Short Stories

The Best Role of a Lifetime

The Best Role of a Lifetime

‘When will you play the role of a husband in reality? Or you want to simply waste your life like this?’ Ramola Bose asks her son the question which she repeats often after attending any wedding. Tonight, they are returning from Rajdip’s co-actor’s wedding reception.
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‘Be happy that I am only wasting my life at present. Marriage means I won’t have any life at all,’ Rajdip smirks keeping his eyes on the iPhone. One of his fan accounts in Instagram has posted a recent still from his upcoming movie.

The presence of Suravi Roy, Hindi film industry’s renowned actress has brought the movie in the limelight throughout the country. However, Rajdip was confident about it right from the start, so what if it’s a regional movie. Language doesn’t matter. Audience wants to see one thing in a movie – content. And this one scores cent percent in this category. The movie’s trailer has already gained millions of views. For Rajdip, it is the best role he has played on screen so far.

‘I am serious, Raj,’ Ramola says. ‘You are thirty four and it’s high time for you to think about marriage.’

‘Mum, marriage will happen when it has to happen.’



Rajdip always dodges the topic of marriage with some excuse or another. There have been times, when Ramola was secretly scared about her son’s sexuality. Her fears dissolved when Rajdip got engaged with Shinjini. But they broke up after an year. Reason? Compatibility issues.

Ramola too is an established actress. As a matter of fact, when she and Aniruddha got married, Ramola was at the peak of her acting career. But her profession never came in between their relationship. Till date, they always manage time for each other from their busy schedule. Where there is a will, there is a way. But this generation? One small issue and they cut all ties. Ramola sometimes wonders whether Rajdip is still in love with Shinjini. If that is the case, then why doesn’t he try to patch up with her? What’s the problem? Ramola sighs and looks into the dark night prevailing outside the Audi’s window.

******

‘What a relief !’ Debayan Chatterjee sips some champagne, leans back on the sofa and closes his eyes in peace. His movie has been a major hit of the year. Critics are talking highly about his work. The box office collections speak a thousand words. He couldn’t have asked for more from his directorial debut.

‘All your hard work has paid off, Debayan,’ Rajdip smiles. ‘Entire industry has poured in today’s success bash.’

‘My hard work?What are you saying,Raj?’ says Debayan. ‘I am here today due to the entire team’s hard work. Especially you and Suravi’s. Without you two, this movie would have been difficult to make. Who believes in a new director after all? Thank you.’ He raises his champagne glass.

‘C’mon, Debayan. I should thank you for giving me this role. It feels wonderful to be back in Bengali cinema after almost a decade,’ Suravi says.

‘Don’t thank me. I was rather apprehensive of approaching you. Rajdip was the one who assured me you are perfect for the role. Moreover, audience have always loved both of your on-screen chemistry.’

Suravi gives an appreciating smile to her colleague. Rajdip’s expressionless face however cuts Suravi into pieces and she decides to concentrate on her champagne. Self-respect is more important to her.

‘I heard that you received a web series offer from Netflix?’ Rajdip changes the topic.

‘Nothing is confirmed. You know this business. Moreover, they are telling me to…..’ Debayan looks back after someone calls his name. It’s almost midnight and the guests have started departing.

‘Excuse me guys. I need to have a word with Ashok,’ Debayan gets up from the sofa and rushes towards Ashok Agarwal, one of the sponsoring partners of their movie. This bald fat guy has a reputation of being a Casanova. Suravi shifts her eyes towards the swimming pool on the other side of the balcony. The hotel, which was full of music and high profile guests even half an hour ago, has become so quiet now.

Rajdip gets up from the chair and stands leaning on one of the pillars in the balcony. Rajdip and Surabhi could sequester themselves behind Debayan’s presence so far. Now they don’t know what to do to remove this awkward silence.

‘When are you going back to Mumbai?’ he breaks the ice.

‘Tomorrow.’ She replies. ‘Evening flight. Need to rush for an outdoor shooting day after tomorrow.’

‘Hmm….always so busy in work. A famous heroine after all. ‘

The hidden taunt in his tone does not miss Suravi. ‘What is your problem, Rajdip?’ Suravi snaps at him. ‘From day one of the shooting, I have noticed that you are not talking to me properly.’

‘That’s your imagination. And moreover, I don’t have anything to tell you.

‘Yeah. Right. What can you say to someone like me?’ Suravi becomes silent.

This is not the same Rajdip she met ten years back. It was her debut movie in Bengali cinema. Rajdip was already a huge movie star then, but he had a personality which was rare in people who belong to this profession. Be his co-actor or a spot boy, he could make anyone feel at ease with him because of his humble nature. Suravi never felt like a newcomer in front of him. Like a guardian angel, he always ensured she is comfortable on sets, even during filming those intimate scenes. They became good friends in short time.

‘Emotional drama suits you better on screen,’ Rajdip’s heated voice brings Suravi to present. Just look at the way he is talking now ! All the while they were shooting six months ago, Rajdip behaved as if she is a stranger.He came on sets, finished his work and went back. And now after the movie’s success bash, Suravi is discovering that Rajdip suggested her name to Debayan for this role. Seriously. She can’t figure out men anymore.But she won’t spare him today.

