Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Radical

Kaushik knocked, entered his boss’s cabin and made his way to the plush sofa in the corner.

“You wanted to talk to me Saurabh?”

Saurabh, a genial middle aged man who was beginning to discover the discomforts of a rapidly growing paunch and graying facial hair, turned towards him.

“Yes. Just give me a minute here.”

Kaushik waited. He thought he knew what this was going to be about and was prepared for it. He had been working with the guy for nearly a year. In all that time, he had hardly been any good use to his boss or the organization in general. Both knew this. In the beginning, they had tried hard to meet each others’ expectation of work and working styles. In a few months, they were doing their best to not get in each others’ way, comfortable in their independent existences.

While that hadn’t affected Saurabh too badly for he had other people to work with, Kaushik had grown increasingly disenchanted.

“Yes, so”, Saurabh said, turning to Kaushik again. Kaushik looked up from the magazine he was reading.

“The film seems to be doing alright.”

“Yes, looks like. Congratulations for managing its promotion so well. The film itself was good too, I guess”


Saurabh nodded his head, unsure how to continue.

“I, sort of, had something to discuss with you Kaushik”

“Before that, I have something to tell you”

“Alright, go on”

“I am quitting”

Saurabh stared at him intently.

“You are? That’s a, well, surprise”

Kaushik shrugged.

“You have found another job then?”

“No. I will look for one now”


That evening, he went to the pictures with Ritankar and Ashish. He told them afterwards during dinner. They did not comment. Just nodded and concentrated on the food. He had of course hinted at this for some time now. That didn’t mean they had believed him but now that he had done it, they couldn’t very well act shocked.

“You should’ve held out for a bit dude. There aren’t many jobs around at the moment…”

“We’ll see. The worst that can happen is I spend the next few months without work. Eventually, something has to come up. Obviously, I am not going to starve to death.”

“Of course”

“So anyway, now that I have some free time, I was wondering if a trip to Europe makes sense”

“A trip to Europe? Now? What about money?”

“I checked my accounts. I have enough for a two-three week trip and to get by for a few months after that”


“Well then, you two care to join me?”

Ashish would not. Ritankar would. A month of planning and paperwork later, they would be on their way.

Later that night, he lay in bed and reflected on the day. The next day in office would be marvelous. He imagined people cowering inside their cabins when he walked in. He would amble around like he owned the place and nobody could touch him. Their powers over him wouldn’t mean a thing anymore. He also thought about how he should set about getting out of the potential mess that he had maneuvered himself into. He had often discussed with Ritankar and Ashish how one day they’d have to do something like this if they were indeed serious about their aspirations of making films and authoring novels. He had taken the first step now.

The next day, he talked to Kartik. Kartik had worked as a scriptwriter in his office. The two had become good friends, instantly picking each other out for their common interests in film and its making. He was a heavyset dark man with curly hair and a loud voice. None of his scripts had ever been made into films by the company. Exasperated, he too had quit recently.

“Damn man! You quit too! Who’s going to sponsor all the booze now?”

“We still have Ritankar.”

“Anyway, let’s discuss this over drinks at Pop Tates tonight?”

“Sure, let’s.”

Pop Tates, in Andheri - a wealthy Mumbai suburb, is a popular hangout during the last days of a month for boys and girls with rich dads, when their allowances begin to run out. Off late though, it is increasingly flocked by members of the earning upper middle class in search of high life. The bar, noisy and claustrophobic, is tucked into one corner of a busy street. The noise of automobiles from the street mingles with those from the loudspeakers. In the midst of all of this, people sit at tables and have intimate conversations at the top of their voices. The draught beer is excellent.

“So, you want to assist a director now?”

“Yes, if I can. I understand you know a few. You should get me in touch with them”

Kartik nodded.

“I can do that. But really, assisting a director? Fuck man! What will we do if IIM grads start getting into all this shit? “

“If I am to make films, do I have an option?”

“You know, assisting a director’s not a permanent job. When a project ends, you got to search for another. And even on a project, you get barely 20K a month…that must be peanuts for you. Can’t even imagine how much you get paid…used to, in that shithole”

“We’ll see.”

A month later, the trip to Europe happened. When he returned, Kartik introduced him to a few important men in the film industry, acquaintances of his. Kaushik spoke to them with interest but found himself unable to discuss opportunities to work with them. All the while, he continued to consume dozens of films and literature a week, unoccupied as he was throughout the day. He wrote several scripts, even novels, in his head and made a few entries in his blog.

By the time he found another job, one that paid as much as the one before, half a year had gone. In all this time, he realized how comfortable he was with a life like this. If the money didn’t run out, he could live like this forever.

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