Short Story - By Kakuli Nag
“We are very glad to have you on our show - Face the Facts”
The lights flashed on Sonali Ganguly and a dozen similar images of her well maintained frame in black Dhakai Jamdaani emerged on the TV screens. I was about to interview one of the finest actresses from Kolkata, a legend of “Monimala” fame that had hit the small screen in late eighties and had been a huge success. The format of this show “Face the Facts” was primarily built to dig and dwell on the deep secrets of celebrities. This being the last episode of the series, I had the herculean task ahead to conduct the interview, shouldering the huge responsibility of concluding this episode on a very high note to keep all chances open of coming back again in a while with the second series, just after we manage a few more celebrities to reveal some of their never spoken before secrets.
“My pleasure too - I am glad to be here”, Sonali spoke softly in a composed manner. I continued to admire her attire more than I ever did her acting about which I was expected to ask my first question and then directly switch to other questions – more personal.
“How did ‘Monimala’ happen?” I made a huge effort to look interested in her response.
She spoke at length explaining how it happened, in variety of excited tones of which I retained just the following bit for the show, post editing. I needed her secrets, not her initiation in acting and obviously I had very little patience for it – I knew my audience had even less.
“It was almost sudden and it was like a dream come true” She concluded and that’s the bit I retained. I however added a clip of that famous serial to pacify my audience’s appetite for glimpses of younger Sonali which consumed eight minutes of the show’s air time.
“So how did Dipu, I mean Dipankar happen?” I quickly asked my second question without a minute’s pause. She was surprised at my abruptness and did not seem to be prepared for a response. She managed a half baked reply, without much thought- “A celebrity’s life you know is not all rosy, like most of the commoners think. There are several disappointments that we need to cope up with in both personal and professional life.” It sounded like a rehearsed line, delivered with much expertise, more often in her daily life and not in interviews alone. She continued, “I was never happily married. He was not a creative person. He never learnt to value me as a person or appreciate my talent. He could not adjust with my success, fame and was extremely jealous of me” She continued to work on the basic plotting of denouncing her ex husband to justify herself for whatever steps she had taken in her life, my intelligence forewarned me.
“How did Dipu happen?” I repeated my question, almost ignoring her detail out of context response. She did not look too pleased at my insistence or my way of probing. I did not care much about her annoyance as I had to get this wrapped in twenty two minutes and I had to squeeze in commercials too. I therefore could not afford the luxury of allowing her to muse and get poetic about her life with her husband or go overboard about her artificial nostalgia.
“I met him first in my house during the weekend gatherings with my cousins for practicing music. Dipu was very understanding, caring and he knew about what I had done after marriage and so he had been very protective of me” Though it was pronounced, the dramatic effect did not quiet get built. So I rephrased what she had just said for the benefit of my audience, “What exactly do you mean? What was it that Dipu knew about you that your fans did not? What was it that you had done in the past that made him protective of you?”
“Be right back, to know the answers, after this short break” I spoke facing the camera in a louder than usual with that do not go anywhere voice anchors usually use. It is almost mechanical now and the curiosity approach always kept the audience hooked – old tested formula or so the organizers believed.
We got her glycerin. She needed to recall the torture she underwent in her marital life and why she attempted to commit suicide three times and had to cry on the show. My promotion depended on the TRP of this show. Sonali had taken the drastic step of killing herself thrice was some news that was being publicized for the first time ever. Not strangely enough, in fact it was quiet predictable that people would automatically sympathize and forgive her for whatever she had done – marrying Dipu leaving her ten year old son with her ex husband – the man she blamed for all her suicidal attempts.
I received rave reviews for the interview once it was telecasted. I was happy with its outcome, people’s reaction and soon I was celebrating my promotion with a friend of mine who was a sub editor for a popular national magazine. He wanted last minute comments from me on an article that he had edited, before he published it. I sipped coke and started to read. The article was titled “Rudro’s Voice”.
To be concluded in Part II
Read Part II .