A renowned scriptwriter in Malayalam told me this story as we were traveling in the Parasuram Express chair car.
He (shall we call him Mahavir?) was an English movie buff. I guess scriptwriters are all movie buffs. That’s one source of inspiration for them.
Allow me to deviate for a minute before I continue with the story.
‘Have you read Tess of D’urbeville?”, Mahavir asked me after I introduced myself as a teacher of English Literature.
‘Pokkaan pattiya oru kathayaanelley?’!!!!!? Literally that meant, “It’s a story worth ‘lifting’, eh?”
I stared at him incredulously. Not that I thought all scripts were original; but this guy was so honest and open about it.
I took an instant liking to him, and he proved to be a pleasant unassuming gentleman and an excellent conversationalist during the course of the journey,
Now to come back this story.
He and his wife used to watch the VCR daily, and it invariably used to be English movies. Their little five-year-old son also was part of this little audience. This necessitated having to fast forward certain scenes.
One day, Mahavir and his wife got into a serious discussion of some family matter while watching an English movie on the VCR. A decision had to be taken and they were weighing the pros and cons of the situation. This activity distracted them from the movie and they turned sideways on the three seater settee to be able to look at each other. Their little son sat between them.
The issue got more and more complicated and they lost their bearings completely – till the little boy shouted shrilly, excited, at the top of his panic stricken voice: ‘Papa papa, quick, quick. Fast forward, fast forward. Quick”.
His shouts brought them down to earth and they looked at him pointing to the screen, which showed a steamy scene between two mega Hollywood stars. Mahavir grabbed the remote, but before he could fast forward it do it, the scene was over.
“Chey papa, it over. No point in fast-forwarding it now’, observed the five year old philosophically.
I met this scriptwriter recently, some twenty years later, at a twin theatre. His film was being premiered and he was there to promote it. He came to me when he saw me.
I smiled, impressed that he recognized me after all these years.
“I’ve come to see X movie”, I told him
“Oh, not Y?’ he asked, looking disappointed.
“What’s your interest in Y?’ I asked. I’m laid back on these things. Besides I have a terrible memory. I forget what I read even before I put down the paper.
‘Y is my movie. It’s my script’
‘Ok, shall see it tomorrow. I’ve already bought tickets for the other’.
‘Ok, fine’, he said, and turned away, looking for those who had come to see HIS movie.
“Do you know him?’ asked my friend with whom I’d gone to the theatre.
I told her the story of that train journey.
‘But he didn’t recognize you’, she said.
‘No?’ I asked disappointed. ‘Then why did he come to me smiling, as though he recognized me?’
‘That’s because your face brightened up when you saw him. He thought you recognised him to be the famous Mahavir, the person who had written the script for the movie you’d come to see. Besides, he wanted to promote his movie. After all, he wrote a script after a very long break’.
I knew she was right, and felt a little crestfallen.
Anyway, I told myself. Who do you think you are, Molly? You think you made a lasting impression on him with you showoffy lecture on Tess of D’urberville?