Shalini

December 4, 2014 at 9:15 AMDec (Cinema, Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life)

10Two days ago three of my friends and I decided to watch DDLJ for the love of it and after DDLJ we felt like watching Dil Chahta Hai and watched it too.

I was watching DCH after a long time and when we started watching the film it did not occur to me that one of the key character’s name is SHALINI. So when Preity Zinta introduces herself as, “SHALINI” I was like, “Oh yeah her name is SHALINI in this film,” and laughed to myself…

While studying at the Film Institute my teacher Anjum Rajabali introduced this fictitious character named SHALINI in our class. We were in the screenwriting course and in class when we would be discussing character development, character arc, scene construction, dialogue writing either some film would be used a reference. But sometimes Sir would come up, spontaneously, with an imaginary moment and explain.

In one of our initial days in class Sir, who always keeps his class conversational, in his signature style of putting his hand in his pocket and leaning forward slightly said, “Imagine Samvartha is in love with some girl. Say SHALINI…” and continued to explain character development with the love story between Samvartha and SHALINI.

It being one of our initial days I felt quite special because Sir took my name and wove a story and I actually assumed that all the 11 of us would become characters some day in some imaginary situation for the class.

Next time when Sir wanted to give a hypothetical example without referring to any existing film he said, “So imagine…” and paused to think a bit and with a notorious smile looked at me . “Samvartha has finally won SHALINI and now…” and he continued the class. When all my classmates laughed I realized that I was that ‘chosen one’ in that class and that it would continue till the end of the course.

The imaginary love story between Samvartha and SHALINI continued in class after class. Once, in one of those off moods, when I asked, “Sir why me always?” Sir said, “This Samvartha is not you. This Samvartha has a SHALINI in his life.” What could I say? I let the story continue where now problems had emerged between an imaginary Samvartha (?) and SHALINI. In one of the next classes when SHALINI made her appearance in the class I told Sir, “Please find this SHALINI and make me meet her. Any ways I am single I will consider dating her.” He immediately said, “If I have to go find SHALINI for you then what will you do?” and the story between Samvartha and SHALINI continued…

_MG_0594By then everyone in class knew that whenever Sir would say, “Imagine…” who, in the next few minutes, would make special appearance in the class. Thus SHALINI became this non-existing yet ever present member of our class.

When our course was to get over when I told Sir, “SHALINI abhi tak nahi mili…” he said, “tumney doondha nahi theek sey...” and both of us had laughed.

After the course when I got back home my mother kept pressurizing me to get married and I had all the excuses in the world. At one point she asked, “Do you like some girl?” and out of the blue I remembered this imaginary girl and told my mom, “Yes. SHALINI.” My mother was slightly upset, yet curious. She asked, “Who is SHALINI?” and I was like, “Ask Anjum… I dont know.” Then to calm her down I had to tell her the entire story of SHALINI which brought a smile on her face.

Almost a year after our course while talking to Sir over the phone he said, “Samvartha you have to be there for the decennial celebration.” I said I would be there for sure and later had messaged him saying, ‘Sir please ask SHALINI also to come for the decennial celebration.” He had replied with a smiley.

In Pune just before the decennial celebrations began Sir and some of us were having lunch together and I was sitting right between Anjum Sir and Ashwini Sir. After the initial questions, “How are you?” “When did you arrive?” Sir said, “One of the agendas of this decennial celebration is to find SHALINI.” Both of us laughed and Ashwini Sir asked who SHALINI is. I narrated the whole story to Ashwini Sir who on listening to it smiled.

After that day nothing/ nobody reminded me of SHALINI and yesterday while watching DCH when the name was uttered there was a flood of memories… FTII, teachers, classmates, friends and the faceless non-existing yet ever present SHALINI.

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