Sahruda watched him leave with her eyes wide shut. This was not the kind of ending that she had envisaged. If she loved him, she had to learn to let go. Besides, you do the right thing because it´s the right thing.
Sahruda remembered the first time she met Naveen at the theatre. She was at the helm of the casting team. Being a writer, she had a critical eye in finding the right fit for the character. There was just one character to be ticked off the list before she could bring the curtains to a close on the casting call.
After several rounds of auditions, she was getting frustrated. There were shortlisted actors who were technically good, highly experienced and hugely popular. But, they missed the mark when it came to playing the male lead in her most ambitious project.
Naveen walked in the final day of the auditions. Sahruda followed every inch of his body closely. He was on the shorter side for a male actor, too fair for the character and had no experience in acting before.
“ Okay! So, we´ve watched your audition and it´s better than what we expected. But, you don´t have the conventional good looks of a hero that we are looking for. What makes you think that you are the best bet for the role of Karan Kapoor?”
Naveen removed his shirt to reveal a perfectly sculpted six-pack body before going down on his fours. He prowled towards the judge´s table while strutting his masculine gait and inching closer to to Sahruda. He scooped her in his arms before making her surrender into a long drawn wild passionate kiss. When he put her back onto her chair, S was gasping on the table, her lips quivering for more.
The unconventional answer sealed the deal for Naveen. He was cast in the role of the serial playboy Karan Kapoor, who could effortlessly serenade any woman into his bedroom. Needless to add, Naveen was roaring his debut, marking the beginning of an unusual relationship between Sahruda and Naveen. Together, they went onto to make several successful theatre plays.
Sahruda had cast Naveen initially not for that unforgettable first kiss but his inventive mind to come up with the most convincing answer to bait the casting team. She saw him shape-shift into any character with a swaggering confidence unlike any other actor that she had encountered. As for Naveen, he met his match in Sahruda. Her explosive mind that birthed infinite stories never ceased to excite him. The sexual tension between them was undeniable. But, they had developed a deep respect for each other´s body of work to even think of toeing the professional line.
“You really like him, don´t you?”
Sahruda felt a shade of crimson brush past her cheeks when Sahil, the director caught her unawares.
“Yeah, he´s a damn good actor.”
“You know what I am talking about.”
“Love is a myth, Sahil. I´ve been broken too many times.”
“So, you still think about him?”
“Sometimes. It comes as a cruel reality check when my heart goes soaring.”
“Naveen is smitten by you.”
“So was Punit.”, Sahruda said and walked away from the uneasy conversation.
After a tormenting marriage that came to a crashing end owing to infidelity, Sahruda had given up on love. She chose to channelize her energies into becoming the country´s greatest story-teller that it had ever seen. She was attracted to Naveen the minute he walked into the theatre hall on the last day of the audition. Knowing him in close quarters only increased his appeal for her with each passing day.
Naveen was in a live-in relationship with his college sweetheart Priya. But what deterred Sahruda was the gaping age-gap between them. She was forty and Naveen was twenty five. She had seen too much of life to know men by now.
At forty, Sahruda was wiser and calmer than before. She thought before she spoke or acted. Naveen was a reflection of her younger version. He was young, brazen and beautiful. Somehow, they worked in perfect tandem together! They spent hours at the coffee shops, dining in restaurants, discussing plausible scripts and characters. But, there was something more than their common love for the theatre that tied them together.
“ I’m having trouble understanding this character, Sahruda. Why don´t we catch up at your place for a quick round of discussion? ”
Late that afternoon, Naveen met Sahruda at her apartment. Filling in as his female lead, Naveen and she enacted a couple of scenes together to clear the air over Naveen´s character.
“Aditi! You cannot leave me now. Not after all that we have been through.”
“Raj! Please let me go. It´s over between us.”
“I love you, Aditi.”
“So do I, Raj? But some love stories are doomed from the start.”
“Are you kidding me, Sahruda?” Naveen narrowed his eyes and grabbing her by the waist, he kissed Sahruda the second time.
“Tell me if this story isn´t about us. Tell me if this spells doom for you. Because for me, you are my motivation to get out of the bed every morning and come to the theatre.”
“To think that this can even work is a crazy proposition, Naveen.”
“Please change the script, Sahruda! You are the writer of your own destiny.”
“What if you change along the way, Naveen? In a few years, I will grow old. Look old and you´ll be regretting this moment.”
“ Does every love story work the same way, Sahruda? Give us a chance and then make a decision.”
“I am not sure about marriage or kids. Maybe I never will! ”
“But what if you want it down the line?”
“It isn´t more important than having you in my life, Sahruda. Besides, we´ll cross that bridge when we get there. If ever! ”
“Fine! I´ll change the ending of the script.”
Naveen shouted in glee before raising his hands up in the air –
“Thank you, Universe!”
Does Priya know?”
“Soon!”, said Naveen before shutting the door behind him.
This had to be the diciest ending that Sahruda had ever scripted. But, she knew, in her gut, that it was the right one for this story.
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