The phone rang. The party at the other end said something about him being a film producer looking for a film hero for his forthcoming venture. Thinking there was a misunderstanding, I was about to hang up, when he pleased with me to continue. He explained that he had a revolutionary new story, which required the hero to be 80 years old! A distant cousin had recommended me as he felt the role would suit me to a T.
Being asked to be a hero at my age of 84 and that too with no previous experience – not even as an extra – flattered my ego no end. He then asked for an appointment for the next day, when he could read my the script and we could discuss the terms and of course, introduce the heroine to me! Not able to resist the temptation, I asked him who he had in mind and how old she was. His reply had me almost salivating – a newcomer, also of 18! I immediately confirmed the proposed appointment.
I couldn’t sleep that night, fantasising about the film, its story and heroine – in reverse order! I considered practising a few somersaults just to convince myself of my fitness and manly abilities, but saner counsel prevailed and I refrained from trying such antics, lest a sprained muscle or torn ligament prevent me from my dream debut as Bollywood hero.
The next day, with a silent, secret prayer to Kamadev – the Hindu god of erotica -I slipped out of the house. In the taxi, shifting nervously, I could sense a sly, knowing smile on the driver’s face. I thought it to be because he recognised me as the next superhero who, once having made it, he’d boast about having driven him! Anyway, we reached the hotel without incident and my talks with the producer began.
If you know of Indian films, it is a ‘mandatory’ to have a song and dance routine with he hero and heroine chasing each other through field or something similar. When I told the producer of my physical limitations, he had a quick solution – the junior artistes would carry me as I ran after her! Great! Maybe this one breakthroughs idea would change the face of Bollywood forever! Maybe, as an exception, Hollywood would get inspired too. I asked him to copyright his idea.
Even as I agreed to this suggestion, I very categorically told him that none of those guys would replace me in the romantic scenes as I was perfectly capable. The producer readily agreed. We moved on to the lovemaking part and clearing my throat, I causally enquired about the heroine (of course, in reality, I was only too keen to meet her! Quite natural, don’t you think?). Oh, she will be here soon, is what I was told and the talks went on.
Mr Producer started explaining a scene in which the hero – me – holds the heroine in a tight embrace and they lock lips. I was smacking my lips in anticipation, when suddenly an attendant announced the arrival of the heroine. My heartbeats galloped, my BP rose and my eyes were riveted to the door. And then she entered.
My jaw dropped, my heart sank in total disbelief, because standing there was not a damsel of 18, but a hag of 80 – toothless and without dentures! Ugh! I gathered my wits and confronted the producer, asking him why he cheated me.
Cool as a cucumber, he calmly told me, “Uncle, you’d better wear your hearing aid more regularly. I said 80, not 18!” My ego was totally deflated, my enthusiasm gone.
Meanwhile, the lady (witch?) was also looking around for something or someone. It was her turn to ask the producer where the hero was. When he [pointed to me, it was her turn to swoon in shock! What a coincidence that she too had hearing problems! She had expected an 18 year old stud who would carry her in his strong arms, cooing in her ears! And so, she stormed out of the room without even making eye contact with me – forget any physical contact!
With that, all my dreams about being an overnight sensation vaporised into thin air. Crestfallen, this would-be hero returned home to reality. My wife answered the door and casually asked, “So my hero, did you land the role?” I was aghast! Yes, it was a ruse with that rascal of my distant cousin and had executed it to perfection – when else, but on All Fool’s Day!