Saturday, October 25, 2008

13\3 PMGP – End

Initially, the agent who had helped me purchase the flat had stared suspiciously at my unkempt beard and had warned me, ‘You are welcome to stay here…. But don’t do anything ‘aise-waise(This and that) with our girls.’ I was a bit surprised. Did I look the kind who would do all sorts of ‘aise-waise’ with anyone at all? Not taking any chances, I started to trim my beard and comb my hair regularly.

The original alloties of the flats in PMGP colony treated their film and media neighbours as ‘outsiders’. But the ‘locals’, as we used to call them, were as depended on us, as we were on them. The software boom was yet to arrive. We, therefore, were the neo-rich professionals. And we had the cash.
A journalist from New York once wrote an article on India and the transformation that it was going through due to globalisation. He did some exclusive reporting on PMGP. All of us were branded as 'young Indian yuppies' living in the gettos of Mumbai. I should thank my stars that my uncle, who was trying to find a suitable bride for me at that time, was unaware of this discription.

So, your housemaid stayed opposite you; the cable guy was just a block away, the roadside vegetable vendor resided two floors below, the milk man was on the third floor and the lady next door delivered home made food.

On the ground floor of a building, a ‘Kholi’ got converted into a hair-cutting saloon. In another, a doctor inaugurated his clinic. With in a few days he had a zerox machine and an STD booth installed. Tiny plays schools, tuition classes and beauty saloons mushroomed.

And when a sound recording studio got set up, I got the jitters. Why don’t I set up an editing suit at 13\3? After all, it was a ground floor flat. Business would be great. My friend Rajiv nodded in agreement, but my partner at ‘Dziga Collective’ thought that purchasing an auto rickshaw was a better idea.

Meanwhile activities at 13\3 continued. If a friend fought with his wife, he dropped anchor. While I wrote one of my many soon-to-be-made scripts, he stared blankly at the ceiling. When his wife hunted him down, the fight would start all over again. If a writer had guests at his house, my ‘Kholi’ was the most sought out space for screenplay narrations. Thus, the seeds of many great films were sown at 13\3.

Many times, juniors from my film school hopped in with bag and baggage. And when they searched for an alternative accommodation, guess who provided them with an estate agent? That’s right – yours truly. Where did all the deals take place? – Right again, ‘Kholi’ No. 13\3. For anyone who came to my door steps, my principle was simple - stay on as long as you wish and if I am broke, do pay my electricity bills.

There were times when, during my evening walks, a series of local estate agents used to salute or greet me. They generally enquired about my well-being and kept me amused. After all, I gave them business and charged no commission for it.

Kaate Saab (sir), his son-in-law assistant, the ‘Naani’ (aunty) with a big bindhi on her forehead sitting all by herself in her tiny balcony, the friendly independent Rajasthani grocery shop aunty and her two sons; and my ‘bai’ (house maid) who used to call me ‘beta’ (son) to get more things done by me than she ever did herself…

A cousin once remarked – ‘You are so popular that you should be a candidate for the PMGP elections, if at all there were one’. Thank God, I did not take him seriously. Otherwise, world cinema would have truly lost one of its champions!!!

Jokes apart… most people whom I knew or lived along during those days have shifted out of PMGP. But like me, many still maintain their account in a bank situated there. I have no idea why…

At times, when I visit the bank I do bump into a sound recordist friend of mine, who has been staying there for more than thirteen years now. Not that he can’t shift, he just won’t. And he is at peace with himself.

It took me a long time to get out of it. And, I believe, it had got nothing to do with the place itself or its physicality…

It was just the way I looked at it.
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