai piyo.”
I pointed towards his cup which he hadn’t yet noticed. He started sipping on it and continued working on his notes for the next Resident Association meeting.