(Please note the following article is a satirical fiction work. This humorous story is part fiction and part reality. The real-life characters who are set up in fictional plot are not to be taken literally or too seriously. The message is far greater than the verified reality in this humorous article. Enjoy!)
“Hello! Can I speak to Tina Sequeira?” said the voice on the phone.
“Hi! I am Tina Sequeira. May I know whom I am speaking to?”
“You are speaking to Ayesha Takia. I hope you remember me.”
“Ayesha Takia! Are you kidding me? Who can forget the petite, cute, dusky beauty who was a sweet part of our childhood years in the Complan commercial with Shahid Kapoor! And dancing dreamily in our teenage years to the Jhankar beats in Falguni Pathak´s ´Meri Chunar Udd Udd Jaye. And, later shaking it for her Daddy in DJ Aqueel´s ´Nahi Nahi Abhi Nahi´ in the stuck escalator!”
“Please stop! You are making me blush endlessly. Tee hee! I was hoping you´d remember me because no one else seems to recognise me any more.”
“That´s hard to believe. You were the nation´s sweetheart at one point of time. I mean, you still are. But, you´re married now, have a child and don´t act anymore. It´s probably why you are not at top-of-mind for the public anymore. I´m sorry. That´s how showbiz fame works, I guess!
“Sigh! I guess there´s some truth to that. But that´s not what I am talking about. No one recognises me even in person anymore.
“That must be cruel for someone who´s used to being the spotlight. Even though I love the power of anonymity.
“Tina, I know you never expected a call from me, as famous as I am, but I’ve been given your name as someone who can help me.”
“Wait a minute, Ayesha! Who gave you my number?”
“See, I cannot reveal any details. Let´s just say ´Big Boss´for now. That´s not the point. I need your help”
“How can a mere layperson like me help you, Ayesha? Even though, I´d be highly honoured to be in a position to do so.”
“Please listen to me without any judgement okay!”
“Sure! I´m all ears!”
“You know it was really hard for me to make a mark in this industry. I cannot even tell you how many rejections I had to face early on. I was never good enough for this industry. No one ever is!”
“That´s not fair!”
“Tell me about it! Some part of your body needs to go under the surgical knife or needle for sure to remain viable and competitive in the market. Whether it is a nose, lip, jawline, botox shots, silicone breast implants, liposuction and more, almost every actress barring a few have done the bodyworks! You name it…they are all featured in this Plastic Surgery cum Botox ´Hall of Fame´. Be it Sridevi, Sushmita Sen, Rakhi Sawant, Sunny Leone and many more beauties.”
“Ah! The price one pays for money and fame!”
“Ultimately, I followed suit and fell bait for the ways of the glamour industry. I became a wholesome and fuller version of myself with my new-found assets literally busting out of everywhere. Whether my movies were a hit or sank without a trace, I certainly did not go unnoticed this time around. My sex-appeal had absolutely no competition. I had the best of both the worlds – a youthful cute cherubic face and the Óoh-la-la´ oomphalicious curvy body of a woman at her prime. Overnight, I became the ´pin-up poster girl´ for almost every Indian male.”
“That´s true! But, a thousand apologies. I´m still not getting any inkling as to why you contacted me of all the people? Or what your problem is?”
“Tina, it´s complicated. My problem is this. Do you remember that fateful night of 8 November 2016 when….
“Ayesha, Haan haan yaad hain mujhe woh bhayankar raat jab Modiji uttered the most dreaded word of the year 2016 – ´Mitron´. Yes, that most dreaded word in the Hinglish Dictionary which means
A) A large group of unsuspecting people, about to be hit by something they will take a long time to recover from.
B) A precursor to bad news for large groups of people.
He announced a badass note currency ban on Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. His ultimate goal was to push India towards becoming a cashless economy.
´Forget all real assets of cash and go plastic´, he tearfully pleaded.
´The Nation wants to know WHY?´, screamed Arnab Goswami at the top of his voice.
´For the country´s ´Achhe-Din´!´, replied Modiji calmly.
I remember everything, Ayesha! Demonetisation took a toll on you, is it?”
“It screwed me for life, Tina. When I heard the PM´s address, I swung into swift action. As a true Indian patriot, it was my moral duty towards making the revolutionary Indian Prime Minister´s plastic dreams come true. No more physical hoarding of any of my real assets anymore. So OUT went the baby face and IN came the unrealistically perfect ´Kylie Jenner´ face.”
