Funny how embarassing it is to read the first ever version of your first ever feature length script. I will take that version to my grave. Happened to read it as I dug out my diary of year 1999.
As I flip through the pages of my diary of year 1999, I really regret quitting the practice. The only written record I have till now is of what led to us writing the script for this movie.
But that’s great, at least I know when it all started.
August 5, 1999
I woke up at 4 in the evening, as usual.
I say as usual because this was the period between when I passed out of communication school (left Manipal on July 12) and joined The Hindu on September 1.
Fifty days of bliss. No responsibilities, no deadlines. Lazed around, woke up late, met up with Murugan, who was in India, like he always is around August every year.
August was like the month all of us guys in the gang met up and caught up with where life had taken us. Ro was Murugan’s girl then. She used to tell her Mum she was going to NIIT class and land up at his place in the afternoons.
So that fine day, I landed up at Murugan’s house, interrupting their conversation. Ro left soon and another friend showed up. Having nothing else to do, we called Ro again and told her we would drop in at her place. We turned up at eight at her place, made polite conversation, what with her Mum around. And we left in forty minutes, after meeting her aunt who was a classical singer, who for some reason, seemed to be very impressed with Murugan’s good boy behaviour. Poor woman didn’t seem to have the slightest clue what this good boy was capable of.
We then left for dinner. Raghu. Murugan’s best buddy Prashant and Mani joined us at this quaint place called Opal Inn for food, after which, we chilled out the usual joint ‘The Potshot,’ (this was the time when pool was cool) till about 12.30 in the night. We bid Raghu farewell. He was joining the Colorado State University and leaving the next day.
It was a practice for Murugan to drop me home, used to call him ‘driver’ and it was only during these ‘drops’ back home when we actually talked serious stuff. I clearly remember how Raghu’s impending departure set the tone for the conversation. We were a close knit gang and life was taking us different places. Raghu was leaving the next day. Murugan would leave by the end of the month too to Pittsburgh. He was applying to medical school the next year. And that would change his life altogether. He probably might not be able to take the 45 day vacation to India that he had been taking in the last five years. Five years before that was when we passed out of high school. And we had managed to be in touch, catch up with each other and in a way involved in shaping up each others lives. I was all set to start job-hunting if I wasn’t going to get a call from The Hindu, the only place I had applied to, out of sheer arrogance. I had the experience, I had a really offbeat resume and I was sure they would hire me.
So life was all set to take us different places. We were all very different people. Some of us were changing. And some of us weren’t. An otherwise cool and casual Murugan, who lived one day at a time, now was talking about the need for commitment in his life. A smart, clever, planner Prashant was now feeling a little down about missing out on a few things during the pursuit of his goals. And there I was, as confused as ever.
Murugan listened to his heart, every moment. Lived every moment, loved every moment.
Prashant listened to his mind, every time. He followed this five year plan he had for life.
And I just could not figure out if I should listen to my heart or my mind.
We were all different guys in a gang in a phase of life where we had to decide what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. This, we realised, was a universal issue.
It would make great material for a movie, we agreed. We instantly decided we would call it Made In Madras. Hyderabad Blues was a hit, Bombay Boys had done pretty well, earlier that year. And we thought it would be a great tribute to the city we loved. A city we grew up in.
But that was not to be.
Before we could discuss more, we reached my place. I got out of the car and wished him bye.
August 11, 1999
It was a bright day. I woke up earlier than usual. 11 a.m.
Reached Murugan’s place by 3.30, checked email on his computer and what did I see?
An email from Deputy Editor, The Hindu, asking me to appear for an interview at the office on the 14th of the month.
A cyclone of some sort lashed the city that day. We were watching the last solar eclipse of the millenium on TV, when a power cut interrupted the relay. Who says this stuff happens only in the movies?
So we happened to discuss Made in Madras yet again.
My life was all set to change. There was a good reason I came back to Madras leaving an advertising job offer I had with FCB-ULKA in Bombay.
I had always wanted to do advertising, so much that my only email account then, had adwala for an ID… In memory of that dream, I have still retained my email@example.com address.
Advertising, in Madras, was dead around that time, a profession with not much scope because all the best brands and most of advertising happened in Bombay. So there was no way I could pursue advertising in Madras.
And I had decided I wanted to be in Madras because after two years of living by myself in Manipal, I wanted to be closer home. Closer to people I loved. Closer to friends. Closer to Di.
The girl for whom I came back to Madras.
The girl for whom I had given up advertising.
The girl I had last spoken to in February that year.
The girl for whom I was now all set to make a movie.