Pop Quiz. A super baddie and three menacing minions charge into your home and start shooting at you and your wife. Since you’re quite satisfied with your current model of spouse and are currently not looking at any exchange scheme saving her is a priority. And since suicide is not on your to do list this week, saving yourself would also be a good idea.
So what’s the first thing you’d do –
- Get the missus to a spot of comparative safety?
- Pull out your own gun and start firing back?
- Wave a white flag and plead for mercy?
Phooey. The first thing any true blue hero would do is pick up his glares lying on the table and wear them. How can he possibly do any daredevil, death defying, world saving action stunts WITHOUT HIS GLARES?
Am I kidding or what? Just telling you exactly what happens in a major action scene in a super huge budget action spectacular film made in Bollywood a couple of years ago!!!
“WHAT THE F*$#%?”
My reaction exactly!
Ok forget the movies. There’s a lot of nonsense in them anyway. Try this.
Autorickshaw drivers go on strike to protest against the fact that traffic cops are catching and fining them for having faulty meters – after all it’s their janam siddha adhikar to luto the public!!!
“WHAT THE F*$#%?”
Well ain’t that what happened in Mumbai city a coupla weeks ago?
Point being, be it in the movies or in real life, so many things make us go WHAT THE F*$#%?”
This column is a kind of journal of my WTF experiences in the course of working in the TV and film industry over the last decade. All of what follows is true, and if any of those mentioned in these anecdotes are reading, well you know who you are and since I haven’t mentioned names, you can’t sue me, so GOTCHA SUCKERS!!!
I LIKE FISH!
Since way too many words have been expended in just explaining the idea of this column to you, my first story is going to be a tad short. But what the hell it’s a doozy and should set the bar for what’s to come.
So let’s flashback to a time when I was still a newbie in the industry, had been around for about a couple of years and had just come on to writing a thriller show for leading channel. This was my first meeting with the channel person on that show, a sweet young gal with a generous heart full of compassion and sensitivity, which was exactly what would lead to my WTF moment…
But let’s not jump the gun. Before the WTF moment there was a good 30 minute narration of my tense and taut screenplay about a psycho terrorist who kidnaps a scientist so as to get him to make a deadly toxin with which to decimate the population of… YAWN, let’s just fast forward to the moment in question.
So anyway the deadly toxin has been created and the terrorist being a dude with severe trust issues thanks to a traumatic childhood (ok, that’s another story) wants to test the toxin. And I’d written a cheap and cheerful scene where the baddie puts the toxin into an aquarium, the fish die and the audience (hopefully) would be horrorstruck at the prospect of what would happen if the toxin were released amongst humanity.
This is the moment where the meeting went to the dogs. Or actually didn’t cause the channel lady liked dogs. Wait, I’m again jumping. So I narrated my aquarium moment and suddenly the channel lady stopped me and said “There’s a problem.”
Any of you who’ve attended meetings with TV channels or movie producers (essentially anyone who gets to decide if you eat Shahi Kofta the next day or scrabble for scraps with stray dogs) know that these three words spell doom and damnation. There was tension in the room, the production house folks were suddenly looking at me as if I was the guy who’d murdered their parents and fornicated with their goats and my writing future was looking bleaker than Manmohan Singh’s chances of another term as PM.
There was no easy way out. So I opened my trap and asked, “What’s the problem.” That’s when the immortal words that shall always be burned in my consciousness were uttered by Channel Lady with sensitivity and compassion
“I LIKE FISH!”
Pin drop silence. Maybe no one spoke cause they were wondering if she was suddenly talking about what the main course at lunch should be. Or maybe they were just following Rule Number 1 when dealing with the Deciders of tomorrow’s Dinner – Don’t talk, Just listen.
But then I’ve never been good with rules. So again I spoke out of turn, “Sorry, I didn’t quite get you.” Then came the illumination which pretty much put all my lights out.
“I like fish. I don’t want fish to be killed.”
More silence. My mind was still grappling with myriad thoughts and possibilities. Maybe the poor girl thought that the Production House, bunch of heartless bastards would slaughter real fish to make the shot look good. So I quickly spoke again, making a total and through ass of myself and said, “Don’t worry, we won’t actually hurt any fish.”
“That’s not the point. I like fish, I don’t want to even show them being hurt.”
Fait accompli. From the looks I was getting, it seemed pretty clear that forget pomfret I wouldn’t be getting to even eat pau wada if I didn’t save my script soon. Aunty was all set to junk the entire episode and if that happened production house would junk me.
I tried another gambit. “So if you like fish, you probably like dogs so we can’t have them being killed right?” The lady with the soft hearted glared at me as if I was dog doo. “I love dogs.”
Two strikes. Last chance else bye bye career. I grabbed at straws. “Do you like people?”.
She glared. “What?”
I quickly clarified, “I mean, what if the terrorist makes one of his guys breathe the toxin, and that guy dies.”
What follows is a Mother Teresa moment. “That’s lovely. We can show him choking and suffering and dying horribly. Superb.”
The production house people beamed. Channel lady was happy. I wasn’t going to be thrown out of the fourth floor. But all I could think was
WHAT THE F*$#%?”
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