Several months ago, there was joyous dancing in the dark and lit streets of the United States of America. No, it was not because President Obama had just concluded a historic tour of India in which he had actually heard our Prime Minister mumble almost three whole words. (“Honey, that felt awesome but still not as good as when I heard Mr. MacMahon Sing say ‘Hello’,” Obama had confessed to wife Michelle after a particularly steamy roll in the White House bed). The celebrations were not even because the US Navy Seals had finally got Osama bin Laden hiding under Musharraf’s kitchen sink. Nor could the nicely resurgent stock markets explain the unabashed street euphoria. And while you may assume, and quite rightly so, that it was a great time to be born in the USA, what with rock-solid marriages like Sandra Bullock’s, wholesome children like Miley Cyrus, and iconic upright sportspersons like Tiger Woods, the real reason for the incredible mood was something else. The real reason for this all-pervasive mass jubilation was that America was finally about to conquer the last bastion of indomitable excellence – Bollywood. After all, their most iconic star was India-bound to break the biggest and only glass ceiling that really mattered – The First White American Hindi Film Hero.
“I will go to church to break my fast there for 21 consecutive Sundays if this comes true,” Hilary Clinton had declared, clearly siding with the belief that an American Hindi film hero was way more desirous than having a silly old woman as President. This mammoth dream was so imposing that not even Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. had dare dream it.
Sure there had been the occasional Tom or two in the past but they had hardly Altered the Hindi film landscape by their presence. There had also been the stray blond desi-foreigner (remember Karan Kapoor?) but they were hardly the real thing either. And the last ‘foreign’ Indian film Shalimar was so bad that even Ram Gopal Verma was not interested in going for a remake of it.
It was 2013 for goodness’ sake! Man had already landed on the moon and Woman at a Dior store in Delhi. These were supposed to be unthinkable fantasies only a few years ago. The time for making history was already upon us.
And so, with the hopes and aspirations of over 300 million Americans (and some 74% of them morbidly obese) resting on his broad shoulders, Bruce Springsteen showed up at the Hindi film location for his first Hindi film audition. The film was going to be based on his life story. It even had his moniker as its title. It was simply called – BOSS. After all, everyone the world over knew him as that.
Bruce was given the traditional Indian welcome of aarti and tilak and made to sit on a shaadi-wali plastic chair in a corner. His name on the seatback was misspelled in customary Indian fashion – Biru’s Springs Team – phonetics winning over any need to reference documentation for correct spellings. The setting was an actual village. There were cows roaming past. Happy children shat around a nearby drain. Bruce took photos of all this for his photoblog.
Momentarily, an Indian peasant, tall and imposing-looking, came and sat in the empty shaadi-wali plastic chair next to him.
“Who are you?” the gruff villager demanded.
“I am Bruce Springsteen,” Bruce answered extending his hand. “I am a singer, now aiming to be an actor,” he added helpfully, as the villager shook his hand smugly. If there was recognition, the man didn’t show it.
“You are here for the audition, too?” Bruce asked making polite conversation.
“For which part?”
“Yours,” came the pat answer.
The Boss was baffled. “The man is clearly delusional,” he thought to himself. Just then, the film’s director Anthony D’Souza joined him.
“Sar, any prollem finding locashen, Sar?” Anthony asked in his charming Malayali accent.
“None at all, thanks! But I am a bit surprised. I thought we were going to start the film by showing my early life – my humble beginnings in a small village in Indiana?”
“Very right, Sar, this is small village in India, na?”
“Oh, I think you misunderstood me! I meant…”
“Arrey, Sir,” interjected the tall rustic, “if the fillum is shot in abroad, only NRI audience will interast. And NRI audience only wants to see richness – like helicopter, like big foreign palace, like other CEO-type NRI. Like a Yash Chopra fillum. Even humble foreign village they are not interesting,” he continued. “They only want Landan. New Yark. Not village. Only desi audience wanting village.”
“Well, Sar, he tell totally correcta,” Anthony affirmed.
“Yeah, so ok, maybe we can show my earlier humble life for a few minutes and then quickly move to my successful life. We can show me doing huge shows in places like Central Park in New York, or the Wembley stadium in London.”
“Where item song you will show?” the peasant demanded. “In stadium?”
“Item song? What the hell is that?”
The two Indians looked at each other and shook their heads with a mixture of surprise and sadness.
