Ok, so it’s the start of a brand new year. But, there we are, with the same old news- devastating fires in TV studios and lounge bars, caste riots, forced bandhs, our politicians coming up with silly ideas- like limiting the number of Indian visitors to the Taj Mahal, (seriously, they could give Trump a run for his money for the most brainless ideas), Lalu Prasad being sent back to jail for the ninth time for the fodder scam….ho hum….new year, anyone?
As I was contemplating on the vagaries of our country, the phone rang. It was from the office of Mr Moneybags. Oh bliss! I had been running after him for an interview for God-knows-how-long, and finally, here was my chance to snag it. I answered the phone on the fourth ring, not wanting to show my desperation, you know. It was his secretary calling. What was her name now…Lucy? Lily? Lola? Uh oh…It’s always better to remember secretaries’ names. After all, your interview hinges on whether they are pleased with you, or pissed off.
“Good Morning, Ms L. I’m so pleased you made the time to call,” I said glibly, winging it at the last minute.
“A very good morning to you too, Mr Journalist. About that interview you wanted, with Mr Moneybags– I’m glad to tell you that he will meet you today for an exclusive interview. At 7 pm sharp, His office. See you there.” And with that she hung up. So much for my smooth talking. But, yes, I had my interview- an exclusive! And without grovelling before Ms L, too. Mr Moneybags had something up his sleeve. I could feel it in my bones. Well, I would find out at 7 pm!
At 7 pm sharp, I landed at the doorstep of Mr Moneybags- the producer with more money and not an iota of good taste, in my opinion. Ms L ushered me in, and there I was, face to face with him.
Him: Arey, Journalist, where were you. Long time, no see.
Me (cringing at the imbecile choice of words): Sir, I was here only; working my ass off, while the rest of the world was partying.
Him: Oh, but I can see you still have your ass…..hahahaha!
I cringed again, this time at the bad humour, and his laughter at his own joke.
Me: So, Mr Moneybags, I’m happy you granted me an interview. I believe it is an exclusive interview. So, what is that earth-shattering piece of news that you want shared with the world?
Him: Oh yes, Journalist, I’ve got some exciting news for you. And this is it– I’m making- not one, not two, but five (my ears perked up at this…oh golly, this was interesting…five new movies… the guy sure was loaded)
Me: Wow, five new movies (I wet my lips with excitement. It would be fun, revealing this juicy bit of info to the world).
Him: Movies? Who said anything about movies? It is web series I’m talking about. I’m making five new web series for the internet! Isn’t that awesome news!
Me: Errr, web series? But you are the golden goose of Bollywood. You should be making movies, no? Web series is for hard-up newcomers, broke start-ups, wannabe film-makers and the like. Not for you, the malai of Bollywood.
Him: What did you call me? Malai? Goose?
Me: No, no. you heard me wrong. I called you golden boy.
Him: Hmmm, ok. See, web series is the latest fad to have hit Tinsel Town. Everybody who is somebody has his finger in the web pie.
No wonder, I thought. With so many fingers in it, this pie is turning into poop, faster than one can say ‘web series’.
Him: You know that Abir Khan?
Me: Yes, yes, of course I know him.
Him: His ‘Light Bulb’ flopped badly, you know. So now, he is making a web series. At least, he won’t lose pots of money that way.
Me: Oh, achha.
Him: And you know Mr Jay Lali Bansal?
Me: Of course, who doesn’t know him….
Him: Well, ever since his Karnavati was forced to be renamed as Karnavat, Jay has washed his hands off making any movie, at least for the next ten years. But yes, he’s got two web series in the making. No public ki kich-kich, no Sena after him now.
Him: And I’m sure you’ve heard of Tikram Hatt?
Me: Of course. The King of horror films, right?
Him: Right. He’s moved on to unleashing horror on the web now. No censors ka much-much, no cutting-shutting of scenes. Shoot what you want, show what you want– it’s all set!
Oh God, I though. Don’t let the web go the way of TV. But, I guess, that’s wishful thinking. Quantity over quality, that’s the tried and tested formula of the Indian entertainment industry. Can one expect the web to be any different, what with everyone jumping onto the bandwagon?
Me: Ok, Ok, I get the picture. And what storyline are you planning for your web series?
Him (excitedly): That’s the best part. My first web series is ekdum hat-ke. It’s called ‘Whose Button Is It Anyway’. Nice no?
Me: Yes, nice. But, button?
Him: Don’t interrupt. Ok, so my story is about three young Indians- Nirhardik Patel, Jignesh Mewa-de-ni and Gogo Kanhaiya. Each is in possession of a button, and each one thinks his button is the biggest.
Me: I think you’ve got that wrong. There are only two dudes showing off their buttons, and both aren’t Indian.
Him: Arey, you just listen. Don’t interrupt. So, all three have buttons- one has a caste button, one, a sect button, and the third has a religion button. When pressed, the buttons are powerful enough to destroy the country, mind you. There is also a Gappu, and a Nanamo in the story. How they set about destroying their enemies– the progressive civil society– and take India back to the fifteenth century, forms the crux of the story. Well, what do you think? How’s it?
Me: Errr, in my opinion, you should do what you’re good at- i.e. make movies. Make a magnum opus, a larger-than-life spectacle. I know- why don’t you make a historical?
Him: Historical! Are you out of your mind? Don’t you know, India is…..no country for historicals.
(Written By Rashmi Paharia)