Hey, this is a fiction which I started writing about an year back.......I'm putting here the first chapter for your reading pleasure and comments. It's actually a romantic fiction set in the locales of Nainital.
The main characters are Vikas Mathur a budding journo and Alina Patwardhan,a school girl and their blossoming romance when they bump into each other on vacation in the beautiful hill city of Nainital. Of course I'm only putting the first chapter on my blog for now, only for you and hoping that the response is good. Hope it appeals to you and gets read by all the right people.
I hope to find a genuine and a kind publisher who will go through the entire novel running into almost 40 chapters and will hopefully publish it.The novel is set in Nainital, New Delhi, and the last part is in Mumbai....it's a delightful story,witty dialogues,poignant love scenes and breathtaking landscapes. Some of these scenes from both Naini and Delhi will set your mood alive as it takes some of you back in memory lane!
The happenings and events like Amitabh's election are all true incidents but the interactive characters and story telling are all imaginary and bear no resemblance to any place, events or person, dead or alive.....
I'll be more than willing to share the entire script with any credible person who intends to either publish the book or make a movie out of it!
A MIDSUMMER’S LOVE TALE
CONCEIVED AND AUTHORED BY VIKKRAM GULATI
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, printed, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any other means without the prior written permission or consent of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover, other than that on which it is already published, and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters, or places, except those specifically mentioned to by their actual names and are known personalities or places, are fictional,and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Vikas was smart, fair complexioned, had wavy black hair, looked more like a model, and was of athletic build.
A well-established lawyer with a fairly intelligent mind, and lean looks. Except that ‘intelligence’ today is measured by the amount of zeroes your bank balance supports, and not by the ‘intellectual property or prowess’ you might have built up over the years.
So apart from being a fairly good lawyer with a fairly good bank balance, Vikas was plagued by the vagaries of his profession which called for the utmost care and commitment. One slip and the whole case could go for a six.
There was however one major drawback which Vikas faced, which was taking a huge toll on his professional as well as personal life.
Having been thrust with the responsibility of managing a career in the legal profession without any major help or any godfathers, Vikas had his task meticulously cut out for him. He had to maintain his clients as well as to keep the ‘flag flying high’ which had been handed over to him by his father who was in the judiciary.
The one ‘vice or virtue‘ which this dapper lawyer had, was to express his views or keep ‘writing’ regularly, which he did religiously, either in a newspaper column, or through his own blog. For that he could don the mantle of a journo or an author or a blogger. Or all combined in one.
He had always wanted to be a journalist right from the beginning of his working career. In fact even while pursuing his law course he had joined a highly reputed English daily as a ‘stringer’ and during his short stint, would provide numerous stories for them on a regular basis.
In his brief brush with journalism, Vikas had done innumerable scoops on topics as diverse as caste conversions, to an interview with a top Bollywood film personality, who had managed an election ticket for himself on the ‘ruling party’ ticket.
Vikas’s big break as a journo came when he was asked to take over as Chief of Bureau staff from an already established journo. This invite was based solely on the strength of his writing and the writing on the wall for the established journo was clear for all to see. He however declined the offer, Good Samaritan that he was. Reason being, as he didn’t want to destabilise the family of the ‘established journo’.
The established journo was almost in tears for losing face but was assured by Vikas that he would not ‘take over’ his job at any cost and he would remain boss always. Good sense prevailed all around and the established journo called Hyder was neither removed from his job nor was ‘demoted’ and continued as before, while Vikas stuck on as a ‘stringer’. So much for ‘human’ sacrifice, good deeds and impeccable conduct.
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“Can I speak with the Editor in Chief of Daily News, I’am Vikas Mathur this side”.
“Can you hold the line for a moment Sir, what is this call in connection with?” asked the lady on the other end quite inquisitively but politely.
“Well it’s slightly personal, if you don’t mind. I would rather discuss this with Barkha.”
“All right Sir, please hold on, I will connect you in a moment.”
Finally Barkha herself came on the line, “Oh Vikas, so it’s you, OK shoot, what is this about? My operator told me it was something personal you wished to discuss?” (Giggles) “How I wish we were more personal. What do you say? Shall we?”
“Why not Barkha. But right now I rang up to ask you whether you can accommodate my article in your paper” I almost ended up saying rag, and then bit my tongue for it.
“Oh, so it’s the writer in you that’s troubling you again? Right, is it? Well, what are friends for, and definitely I will publish your article. Don’t you worry about that! Just e-mail it to me whenever you have the time and I’ll see to the rest. Take care.” She said as she hurriedly put down the phone.
