she rolled down the tinted glass of her Morris Minor car, she could
see far from the flyover that the Metro was all decked up like a
bride. Ribbons of flashing lights crisscrossed its art deco facades;
there was a big crowd waiting for the stars to arrive. Waiting for
her. She felt the slight chill in the December night. She rolled
the glass up and rubbed the sides of her arms with her delicate
“How much time it
will take more to reach Metro?” she enquired in a little fussy tone.
“Ten minutes more Memsaab,” driver turned back and replied in his
dry tone. “Still ten minutes are there…” she glanced at her golden
Rolex watch and raised her eyebrows, “Shankar, go to the Gateway,”
she ordered her driver. A superstar with four diamond jubilees in
a row could afford to keep the crowd and co-stars waiting.
Shanker nodded and
sped the car towards the gateway. Her sweet affair with destiny
was at its peak. Today, it was the premier of her tenth movie. This
star-studded Premier was held at swanky Metro theatre in Bombay
and she was the biggest star-attraction of the night. After all,
the movie premier is the sole occasion when a common man had the
chance to catch a glimpse of his/her favorite stars.
Darling of the
crowds was about to reach. As she began to walk the red carpet
from entry to red lounge with a thoughtful look on her face,
the cameras flashed hundred times with media and fans almost
falling for her. She glanced around, then her eyes grew wide
and she tugged excitedly at her long glittering saree’s pallu.
She entered the theater lobby without even giving a look or
waving hand towards the crowd. A huge superstar, she was not
the heartthrob of the nation just for nothing. Her ‘number-one
actress’ status was strengthened with four continuous blockbusters
and in this woman-oriented film titled ‘Aurat’; she played
a pivotal role, where she showed her talent in different shadows
of a daughter, lover, estranged wife and then a secluded mother.
In short, a Tale of Sacrifice. The role was specifically written
for her. What an actress could ask for more in a male-dominating
Market aa gayee,” the taxi-driver’s flat voice combined with sudden
break on speed brought her back to the moment. “Ohh…” She said in
her trembling aged voice. Her two yellowish eyes behind a pair of
wire-rimmed junked frame looked at the side-mirror of the taxi and
went back into shell once more. Her long wet hair fell on her back.
She had wrapped a green-colored scarf around her neck. “How much?”
she asked in mild voice gradually opening the door. “Seventy five
Memsaab,” driver replied. She fished out an old-fashioned polyester
purse from underneath her shawl and took out a badly crumpled hundred
“Take it,” she handed
over the note with shaking hands. The driver gave her back twenty
five rupees change. For a moment, she was about to say, ‘keep the
change,’ but constant curse of cash-crunch ran through her mind,
which made her gripped the change in hands tightly. She sighed,
almost too quietly even for her to hear. Her face twisted in a rictus
of pain. She twiddled her fingers and looked around for a while.
The Crawford market, situated just opposite to the Mumbai Police
Headquarters, was as usual bursting with typical Bombayish excitement.
A wholesale market
for fruits, vegetables and poultry, its beautiful Gothic architecture
with heavy Indian influence makes it one of the most beautiful commercial
places to shop and sight seeing. Nothing had changed except the
time. And probably, that was the biggest change for her. For her,
nothing was same. The place was busier than she remembered it, and,
she thought, if she closed her eyes, she could still hear the fans’
requests for autographs, photos with lots of love.
She hugged a large
package under her shawl, and shivered a little at the beginning
of her walk. The market was flooded with Harry Potter’s posters.
Pottermania had hooked the entire country. A big crowd of children,
dressed in “Harry Potter” T-shirts were gathered in front of a book
store waiting for their hero’s new book.
Amidst the giggling schoolgirls and other teenagers, she walked
past seeing nothing other than emptiness and moved ahead completely
unnoticed towards a chemist shop. The wind whistled through her
ears demonstrating its arrogance. Her gentle steps echoed a pained
expression on her face taking her back to 70 mm ‘B & W’ era.………..
She was paid more
than many of the leading men of her time much to their chagrin.
Her first movie, Tapasya, was a resounding success. The big banners
vied for her, as her mere presence guaranteed a gala opening. Her
beauty and spell bounding performances mesmerized the audiences.
In the movie Pavitra, she played a young widow, while in Insaaf,
she essayed the role of a courageous rape victim. She would play
a chaste girl in one movie and at the same time a whore in another.
Her meteoric rise
was more than just phenomena. She reigned amidst glory and fame
as the glamorous siren and dancing queen of the late 1960s and early
1970s. Her unique style of acting became a signature, as did her
quivering lips and emotion-laden voice. She won two national awards
besides three consecutive FilmFare awards in a row for best actress.