There are certain horror movies where everything starts with an ominous phone call. Despite every nerve in your body screaming out to the protagonist to Not Pick Up, he or she invariably does, and then a long convoluted saga of ominous music and complicated shots of staircases follows till the screen goes blank again. Then you are, more often than not, left wondering at the mental faculties of the protagonist.
Why I am starting off this way is to declare my support for this little action of picking-up-when-you-shouldn’t as far as the telephone is concerned. There are times when you have to, and there are times when the results turn out far from expected, which is why horror movies find watchers – there are always people who do stupid things. They pick up ringing telephones and open rickety closets and spend nights in ramshackle villas. They must not be blamed, and I’ll tell you why.
I picked up a telephone call once that involved me being asked to do a play, and not being in possession of my senses (this could be due to the fact that it was the night before my Hindi board exam and I couldn’t find my textbook anywhere), I said that one awful phrase – Okay, sure. I then ran off to Kerala once the exams ended and forgot all about the play, but when I came back the script was still in full flow. I was to attend workshops at an unknown place, and most importantly, with unknown people.
Enter decisive moment number two. Protagonist can either choose to run away, hide and lead a normal, uneventful life, or protagonist (with the audience screaming No, you moron, NO!) can say, Okay sure, and go along.
I’m not much of a protagonist. I say Okay, sure too readily and too often.
So anyway, the place where Playhouse (student performance group in Kolkata, please note) workshops were taking place turned out to be scarily reminiscent of the bhoot bangla in Bhool Bhulaiya at first glance.Still I ploughed along. I grinned a lot, nervously, at people I didn’t know. I bumped into objects and chanted strange things and waved my hands in the air and came back home swearing I’d never go back. So what if it had a web page and a logo? All that limb-waving had to be a hoax. I wasn’t going back.
Then, of course, I went for the workshop again the following day.
The really bad part about this post is that I should be stopping right now. The horror movie veneer wears thin from here. The house turns out to be fascinating, its inhabitants turn out to be not-really-ogres, the rehearsals are blurs of energy and laughter, and the work is backbreaking but beautiful. When you’re doing a play that is directed, produced, designed and performed entirely by students, it’s a horror movie of a different sort. And it has a script that cannot be explained without referring to inside jokes and conspiracy theories, teatime breaks and moments of madness. Of course, if I try to explain all of that this might turn into a novel, and if I write some random cryptic sentences the only people who will get them are people who did the play. Which is why this is a bad post. That doesn’t mean I’m done writing it.
There were people I met who should never ever show their Playhouse sides to the rest of the world, especially to any agency associated with law and order. Some redefined insanity as a concept; others morphed into entire concepts of insanity themselves. There was a homicidal Doberman Pinscher that everyone lived in mortal dread of, which is probably why we agreed to spend all that time cooped up in the Rehearsal Room. There was also a niggling feeling in my head all along that reality shows have a purpose, after all. When you spend too much time with a bunch of strangers, you change in weird ways. You say different things and you react differently, and most importantly, you share a part of yourself with them that you normally wouldn’t let out to anyone or anything but a close-circuit camera.
My apologies to everyone as far as I am concerned in relation to the last sentence. You know I love you (which is basically a nice way of saying Let This Not Get Out, Please).
And now, to cut a long story short, the play (Boomerang, please note) did happen. The initial level of pointlessness which had convinced me of its hoax-like nature suddenly turned into three days of yells and colours and the kind of madness that only putting up a play can bring. And now that it’s over, I suddenly have a lot more time on my hands. Which is why I’m reblogging. But there are such things as hangovers, and for lack of other things to write about, here I am. I haven’t made much sense. I haven’t much sense anyway. All I have are too many things that I’d like to write about, but then that can wait for the novel I shall write someday, which will hopefully be more coherent.
And that, in short, is why horror movies don’t happen to me. The beginning is uncertain, the middle part is a vague flurry of things not quite taken in, and the ending is almost always the Okay, sure kind. Since this is my version of the story, I'm obviously the protagonist, except I'm very glad the horror movie happened. You may argue that picking up ringing telephones is still an act of extreme stupidity, but nothing to be done. I am very inadequate that way.