On 10th Jan, 2022 I had attended a censor film screening at Peddar road office. I think it was at 11am. I reached back home around 3pm. Somehow I was feeling tired, so I slept in hall. It became a rather lengthy sleep session. Tiredness was still there. I did not think much about it. I should have actually. I don’t sleep like this every time I return from a film. I was called again two days later, on 12th. After returning home I was again just too tired, so slept again. People told me that I should go in my room and sleep. They got thermometer. It seems I had 101 fever. It was confirmed now I was sick. My throat in the meanwhile had started misbehaving. I would cough too much and for rather long time. I spoke to my doctor on phone. He immediately prescribed medicines and sent the prescription by text message. I in turn sent it to medical store and they sent me 5 days medicines. 10 tablets, 2 a day, morning evening. Since I fell sick when Omicron is a very popular infection, ‘Covid-19 test’ was booked for next day that is on 14th. Lab guy came at 8am. Took swabs and went off. I knew I have got it. Rightly enough ‘Covid-19 positive’ email was received next morning. Now I had to be quarantined in my tiny room. My door was to remain shut properly. My food will be placed on a chair when required. After I go to washroom no one will go there for 30 min. My appetite went down drastically as there was no walk due to body-ache and no place to walk. Sleep, sleep and more sleep. I would return half my meals uneaten. These must have been some of my most troublesome days that I can remember. I felt suffocated.
Three days later I realized that we did not have to be quarantined. So out I came and started taking short walks in hall. In the meanwhile medicines had started showing results. My fever went away after 2 days. On day 3 it was completely normal. Slowly appetite returned, throat became fine and body ache also evaporated. All the tablets were consumed between 13th and 18th. I was told medically I could go out on 22nd Jan. So promptly I did get out for a 20 min walk on that day.
Although by then most of the world’s population had been Covid affected, I woke up to really late to get positive.
My right eye is red. It hurts a bit too. As if I got something stirring inside there. But I know there isn’t anything. I got some eye drops from the chemist. It was his suggestion, ‘here, you will be fine in a day’. Eir called first, “whats up bro?” I told him about my right eye. Bir was next to call,” why aren’t you out for a walk?” I told him I haven’t been out for two days. “But why?” Phatte demanded. “Did not feel like it. My back is also getting a bit stiff.” I was worried these three friends of mine were going to drop by to ‘enquire’ about my health and that’s not going to be very healthy for me.
They came, enquired about me and then they left… left me in, kind of worse health…
Here are excerpts of a weird conversation that almost never took place between me, Eir, Bir, and Phatte:
Eir: Hey, your right eye is red. Me: Yeah (joking) I told you that. Maybe it is the red eye effect. Bir: Red eye effect? But that happens to the people in the photographs. Me: Yeah? Then maybe I am also a photograph. Eir: Ha ha ha. Are you a picture? How come? Me: No; I may not be a picture, like a flat 2-D print or something; but maybe I am a film. I mean I am being projected like a film! Phatte: Oh, so you are getting into film technology here, your own field, huh? Me: I don’t know that, but I really feel I am an image being projected from somewhere high up… may be from near the sun. Bir: From the sun? Me: (excited) yes that’s it. The sun is the bright Helium (Xenon) lamp inside the projector and I am being projected as a 3-D film from there. Doesn’t it look pretty real? Eir: Real? That means the ‘real you’ has to be somewhere between ‘you here’ and the sun. Me: Hmm… I guess so. Phatte: Oh come on. If he is being projected from the sun, then even that would be only his image. Bir: And (chuckling) who might have made that film (touché)? Me: (lost) oh please. Phatte: Do you know what you are saying? Me: What? What I did I say? Phatte: You are saying that your film has already been shot and is being projected right NOW! Me: Yes I am saying that… I guess. Eir: You obviously mean that all of us are also part of this 3-D film that you are talking about? Phatte: So what is all this? What are we? Are we all just Maya or are we real? Me: (confused) I guess Maya in reality is illusion. Bir: (more confused) where does that take us? Me: Where do you want to go? We are real illusions…
Eir, Bir and Phatte looked at each other’s faces, get very angry. They think I am fooling them. They beat me up bad and left fuming and grumbling. I am left with a red right eye that hurts just a little bit. But after using the eye drops twice, color of my eyes is already pale pink instead of red. I will be fine in the morning.