I was pleased with myself as I disconnected; it was quite a relief and more of a pleasant satisfaction to see your literary work in print. A writer can only imagine his work getting recognition and is comparable to a mother who feels proud and possessive of her baby’s progress.
Remember the first walk, the first step, or the first word the baby utters, the thrill of hearing your own name being taken – Mama or Papa, as the case maybe. And then slowly and steadily the list multiplies.
My urge to put pen to paper was detected when I started my journalist career in my college days. The desire was apparent in the numerous stories that I did for the newspaper I worked for. Story after story with a by-line catapulted me into the ‘top bracket’ without being nominated a correspondent but that’s how it was.
I recalled with fondness and pride, the article I had done with Amitabh Bachchan (the famous film star of Indian films in Hindi), when he had come to file his nomination for the Allahabad Lok Sabha seat.
Amitabh had responded on the clarion call given by his ‘close friend’ Rajiv Gandhi(the heir apparent to India's Prime Ministership) in their joint effort to ‘thwart’ the attempts of the then stalwart leader from UP, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna seeking a re-election from his hometown Lok Sabha seat of Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh in India.
I had then become the first media person to record an interview with Amitabh Bachchan, the reigning super star, immediately on his arrival at Allahabad, second only to PTI and UNI. It was published as a headline with my by-line; my name shining out at the top in all their major editions all over India; after that the recognition just never stopped.
What a proud moment of personal triumph it was for me. A sense of achievement, an accomplishment, of having done something big, something worthwhile on my own. That was my first break as a journo and I still remember how I had managed the interview after talking to Amitabh’s press advisors, his cousin Abhijeet who was accompanying him. Actually Abhijeet had been in the same school together with me, and Amitabh had been my brother’s classmate in that same school at Allahabad. Rest was history, so far I was concerned.
Amitabh’s interview was a stupendous success for the paper I worked for, and was carried as I mentioned, in all the editions of the Daily spread all over India, with a by-line. And boy…… was I finally noticed.
My questions were intelligent, to the point, precise, and cutting. The superstar bore them all with magnanimity and answered them with his disarming smile, which had the ability to set a million hearts aflutter, especially his female fan following. His brooding eyes and sexy pout with that deep cleft in his chin, his bewitching smile; and of course who can forget his deep resounding rich voice, clear and crisp to the ear.
After that interview, I was the ‘blue eyed boy’ of Amitabh, as the superstar asked me to accompany him on most of his speeches in the villages of Allahabad. He referred to me as his ‘lucky charm!’
Wearing his long sleeved ‘kurta pyjama’(a long flowing dress which politicians in India usually wear) and fashionable Gucci shoes which although helped him in covering the fields and ‘pagdandis’(small raised lanes in the village fields) of the dirty slushy village, yet they stuck out like a sore thumb. He however never bothered about all these niceties, how he looked, how he was perceived.
He knew with conviction he looked good in whatever he did, whatever he promoted and his fans gave the reply befittingly time and again to whoever dared challenge his writ.
Everywhere that Amitabh went, there were scores and scores of people all lined up to catch a glimpse of their favourite Lambuji(tall man). Majority of them out there were fans, out to watch their star in flesh and blood. Most of them simply curious onlookers.
Everyone had seen ‘Sholay’- his super hit film, billed as the biggest blockbuster of all times. The film did business in excess of a platinum jubilee, running in theatres for almost years at a stretch.
So there was no dearth of people lining up for ‘darshan’. Ever since word had spread of the star himself contesting from here, the people of Allahabad were buzzing with excitement.
The news had been kept under wraps till the last moment and it was on the eve of the last day for filing nomination that it was finally broken out to the press. Amitabh had landed in a special chartered flight early morning at Bamrauli airport(the only airport at Allahabad), and from there the supporters and fans had lined up the entire route from the airport till the Circuit House to catch a glimpse of their favorite star.
It was as if a meteor had hit this sleeping town. Suddenly the crowd was awake, agog with glee and excitement, hearing this brilliant piece of news. Allahabad had gained prominence overnight. Not that it wasn't prominent already.
After all, Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi all belonged to this great place. The three holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati forming the Triveni and the Sangam, the symbol of faith, the land of the Maha Kumbh and Kumbh, it was all there. But this event was different, almost celestial and magical. A new star was to be born from Allahabad.
It was like a bolt from the blue, more like thunder and lightning hitting its inhabitants from above, like manna from heaven, like water to parched throats. It was the superstar himself, descended from heaven to woo them for votes. The event of the century perhaps.