‘You can’t talk to me like that, Rajdip.’

He takes some time to cool down and says, ‘I am sorry.’

Suravi’s is no longer in mood to talk to this man. What does he think of himself?

Rajdip sits on the sofa. Opposite to him, there is a person who has stolen and broken his heart many times in past.The first day he saw Suravi years back, he couldn’t take his eyes off from her. Beautiful, talented, intelligent yet so simple. By the time their film was over, he was head over heels in love with her. Rajdip was not sure about her feelings though. Then one fine morning, he learnt she had shifted to Mumbai. Anyway, Suravi deserved a brighter future. But what irked him was that she didn’t feel it necessary to inform Rajdip once. If nothing else, then at least they shared a good bond with each other. Having said that, why was he surprised? Fame can easily make people insensible and selfish.

He holds her hands and apologises again.’Hey, I am really sorry. I have no right to talk like this to you.’

‘You have every right to do so. I love you, Raj,’ Suravi blurts out. She can’t take it anymore.A six feet tall toned body, deep baritone, Greek God features, superb acting skills and above all, no scandals. Simply a true gentleman. Did she ever met anyone like him in her life?How could Suravi not fall deeply in love with him? Was she any different from all the women who wanted him? And God knows why, Suravi started believing Rajdip loved her too.

However, Rajdip is taken aback by Suravi’s declaration. After all these years, her words sound too good to be true. He walks away from her and says in a calm voice, ‘You are lying.’
‘What makes you think this way?’ Saravi says.

‘Then why did you leave Kolkata without informing me anything?’

‘Are we living in 40s? You could easily give me a phone call. Right?’ Suravi complaints like a child.

‘Nobody mattered to you more than yourself. You even said no to Abhiroop. Then why should I call you? ‘

Suravi was trying for a break in Hindi film industry those days when the news reached her. Rajdip and Shinjini were seeing each other. At first, she thought it was just a rumour. Whatever little she knew about Shinjini, she was not someone who could be compatible with Rajdip. Having said that, this was the first time Rajdip was linked to someone. She called Abhiroop, her first film’s director and tried to ask him casually about the affair.

‘Yes, it’s true. They are dating,’ Abhiroop continued. ‘Suravi, I want you to look at the script which I was discussing with Raj also two days back. Audience will love to see both of you on-screen together again. Can you come down to Kolkata next week?’

Suravi somehow managed her voice from breaking down and declined Abhiroop’s offer. She didn’t want to go back to Kolkata. How silly of her to think that Rajdip liked her ! Who was Suravi ? There was no comparison between a nobody like her and Shinjini, the diva. Rajdip and Shinjini got engaged few weeks later.

‘Anyway, how does it matter to you?Starting from career to relationships, you have a habit of rushing into things.’ Rajdip murmurs standing far away from Suravi. His charismatic persona shines in the soft moonlit night.

Yes. Rajdip is right. Apart from gaining fame by playing one difficult role after another in movies, winning three National awards, Suravi also had one divorce, and two ugly break ups.

‘I was not on top of the world. Believe me,’ Suravi doesn’t want to remember those hard times. Her unconscious mind always searched for her first love in all her relationships. When Debayan offered her the movie, she wasted no time to grab the opportunity. She couldn’t restrain herself from having one more chance of working with Rajdip. So what if she couldn’t have him in her life.

‘Yeah,I could sense that,’ Rajdip shrugs his shoulder. ‘You made a big mistake by marrying that womaniser NRI. And those two morons….I mean are you aware that it needs immense talent for someone to repeat the same mistake thrice, Suravi?’ He laughs which is enough to provoke Suravi. She leaves her seat and stands in front of him.

‘You were no wise either. You brought that dumb Shinjini in your life. How intelligent of you!’ Suravi can’t believe her own ears. How could she speak to him like that? Nobody dares talking to Rajdip Bose in this manner.

Rajdip looks at her and replies, ‘Shinjini was not dumb…..it was me who showed stupidity. I was trying to get over you…but… couldn’t. Shinjini could never take the place that you had in my heart. I have not met any woman more amazing than you, Suravi.’

There is a split second’s silence and then she hears the deep muscular voice saying, ‘I love you too, Suravi.’

How many times did Suravi dream of such an encounter with Rajdip? Dreams do come true then. She feels shy all of a sudden.

‘Really? Had you said those words earlier, you could have saved me a lot of pain and tears.’

‘Only if I knew that you loved me too,’ he comes closer to Suravi.

‘I couldn’t tell you anything. I was scared. Don’t ask me why.’

‘I will ask you just one question.’

‘What?’ says Suravi.

‘Will you marry me?Please,’ Rajdip takes her face into his hands. ‘I have been waiting only for you all these years.’

Suravi touches his lips passionately with hers and says, ‘Hope you have got your answer.’

‘Couldn’t have asked for more,’ Rajdip smiles as he pulls her into his arms. Suravi blushes in his embrace as they gear themselves up to play the best role of their lifetime.

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