And he finally got the story he was looking for. Out of work after numerous failures, coupled with personal problems and alcoholism, he desperately wanted to come back to the industry. With a B-A-N-G. Even adding an extra A to improve his luck didn’t help. The inspiration came to him when he was watching Mario Bava’s El Diablo Se lleva A Los Muertos: why can’t he make a similar story? Throw in some songs and romantic digressions and you get the next film. It was also a return to his roots, for his first film was a ghost story, with a plot twist so famous it still continues to haunt him.
But, how could he make his upcoming film great? He had to use his connections to have a budget of 5 crores, a far cry from the ones he used to have in his heydays. Established actors (even the ones he had introduced to the big screen) had rejected his offer to star in his flick. Somehow, he managed to get an upcoming actor to star as his “Hari”. But, getting an actress is tough, considering the hullabaloo that happened while he was under influence in the sets of Bambai a few years back. There was only one way left now: conduct auditions.
“It’s over. It’s over. You know what? I’m getting out of here.”
Kumaar left the Andheri office of Karma Productions shouting with all his voice.
“Sir, coffee?”, a staff member handed him a cup.
The audition was a disaster. The character has got both brains and looks. All those who came in today were wastes. Some had impeccable dialogue delivery but lack looks and some look hot but don’t know the ABCD of acting. The majority who came for the audition had caught his legs, pleading that they were the next big thing in the industry. How was he supposed to make Haveli with these people?
He threw his coffee cup in the bin and walked towards his car.
“Did I ask them to do chores? No, just a few lines. Those idiots couldn’t even say Hari’s and Kamini’s meeting was because of luck, but due to their fate. What should I exchange in return for getting the actress?”
He stopped talking to himself as he reached SUV — this was the love of his life after his wife left him. He drove home, so exhausted by the audition that he couldn’t focus on driving. He was mentally reading the first draft and was startled when a hitchhiker asked for a lift under a lamp-post.
“Assholes, these people will rob you while pretending that — wait, is that a girl?” A few seconds later, she found herself sitting in Kumaar’s car.
“Isla”, she introduced herself. A little bit too much make-up, Kumaar thought, but she made up for that with her demeanor. She talked effortlessly. But more importantly, for Kumaar, she was a good listener too. He was surprised learning that he could amuse her — something his critics say he’d lost. They discussed everything under the sun and didn’t feel that now it was midnight.
Finally Kumaar said, “I forgot to ask you an important question, my fair lady.”
“What is it? My name?”
“No, where should I drop you??”
After thinking for some time, she replied with a grin, “Maybe…. Your house?”
That was the moment he had been waiting for. They drove the remaining distance in silence.
When they reached the house, he jumped out from his seat, went to the other side and opened the door for her. She followed to the doorstep, while he was trying to open the door in dark. After she entered, he ensured that the door was locked. When he switched on the tubelight, it was flickering. On normal circumstances, he would have replaced it immediately, but now wasn’t the time to care for these trivial things. She looked beautiful in the flickering light. This is the big moment.
He checked his breath and walked towards her, thinking of what he should say. He settled with something straightforward. Though his hands were shaky, he somehow managed to place his hands on her shoulder and said, “That’s the bedroom. You know what do next.”
“Tum mujhe is tarah se pyaar kyon nahin karte?”, she replied, in a changed voice.
She turned towards him. Suddenly, blood started to ooze from her eyes, ear and mouth. Her skin starts peeling off and face was looking like it was bubbling. The eyes glowed in the darkness and patches started to appear in the body.
A burst of laughter filled the room, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA- Eh? SI-”
“Maya, it’s better that you tell the truth”, Inspector Yeldho said, standing near the window checking for the source of the noise.
But Maya preferred to finish her coffee than speaking out. So, Inspector continued, “By the time, he was admitted to the hospital, he had died due to heart attack. And you looked weird. We had found out documents saying you are Isla from your bag, though we know that your name is Maya, an ex-accountant — by the way, your name fits the scenario. We also have witnesses stating that you and someone else, presumably your accomplice, were seen near his house earlier that day. I have never seen you in my circle. So, what do you have to say?”
