Friday, April 15, 2011

What you are not

The movie came to an end. The giant screen went blank after the last credit rolled out. The song phased out. The silence echoed through the huge white hall. He looked at his reflection on the screen. He continued looking at it for a while.

It was late at night and the moon lit a large part of the hall, making it look silvery. The windows let in the cool air and he felt himself going back to his childhood when he would sleep on the open terrace under the summer moon. Since the time he could afford it, he had bought houses on the topmost floor of increasingly tall buildings. Every one of them with a skylight. It was a feeble effort to try and shut out the lights of the rest of the world while he tried hard to remember that childhood.

Nobody knew who he was or what it was like being him. Every body wanted to be him, dress like him, talk like him. But every one who did an imitation of him, did it differently, depending on the movie that they had watched. Because, in no two movies did he repeat himself. There was no characteristic expression or gesture that he carried from one movie to the next. Even when he played the same kind of role, they turned out different. Film makers had to fight their urge to allow him to play the same story with a few changes here and there, simply because his ability to bring a character to life inspired them to explore their own creativity.
He, on the other hand, loved the details that writers put in outlining his characters. There was depth and life in the roles that he played.

That night he lay on the cool white floor under the moon peeking through his skylight and he thought of his last conversation with his manager. People wanted to make a movie of his life. With him in the lead role. "It will be the easiest role you have ever done. No month off to get in to character, no research and no crazy costumes. Your fans will love it, easy money and little work. You can make the movie and then make it to that vacation you have not had for the past 15 years."

The moon had moved right in the middle of the skylight. He knew that he wouldn't make that movie. He had always known that his life would catch up with him some day. And he had known that when that happened, it would be the end of his career and life as he knew it. How wrong they were. It would be his toughest movie ever. He would have to take that vacation first. He would have to find who he was. And when he did find out, that would be the end. He would no longer be able to play any other role.

He thought of that night long ago. He had just come back home from the movies. He had watched his favourite super-hero thrash evil and turn back time to bring back the dead. He felt himself flying as the hero flew. He felt victorious when the hero won. He lived that life for 180 minutes and then wanted more. That night on the roof he had decided, that he would be that guy in the movies.

He had been that guy all these years. Now people wanted him to play himself. He would have to go back to that night. He would have to be that hero again.
He would have to turn back time to bring himself back.

The skies were becoming light and Manu looked outside the window. He had lots to write yet. He had so many details to fill in.

He would have to make it this time. He remembered his last bitter fight with his agent. "Everyone writes stories for movies. Who ever has heard of an occupation as a short story writer. If you want me to continue as your agent, you have got to write a movie script for me." How hard was it anyway.

He couldn't decide if his actor's childhood would be shown in a montage of clips or with a voice-over. How to fill in a 2 hour movie with just one actor and a voice over. There would have to be so many more people in a film actor's life of course. How would the story end. How would he depict these words without actually using them.

Manu went on writing, breaking just for badly made meals and a few hours of sleep in between. At the end of the month, he found himself standing over his paper basket. There were more sheets in there than in the pile that he felt he could keep. He still had a long way to go. He would have to make it acceptable to his nitpicking agent.

At the end of the next month, he looked at his story again. It had all the elements. His principle character was sketched out. The other characters had their roles well defined. There was a plot. There was a climax. The ending had a twist. It was perfect.

He sat down at his computer and typed in his story. Thanks to push button publishing, Manu had his next short story on his blog.