The conversations in the party were flowing just as the wine did in their glasses. The rapture in her voice and the cackle in his had already started to gain traction in the smooth nimble waves of the party.
“Well, do you really think though that Presley deserved all of that fame? I mean there were greater stars during his reign and well, sadly, all the future generations would remember is that Presley was the king of rock and roll, right?” Akhil said, staring at the pictures on the Board. “Well, I bet the other kids would have their own rockabilly singers pictures’ pasted right on their boards like I have yours right where the legends of Bollywood could have been”. Radhika pushed aside the documents covering the board’s bottom to reveal his picture smiling. The picture was from the shot of the movie which was completely bollywood-esque.
“It’s not the same thing and you look really good in this picture!” she retorted interrupting him even before he could start arguing.
They giggled at each other like two innocent high school kids who have a crush on each other and have finally been able to talk on that ice-cream date which their friends had set up.
Radhika had recently started working as an assistant director on the sets of the web series which was supposedly going to be the game changer in the online entertainment industry in India. The very reason why Akhil had agreed to be a part of it. Akhil, on the other hand, was a second generation actor, son of one of the greatest actors that Tollywood had ever seen in a constant battle with himself and the world to jump out of his father’s shadow.
Well, that’s the kind of guy he was and that’s the reason why she liked him. ‘
Radhika always found it funny how it was a ritual to have parties before beginning projects in this industry. Her usual stint at the corporate lifestyle couldn’t convince her of the investment made for them either. The current web-series project holds paramount importance for Radhika as this is supposed to be her life’s turning point which would bring her one step closer to her life’s real calling. Her sabbatical from work in the current economy was anyway kind of a deal breaker for her boss at the consultancy and it would break her heart a million times if she has to go back with a failure written on her forehead.
Akhil on the other hand, though didn’t carry the fear of losing either his stature or his survival with the web-series, but something rather instrumental to his existence: his sense of self worth. Growing up with over-shadowing parents and a comfortable lifestyle had made Akhil more conflicted than the genuine brats who find it easier to defend their privileges than to live with the it as a fact of life. Akhil’s reason to leave the spacious corporate office and superfluous meetings and emails were though ironically something which not everyone in today’s world had the ‘privilege’ to adopt. He wanted to do something which could make him ‘feel alive’ rather than waiting for his hair to turn grey with the powerpoint presentations in the board rooms.
While the differences between them could have been the reason of a severe bone of contention, the fluid personalities of theirs brought them together in a world which both of them believed would find it very very difficult to accept their choices. Or her choice, because Akhil already had someone who had accepted him for what he was.
As anyone who was trying to describe their friendship and the bond between them used to generally be deceived, Akhil and Radhika were what in common parlance was known as “just friends”. The fate of shared destinies usually do not encompass raising of so many eyebrows and passing along of so many rumours along with those smirks. In fact, sharing journeys, destinies could be categorised as what humankind stands for yet this one recurrent emotion between two human beings is always expected to fall into one category. From the old super-hit Bollywood movies chant to the newer ones enforcing and reinforcing the attribute that ‘a girl and a boy can never be friends’ or ‘love is friendship and vice versa’ has done nothing except to envelope the numerous layers and perceptible nuances of this bond.
Yet, as cliched it can get, the first time Radhika and Akhil had met was when both of them were mouthing words to songs sitting at a dhaba at 3:00 am in the night which the boy who used to work there was playing. The songs were by the artist who wears the accolade of not just being one of the most famous human beings of our generation but also one of the coolest: Eminem. Well, internet and its reach deceives all of us and one cannot deny the Dhaba boy’s aspiration to become the Gully Boy! Radhika had heard Akhil talk to him the first time about the playlist and it was the conversation thereafter that culminated into a friendship which had finally managed to get the undeserved attention it was destined to.
Radhika had no idea how to deal with the situation. The kind of low profile she had always believed in carrying had led her to have zero experience in dealing with situations where she was the talk of the town. While she surely was very remotely and faintly aware of how these things become bigger than they are and eventually fizzle out, but to be right in the middle of that shit-storm was not something the turning point of her career was supposed to be about. Her self-worth was in danger.
Akhil had sent a car for her to come visit his place that morning. Her nervousness was bouncing like light weighted polymer and all she wanted to do was turn back time to her old secluded desk at the office where writing stories was only a dream and no myriad controversies related to it were threatening to take away all her hard work and shove it under another ‘famous’ story with no talk about talent. Confrontations had always been tough for her and she had no choice but to do this one. Moreover, she might never be able to see a house as huge as this and a star living right under a roof like people do, not usually, but yeah like people do.