She put down the glass and asked, “Do you watch international movies?”
He was taken aback. “Sorry?”
“What is your opinion on Stanislavski’s system?”
“Have you seen Daniel-Day Lewis’ performances?”
He wondered why were these lines familiar to him. “Get to the point.”
“What you said is true, my name is Maya. I had quit my job and came to Mumbai in the hopes of becoming an actor. Even after 2 years, I haven’t got a role in movies. When I came to know of auditions for Kumaar sir’s Haveli, I was determined to get a role; otherwise, I’ll be forced to marry someone of my parent’s wish. The story is about Hari whose life changes after he stays at his girlfriend Kamini’s family castle. The audition was for Kamini’s role. And we were supposed to say these lines:
“ ‘Kya tumhein lagta hai ki hamari mulaqat bas ek ittefaq thi? Nahi. Yeh hamari muqaddar hai, Hari-oh Shankar. Yeh, kismat se bhag jaana, jaane ko anjaana dikhana, isse kya mila tumhe? Tum mujhe is tarah se pyaar kyon nahin karte?’
“With the help of my friend, who is also a budding make-up artist, I decided to transform myself into Kamini. She helped me with the make-up and prosthetics, which concealed all the fake blood squib, etc. She called me as soon as Kumaar sir left and then I waited for him on the road leading to his house. To top it all off, I used a fake name Isla, which is an anagram of Lisa, the protagonist of the original movie. As expected, he flirted with me and drove us home. As soon as he touched me, I decided to use the effects which made me look like Kamini and deliver the lines. I thought he would like my acting and offer me the role. I never knew he had heart disease and that excessive shock might lead to his death. Mid-way through my delivery, he dropped dead. I wanted to make a killing in the audition but I never thought I would be involved in a killing in real life.”
“Haha, nice one. But do you know what’s funny? These these..er, lines came true. You know, you meeting him, ‘loving’, death in a Haveli and all..”
“I don’t find anything funny in it”, she replied.
“Aaram pattuka? Eh? Never mind.”
“Sir, what’s the next step?”
“Hmm. I might charge IPC Section 304A in the FIR, 2 years imprisonment with fine. We will be going for sightseeing — your house, his house, court. You can easily get out if you have a good lawyer. Try to cash in the media attention, you might get a few roles. Though unintended, you kinda killed another criminal. You need to see his records — has got everything from shoplifting to domestic violence and sexual harassment.”
After some silence, Yeldho continued, “What I don’t understand is why couldn’t you prove your mettle in the real Audition, rather than resorting to these…., er, theatrics and drama?”
“Me auditioning with those people? No, no. I’ve heard that he is very angry. If someone acts bad and his mood changes my chance would be ruined. So, it’s better to act without them and I thought I would take out my method acting skills. Also, isn’t it said that the first impression is the best impression?”
“True. But, in your case, your first impression was his last”, chuckled the Inspector. But his joke was met with silence.
In the moments before his death, Kumaar answered his question of what should he exchange in return for getting the actress. His life.
A film director
who wants to make a killing
by selecting an actress,
tries to get laid by an actress
who kills him
for a role in the film.
I am scared of scary stories (probably, the only ghost film I’ve seen without nightmares and blackouts might be Manichitrathazhu.) But my test audience loved horror. So, I went through a lot of scary movies and King stories to come up with plots. This particular story is inspired by Jiji Philip’s ‘Ghostly Audition’. My story had a mixed response (which is great, considering that they hated my other non-horror stories). This story, in turn, inspired stories created by my friends. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of numerous similarly themed horror stories made to satisfy my audience. In another creative misfire, I had made a sequel named Saaya (perhaps, the only sequel that I created). I had abandoned this idea after the ludicrous (even by my standards) plot. The original story ends with The Director (in all my stories, character names are chosen by the audience, so the names differ in each version) dying and sequel picks up the story from here. The third act of Audition is in fact the second act of Saaya. Even this Redux version had similar reactions has the original story; nothing more, nothing less. SORRY FOR THE CRINGY DIALOUGES.