I was sitting by my desk listening to the chit-chat of my colleagues. I had been newly recruited and was trying to fit in with them. I was listening to this particular colleague of mine, Priya, who was parodying the mannerism of our creative head. I was bored. So I began toying with the mouse of my system when I saw that a mail from our creative head had just arrived. The mail read:
All the three subordinates are expected to report in the conference room to brainstorm on the ways in which we would go about making the two leads in the serial meet. We will discuss the possible options and ways in which we can align it with the main story.
I immediately reached the conference room, excited about my first proper meeting. The other two subordinates- Priya and Rashmi-decided to visit the rest room first.
Actually one of our many serials had recently gone on air. Within the larger plot there was this small subplot showing the romantic chemistry between the two leads. The problem was that since there were so many of our serials on air we had to come up with ready-made quick situations to make it look convincing and real between the two without making too many efforts. Here in India, because it really doesn’t matter how many episodes it takes, so that wasn’t our concern at all. Some serials, as you know, manage to run even after completing few thousand episodes. We had all the luxury to work with the idea ad improvise on it.
Priya and Rashmi were talking about their respective boyfriends when Jayati entered the room. We immediately sat to discuss.
Priya: My idea is doing it through a tattoo.
Jayati: (mockingly as she kept looking at her mobile screen) Tattoo? ( After a few seconds of silence)Hmm. Go on.
I liked Jayati’s expression because it echoed mine. The idea wasn’t even worth listening to, I thought.
Priya looked at Rashmi as she began elaborating.
Joy Kapoor (our male lead in the serial) will spot a tattoo drawn on the back of Riya (our female lead) and be intrigued by it.
Jayati: What for?
Exactly! What for? Tattoos are so clichéd, I thought.
I had this shocked expression of disbelief on my face.
Priya: There’s the catch ma’am. When he sees the tattoo for the first time he will feel some sort of familiarity with it?
Jayati lowered her glasses and looked at Priya intently as if trying to read her expression or her next thought, but she didnot interrupt this time. She had an approving smile on her face which was so unlike the expression on my face. But, Priya was facing Jayati, so she continued after a number of seconds she thought would be enough to let the idea sink in among her audience. She continued:
“He will wonder, ‘he had seen that tattoo before! If only he/she could remember where.’ And after a couple of episodes it will come up that it is the same tattoo which he had always seen in his dreams, say, since his childhood. We can invest good number of episodes in showing this process of realization.”
Jayati had this “wow” expression on her face now which probably encouraged Rashmi to chip in. She started, “And later, we can develop the plot in such a way that it would seem that they are connected by their past lives giving a supernatural dimension. Later we will decide if we want to extend this supernatural element. As if their love is greater than time, life and death. A connecting thread as if nothing can separate them. Eternal love.” The conviction in her voice kept soaring with each word. Clearly the two had discussed the idea beforehand.
She would have gone on describing the magnificence of the idea when Jayati interrupted with a hint of triumph in her tone:”Quite convincing that is.”
I was sure that this was Priya’s idea. Only the other day, as I passed her desk I heard her telling her boyfriend in a very authentic dramatic tone, “Baby, I love you very very much. You make me fall in love with you again and again. I want to stay with you forever and after. You know what, I was thinking that we get a permanent tattoo on ourselves so that in our next birth we can spot each other, recognise and fall in love immediately without wasting even a second.”
I am not sure how the boyfriend must have reacted. But, I had this pukish expression on my face. What a fool, man! I don’t know if this was meant to be fugurative or literal but it was such an outrageous idea. May be she was just too love -stricken, I consoled myself. As if the tattoo was going to survive even after their death when their bodies are buried or burnt!
I sensed that our discussion was nearing an end. Jayati seemed to have found the idea favourable. But Rashmi ignoring all that continued with pride: “You know, this will show that we are a part of the tradition. Trying to pay our little tribute to Bollywood. The audience will immediately connect to it.”
“But, isn’t it that it is always the mother and the lost son or lost brothers who meet this way?” I raised my problem. I just couldn’t swallow any more.
“Yes,” Jayati ventured this time in defence ” but, this is the twist we are offering. Of course we can’t blindly copy the trope. There is somethig called innovation if they ever taught you that in your media school, Surbhi.”
As soon as I was snubbed this way Priya started off ignoring my discomfort, “In fact I just realized what a brilliant idea this is! Imagine, if later we have to show that this is not the right woman for Joy, we just need to show that the tattoo was temporary by showing that it gets washed away one fine morning.”
“Excellent! Start working on it Priya and Rashmi. What would have we done without the two of you.” Jayati lauded them as she rose from her chair to leave.
Before leaving the room she turned and looked at me with mild disgust and said,” I hope you will catch up soon with them in terms of creativity. And yes, Priya, place the tattoo on wrist or hand or somewhere. Back is too sensuous a place for our audience, you see. An ideal woman in Indian society is not supposed to expose her back.”
No I didn’t faint. I just resigned. Not from life of course!