When your wishes get fulfilled and start falling in your lap means, that you truly deserved the good luck. And in all probability you will do well with them.
I just happen to call a friend casually and she asked me if I wanted to see the movie, ‘Paa’. She added Amitabh and Abhishek will also attend. I was happily surprised and obviously said ‘yes’! Seeing Paa was high on agenda for me. Also I had not yet seen Abhishek personally.
Show was at 1.30 pm in a nearby multiplex. It was passed 12 noon. I rushed up with my bath, dressed up and most importantly had my lunch. I can’t stay hungry beyond a few minutes after my due ‘eating’ time. I gobbled up ‘roti subzi’ from my plate as slowly as I could and was at the theatre before 1pm. I was a bit early. I relaxed after rushing things for past 45mins. Deliberate relaxing is so important.
In a few minutes I noticed some tourist buses were being parked by the side of the gate of the theater. Buses normally are not allowed in. Some security guards were running between the buses and managers. I knew the students of DEEDS had arrived. The buses had to be parked inside the compound for their safety. I took charge of communicating this to the manager. Soon it was organized. Nearly 200 young boys and girl students in uniforms queued up at the entrance of the multiplex, under the instructions of their teachers. They were not using words to communicate; but gestures or squeals – they were all deaf. DEEDS is an NGO that runs regular and vocation schools to provide education to deaf young adults. They have nearly 20 centers in Mumbai and elsewhere in India.
Soon I was in my seat along with all those happy children. They were so excited. Such outings are always special since they are bit rare. It did cross my mind as to how will they get the dialogues of the film; but I gave it no further thought. Anyone can easily understand the storyline of a movie without hearing ‘sound’. Well may be I am putting the movie ‘sound recordist’, out of jobs but that’s a fact that for many years the movies were silent. Later on they did add music and some effects to Charlie Chaplin movies and I hated it. I had seen them completely silent way back in 1969…
I am told that Amitabh and Abhishek will joins us after the show. Somehow I thought if Jaya also would come with them. It would have been nice to meet her. The film started and there she was on the screen. She was reading all the names in the titles. So, it was seeing her in person, since she was not acting. Cool. I got another wish, which I only thought about.
Soon screening started. Theater fell silent.
Everything about the film was good. Producers had planned ‘not’ to dramatize Auro’s sickness ‘progeria’, to earn sympathy points. He was there as everyone else. Only a small change that I will make will be in Amitabh’s introduction’ in the movie. I would have certainly put a few students in the toilet where Auro is first seen. They don’t have to call him by his name and all. It would be more normal to fill up the ‘loo’ a bit more and add some passing. There was no need to give him a filmy ‘introduction’ – hogging the frame all by himself! Rest all was great.
There was short intermission during which organizers had a small big job to do. They taught the students currently popular ‘jig’ that Amitabh does in the film; to present it in front of him. They learnt it pretty fast in 2-3 rehearsals only. Finally on cue, children in entire theatre did those complicated arms movements. They were ready.
Second half of the film was more engrossing, which is not too common in Hindi cinema. Most films fail in this area, especially in the climax…
‘Paa’ has a beautiful end.
We had to wait for 10 minutes for the father and son duo to appear, and appear they did. After excited exchange of hand waves between delighted children and the Bachchans, things settle down. Bachchan senior joined children in the jig they were ready for. Both Bachchans spoke about the movie, mostly during a chat with press.