There were no guest-like treatments she had hoped for. “The movies overdo it all the time”, she thought to herself.
“Come in! Before we start eating, there’s something I want to show you.”, Akhil walked onto the porch from inside, as sparkly and matter-of-fact cheery as he always was. The calmness on his face made her all the more anxious. The morning really seemed to have been good for him and of course the fact that both of them were ‘supposedly’ having a secret affair confirmed by the tabloids has had no luck in ruining his morning.
“I will introduce you to everyone at breakfast. We have important things to discuss before that”, he interrupted her thoughts. Radhika felt like she was being dragged to the principal’s office during her games period at school.
“So what’s up?”, he said as if everything was alright gesturing her to take a seat across the table. They had entered into what seemed like a personal study. Radhika was astounded as she looked around. There were movie posters and art all over the walls. Not a single one of them had Akhil’s face on it though. It would have been a good joke for her to crack later considering the lectures on self obsession Akhil had already bored her with.
Oh wait! She didn’t know the how badly the things could go wrong between them after this meeting. Maybe no more jokes.
“So, did you like it?”, asked Akhil.
“Yeah sure. Seems very creative and a bit daunting, to be honest”. Radhika had been to creative people’s houses before so many times yet she could never come to peace with the weird art collection people boasted off in their ‘personal study rooms’.
‘Which part? The daunting thing?” he seemed curious.
“I don’t know. I will definitely take some time to put my thoughts into exact words considering I haven’t smelled any nicotine and woken up at like 5 in the morning!”. Radhika was still gauging at the superfluous art ruining what could have been a really simple study room.
“Well considering I sent you the script around three days back I was hoping you would be able to tell me exactly and honestly. I expected a much more positive reaction from you considering it was exactly what you said you wanted to work on!”, he said taking a seat on small desk right beside the window.
That desk was placed in the exact same manner as was one shown in those pictures of the famous writer’s room she had seen. The small brown desk right beside the window. Finally a part of the room which wasn’t superfluous. Stupid Akhil was blocking the view now though.
“What script?” she asked, cluelessly.
“What do you think I was referring to when I asked you if you like it?” he asked.
“Your room?”, she gave a puzzled reply.
“I called you here to talk about my study-room?”, he asked again.
“You called me here to talk about anything else that is going on? People writing things about you and me is not a good topic? Did you not read the newspaper which paints us like lovers who can’t stay apart?”, she blurted finally. She was furious that he wasn’t getting to the ‘elephant in the room.’
“Really?”, the inquisitive eyebrow was raised, Radhika noticed. “I was under the misconception that you’re here to discuss the script which is based on a story you told me when we had started shooting the web series and the one I sent you in no time as soon as of the writers coincidentally pitched something on the similar lines.”, he said folding his hands and standing up.
Radhika was speechless. Everything started to roll back inside her head and play in the reverse gear. She was wrong about all of it. Every single bit of it.
She could see the window and the desk again too. There was something on the wall beside it.
“Wow. See you would think that I must be so embarrassed right now but I had slapped my ex-boyfriend right in the middle of college fest and had started crying immediately thereafter for him to take me back, again amidst everyone. So yeah, I'm maxed out”, came an exasperated reply!
It was that easy. The connection, the friendship or the weird sense of humour or the understanding to visualise life as it was. They could work well when it comes to concepts and ideas and their sense of achievement were build on purposes and things which involved things more than them. Maybe the fact that they gelled together so well was because they could finally find a voice which concurs with theirs in the creative world which is distinctly hard to find.
They decided they would do the script.
Before Radhika could say anything, Shivam ran inside the room smashing himself against his father’s knees. “Well, I think offsprings are another way of the nature playing the cruel joke on reminding how funny you really look!”, said Radhika.
Both of them started laughing. See, easy.
“Yeah well. There will be a difference between an actor and a director in perceiving things always. What can we do?”, said Akhil.
“Did you notice the board in front of the window desk though?” he asked with a mischievous smile.
“Yeah I noticed how pretty that desk was. It’s the same way it was in the famous writer’s room you know….’, she trailed off as she turned back to have a final look.
There was her picture at the bottom of the Board. On the top of the Board a small handwritten note said ‘Inspirations’.