“I know it was a such a stupid move now. But at that time, I couldn’t believe my luck that the goal was finally realised – The Plastic Dreams of Achhe Din. It is another story that my plastic version is unrecognisable to even most hardcore diehard fans. Even the advocate, PM Modi itself.”
“I´m so sorry, Ayesha! How can I help you?”
“I would like you to write about this. I want you to provide your astute insights on this dhokla khokla plastic debacle in the film industry and country today.”
“I would love to do that, Ms.Ayesha! Do you have something more to share?”
“Yes! Just recently I came across this Instagram post by Indian Cricket Captain Virat Kohli. It was a video of his wife checking a citizen on the road not to throw plastic on the ground. Anushka Sharma is a brand ambassador of ´Swach Bharat´ campaign it seems.”
“I heard that. So, what´s your point?”
“I mean I´m getting all confused yaar Tina. PM Modi wants to remove real assets and bring plastic mode of transaction. Now, plastic is good or bad for the nation? I am in a real jeopardy.”
*Bangs my head on the wall*
“You think I´m downright stupid, don´t you! Sob sob!”
“No! No! It´s not that. Everything´s a mess. The film industry, the politics and the country. It´s dirty everywhere. And it´s not the Gandhis fault all the time, you know.”
“True! With all due respect to Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli! I personally feel that it is perfectly right for Anushka to remind a fellow citizen that they should not litter. But, filming and sharing that (read shaming) on social media is questionable. Cannot help but wonder if the same yardstick is being applied in all aspects of their lives – Anushka Sharma (the one who called out the litter crime) and Virat Sharma (the one who shot and shared the video). Do the power couple similarly remind all their fellow film, cricket, business or politician friends who transgress from their duties, film and share their deadly sins on social media as well? I would love to see a continuous series of this whistle-blowing couple. This could be the start of a revolutionary ´Swach Bharat´campaign from inside-out.”
“Hahahaha! Now, that would be my kind of Ácche Din´. Not, the superficial ´Gandhi hatao, desi bachao´ campaigns. It will be true progress for the nation, Ayesha!”
“Parantu..magar…Aren´t we already in Acche Din? Modi ji jo pradhaan mantri hain!”
“Kahein Ka Acha Din, Ayesha ji! Let me read Dhruv Rathee´s latest tweet:
After just 4 years of #AcheDin
– India has become world’s worst country for women
– India has become world’s worst country in air pollution
– India has become world’s 2nd most unequal country
- Press Freedom, Hunger & Environmental Protection Indexes have fallen drastically.”
“Arri baap re!”
“Let´s come back to you, Ms.Ayesha. I will write an article on the unrealistic standards of beauty in the glamour industry. I know you were a victim of the prevailing circumstances. Besides, I am no one to question your choice, Ms.Ayesha! Or anyone´s for that matter. It is your freedom to do what you want with your life, body or face. But I seriously want to question the notion of societal beauty standards set by the industry.
Who decides what type is beautiful?
What skin color defines beautiful?
What hair style defines beautiful?
What shape of the eyes, nose or lips is beautiful?
What size of the breasts or the buttocks is beautiful?
What height and weight is beautiful?
What dressing style is beautiful?
Is the ideal of beauty a timeless standard or changing as per the whims of the industry?
Does it prey upon the insecurities of people to fill its own pockets?
In times like these, when people are out to cash in on an individual´s insecurities, it takes a whole lot of courage to be comfortable in your own skin and love yourself the way God created you.”
Exactly, Tina! You have said what´s on my mind. I have been having such questions of late, for which I am trying to find the answer. That is why I came looking for you.”
“I´m so glad you did, Ayesha ji! Whether Modi´s cashless or plastic economy will really curb corruption, ensure safety of women and all minority sections, improve the environment, economy and bring in the Áchhe Din´ remains a million dollar question that only time will answer. However, when it comes to beauty, the answer is quite proven time and again – Keep it real, simple and natural……That´s when it´s ´Achhe Din´ for everyone!”
“I feel much lighter, Tina! How about catching up for coffee when I come down to Hyderabad?”
“Gosh! That would be fantastic indeed! Chai pe charcha…mann ki baat…koffee…rendezvous…..aap ki adalat…sab ho jaye!”
I’m participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018