Amitabh: the make-up for the film was very difficult and tiring. It used to take 4-4.30 hours to put it on and 2-2.30 hours to remove it. During this entire time I could not speak, laugh, eat or drink. After that we would be shooting for 6-7 hour on every working day. Our make-up persons were from abroad. And they did a wonderful job. The head of a progeria patient becomes very large, hair is lost and the veins on the scalp become visible. Since I am playing a 13 year old, I could not do anything about my height. Second point was that eyes of progeria patients bulge out. They become very large, which also we could not do. Although there is an injection which when given in the eyes can make them large; but everyone opposed the idea, as it would have had adverse affect on my health.
Abhishek: I carry him in the film, because I am his father here, otherwise I am always sitting on his shoulders. “Mere paas maa hai”, is a line from one his father’s films, but I am happy kyonki “mere paas Paa hai”.
I watched Bollywood’s most famous ‘father and son’ in a good mood, very witty and relaxed. Amitabh especially handled a battery of young and stupid media very well, providing them with in depth answers (read gems) to silly questions (read roadside gravel).
I was on my way to the airport to meet someone. I was in an auto. I always travel by autos. They are cheaper, more easily available and open to uninterrupted flow of breeze. The auto stopped under a coming up fly-over near Andheri station. Frankly, quarter of Mumbai is perpetually under construction. As I was checking a message on my phone, I felt somebody in a car was looking at me. You can get this feeling, when such things happen. I turned towards that car and found a young boy clicking my picture on his cell phone. Perhaps he did not know the rules of social decency. I objected and told him that you cannot click anyone’s picture without his permission. But to my surprise he turned out to be a cheeky bum. Idiot said ‘sir just one more, ok?’ He clicked another one and rolled his glass up, as he and his friends did high5 and laughed aloud. I was aghast! Traffic had started moving. The car got space to speed up. I was in top irritated gear. I told the auto driver to follow that car. Old man got tense and asked if the car turns right from the road? We have to go straight. Never mind I told him; just follow him. I want to teach that bum a lesson; spoiled bloody brat! Auto squeezed through the narrow gaps and got closer to the car. The brats noticed and panicked. There was no scope for them to take off under a under construction fly over. They were also not so close for me to get down and give them a good fight. Signal was green, so the traffic kept moving gradually, taking my anxiety level to well above the red. When you are on such roads, your anxiety levels are any ways, way higher due to noise, dust, smoke, heat, hanky on your nose… and then someone takes your photos and runs off! Something had to be done. I was not taking it sitting in an auto. The car turned right, as the driver had doubted. Stupid driver, why did he have to say that? Hasn’t he heard of ‘if anything can go wrong, it will’, Murphy’s simple law? I shouted don’t worry, turn right and follow them. We can go from Vile Parle fly over. The chase had started on S V Road now. The car passed the location where they shoot ‘Shapath’ and I had my first meeting with the producers. Car was now increasing the distance between us. Luckily I saw the Irla signal turning red. This is where Nokia Customer Center is located. I had just been there to get details about ‘whatsapp’ for a favorite person. Now was the chance to give a hard knock on that car window… Suddenly I heard a shrill brake sound. Auto stopped with a jerk. My head almost hit driver’s back. Huh, he exclaimed and then said, 65.
I looked around. Oh my god! I think I need to make some corrections in the above story. It is true that I was under that fly over in Andheri. It is also true that Mumbai is perpetually under construction or repairs. Even a car had stopped next to my auto. But from here things seemed to have changed dramatically. Actually I remember it now, when that white car had stopped next me, it bounced a nice strong light that filled in inside the auto. I saw my face in the rear mirror and found the lighting interesting and clicked a picture. It came out good. Then out of greed, I took one more, thinking two is better than one. Those idiots were watching me from their car and must have found it clearly narcissistic. I hated it that they had noticed me doing that – clicking my own pictures. Though I admit to indulge in it quite often, of course in private moments mostly. But right now I felt as if someone had seen me masturbating. I told the auto driver if that car goes straight, you turn right. We will go from the Vile Parle fly over.