“Sar, Item Song is very important part in film, Sar. Like, if Hindi film is womana, the Item Song is her 2-2 breasta. People are looking there only, Sar. What is womana without breasta, Sar?”
“What the fuck!”
“And where you will fight villain?” the peasant further asked. “You have bad man in your life story?”
“Yes, like Police Inspector who killed your Papa or Politician who destroyed your dhanda? Who you will kill in last reel?” persisted the rustic.
Bruce turned at the director looking quite alarmed.
“What the hell is the man saying? Do I have to kill someone in the film?”
“What to do, Sar. Hindi film, Sar. You are only Boss, but audience is King, Sar! They demanding killing.”
“So, basically, you are saying that my life story – called BOSS – must be filmed in an Indian village , must have an Item Song, and must have me killing some kind of a villain in the end of the film?”
“Very right, Sar! Box office superhit, Sar!”
“And Sar, can you drive car?”
“Drive a car? I am American, of course I can drive a car!”
“Means, drive and jump out of exploding car from 150 feets height, Sar?” Anthony explained.
The peasant looked at the director almost admonishingly. “But, Director Sir, that is so common now. You need something more dhamaak-e-daar! Like exploding trucks!” Then looking at Bruce, “You know truck driving?”
“What are you people?” The Boss said, his facial expressions teetering the fine line between incredulity and tears.
“It’s ok, Sar, it’s not only exploshuning and song singing. We will be comedy also!”
“Oh thank God!”
“Sar, you can slap peoples?”
“Slap people?!” the respite that Bruce had felt at the thought of doing comedy vanished immediately.
“Yes, Sar, we do comedy when hero slaps peoples. You will slap many, many peoples. Audience is laughing so much that eyes are leaking!”
“Oh dear Lord…”
“But, no fear, slapping is for bad men only,” the farmer tried to assuage The Boss whose face was ashen and eyes moist. “Girl no slapping.”
“Yes, Sar, girla you only eve teasing. But we not even calling eve teasing because firsta few times, girla verrry angry with hero. But latera, girla in hero’s lap. What is your Mrs. name, Saar? We give heroine same name,” Anthony added earnestly.
Bruce was pretty much speechless by this point. He stared at the two men but said nothing.
“Don’t worry about heroine, Sar. We get someone half from your aging! Just 2 songs and finnish. Whole story rotating around you only, Sar!”
That was about all that Bruce Springsteen was prepared to take. He slowly got up from the shaadi-wali plastic chair.
“I think I might have seemed overeager about this project. On second thoughts, I don’t think I am such a great fit for this film.”
“Oh no, Sar! Why saying so, Sar? It’s box office superhit, Sar!” said the distressed director.
“I think it’s the only wise decision. In fact, why don’t you take this villager to play Boss instead? I think he will be a much better fit!” said The Boss looking encouragingly at the peasant sitting next to him.
“Villager, Sar?” said the surprised director. “Oh no, Sar, that’s our 7th biggusst hero of Bollywooda, Sar, after Aamir Khan Sar, Salman Khan Sar, Shah Rukh Khan Sar, Ajay Devgan Sar, Hritik Roshan Sar and Ranbir Kapoor Sar. Meeting Akshay Kumar Sar, Sar!
Akshay Kumar extended his hand to The Boss again. The two had a firm handshake.
“But what will I do now without hero??” cried Anthony. He turned his gaze at Akshay and pleaded, “Will you be my Boss, Sar? I will change the entirea scripta to suit your need, Sar!”
“Fit hai, Boss!” Akshay said smilingly, not even taking a minute to consider the poor man’s request.
“What does that mean – ‘fit hai’?” Bruce asked enquiringly.
“It means 100 crores, Sar! I means audience throw coina at screena , Sar! Children singing film songa, Sar!”
“It means all that?”
“Yes, more or less, Sar!”
The Boss left India taking the next earliest flight out. He knew that he had dashed the hopes of millions in his country. He hoped that he had it in him to explain to his simple countryfolk why it wasn’t going to be so easy for an American to win an Oscar for a Bollywood movie anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Indians all over the world wait with bated breath for 7th biggest Bollywood hero Akshay Kumar’s latest 100-crore hit – BOSS! DO NOT MISS IT!
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme is SEVEN. This post is about my 7th most favourite actor in Bollywood, Akshay Kumar. I have watched his film Joker at least a 100 times in my head.