Saturday, May 22, 2010

Behind the scenes

It was exactly a year ago. I had resigned from my job at "chill out" before I went for my PG ; one way - the Indian School of Business or the other - the university of Michigan.
Chill out I did. If you can call a landslide-cyclone packed trek in Sikkim + a weekend out in pristine Agumbe + a vacation in Singapore, Malaysia and Kashmir, that ;)

In between setting off on this tangent (:)) I had been to Texas Instruments[TI], Bangalore for an audition for a short film they were making. I very well knew I would be gone soon and that the film would take some time (considering it was an unconventionally creative venture by ..umm engineers). Yet the idea of acting kept me mum (I did not lie, mind you) so I could relish a few rehearsals atleast if I could.
So I walked in sheepishly that evening into the TI studio. I had not acted for more than 3 years then. Som, Neeraj and Prashant (my friend from RVCE who had called me for auditions) were all there. No smiles, no sweet-nothings. It was so silent I almost heard their thoughts. Just another outsider desperate to get on camera. Everybody else was from TI. "Relax" I told myself. "Be humble. Just do your best".
They had a piece from a Jack Nicholson movie that they handed us all to act out by turns. The first rendition was the conventional one, as had to be. I went over it as did 3-4 other people. I could sense the jury (Som and Neeraj) already handing the role to their colleague who I felt I did better than (you must take my word that I was objective). It was then that Neeraj , I think, had this brilliant idea of doing the scene - CRAZILY. Believe me, only he could think of it. I was thankful that they were actually interested in digging out talent and not just looking for someone who could only do one role (that they had in mind) well.
Cameras rolled, and I, for one, couldn't wait to do it.
"You are the same character. But show villainy". They told me. The plot, let me explain, was a woman talking a detective into proving her husband unfaithful.
I jumped into it. Thankfully all the years had not curbed the spontaneity. I felt I was getting back to being myself. I felt alive.

It went okay-ish. Maybe I overacted. They gave me some feedback and I did it again. I could tell I got their attention what with reminding the detective his lines too and helping him pronounce my 'husband's' name...

Next they could have been throwing a meteor at me. They asked me if a certain Ms Sawant was to be the woman, how would she do it? I pleaded for some mercy but got none. "Alright, bring it on." Only once when I was doing it did I catch Som's eye. I did not stop to analyse the look. When I was done, something told me I had gotten the role. Suddenly I felt like I had known them for so long. Som and Neeraj and I - it felt like - we were online friends meeting for the first time. We spoke the same language. Prashanth stood behind, beaming. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Thanks Prashanth, for making that call!

They were rehearsals every week and the thought of my post-graduation went out the window. Neeraj's antics with the dialogues, the kidnapping scenes, our I didn't have enough.
I did have some time before I had to take a call. I asked myself if I couldn't stay on and do this all my life..? Had these guys been regular film makers, or had I been in TI, maybe I would have done that. Really.
The next morning I called Som and told him of my PG admit. He was cool about it. It was so easy to tell him, as it was to tell Neeraj. Only Vibhor, the third juror :P (Prashanth told me later) complained that I should have not come for auditions if I didnt mean to see it through. As for Prashanth, he was in it all the time :) A true friend.
Whatever Vibhor thought and whatever anyone else said, I know I was guilty on that account, but that one 'crime' won me happy moments and 2 invaluable friends who I truly adore for their creativity. They reinstated the faith in me that even among engineers can be people like them. Som, Neeraj, Prashanth this one's for you guys.