After all who wouldn't want to see their favorite superstar in ‘flesh and blood’ and see him wave at them. At every 100 meters the Superstar would stop the van in which he was travelling, and pop his head out and start an ‘impromptu speech’. He had had that van specially crafted for him.
It had a thatch- back type circular opening, big enough to let Amitabh get in and out on his own, without disturbing the cavalcade. The entire journey from the airport till the Circuit House, his home to be for the next couple of days, took nearly two hours, although it was a short distance of only 10 km.
He had a few simple, rhetorical but effective words to tell them, ‘I belong to Allahabad; I’m the son of the soil, main hoon chora Ganga kinare wala, my father was a resident of this place and both my parents’ stayed here in Allahabad’.
The crowd in turn was mesmerized, and cheered their approval.
‘I have childhood memories of this place. Will u help me in developing the city of my birth?’ And of course the people roared in affirmation.
Many believed this was simply a ‘road show’ for the entire crowd. Nothing of this would actually translate into votes, and the ‘stalwart,’ the wily nily patriarch, doyen of Indian politics, H.N. Bahuguna would easily win, but alas the end result was not as convincing at all.
Amitabh was a hard worker and a ‘shrewd ambitious campaigner. He had NOT come here to the city of his birth to lose. When his poll pundits informed him after a few days of campaigning that the ‘crowds’ were gathering there simply to watch him sing and dance and he was considered only a ‘nachinya’(dancing star) from the tinsel land of Mumbai, nothing more than that, Amitabh was clearly and visibly hurt and disturbed.
He couldn't take this news with a pinch of salt. He grew very restive, angry and pensive on hearing this feedback, which was apparent from his behavior. I could sense as I was with him at close quarters. He hadn’t come here to lose.
This was more than just an election for him. It was the fulfillment of a promise he had given to his friend Rajiv Gandhi, a fulfillment of the faith his friend had put in him, which he had to deliver upon.A trust had been reposed in him which he had to fulfill. A friend had reposed that trust, that if anyone could defeat Bahuguna, it was him; nobody else. How could he let him down?
He rethought his schedule thereafter. He started door to door campaigning for more than 18 hours a day, going to the interiors of each and every village, requesting the villagers’ and others’ alike to not only ‘support’ him but ‘vote’ for him too. With folded hands, he went around village to village, almost pleading with them to make him win. Let them redeem the trust reposed in him by Rajiv Gandhi. He used to tell them he had come as a 'doot'(messenger) of Rajiv and they listened to him with rapt attention.
He also visited all the Government offices in the city areas such as the AG Office, the Board of Education offices, the High Court, the District Court, the Nagar Palika, university, colleges, markets, and ensured that the people had their loyalties divided.
The people had to be convinced that he would stay on after victory and would ‘help’ them in developing the city into a modern day Shanghai. By dint of hard work and persistent campaigning, Amitabh molded peoples’ opinion in his favor He converted his own impending loss into victory.
The main reason he won his election in Allahabad with one of the highest margins and voter turnout was, because he managed to win the trust of the people, and converted the hardliners and fence sitters on his side. What began as an election to be fought on caste lines got converted into an en masse voting spree in Amitabh’s favour. Mind you there was no internet or twitter or social media at that time.
It was as if an Amitabh wave had hit the city. It wouldn't subside till it had rightfully put the doyen of films firmly in place, and it certainly threatened to blow away his only rival, the great H.N. Bahuguna.
In fact the Opposition’s main plank was only this, that he was not a leader. He had been imported from ‘Bumbai’(the land of films and dreams), that he was a ‘Bumbaiya babu’ , had an established film career in Bombay and there was no way he would ever leave his filmy career, let alone have any spare time for the development of this city, he was calling the city of his birth.
Mr. Bahuguna repeatedly drove home the point with his supporters that Amitabh was an ‘alien’, would never care about the people once he was elected and that would be the end of his ‘flirtation’ with Allahabad. This was clearly stated by him in his interview given to me, at his palatial home situated near Bahuguna market, a posh up market place named after him only.
Amitabh on the other hand tried very hard to demolish this myth in the minds of the people. He was at pains to explain to the people at every meeting that he ain’t going anywhere and he would always serve the people of Allahabad.
How ironical, and mythical these promises would prove, because after he was elected, roughly three years after his election, sometime in 1987, the Bofor’s defence deal kickback controversy broke out and as his name was also dragged into these controversies along with Rajiv Gandhi, he resigned from his seat. Amitabh thereafter never looked back at Allahabad and decided to give it, and politics, a total miss, calling politics a ‘cesspool’.
But coming back to the Allahabad election. It was the mother of all battles. Rest is history. Amitabh managed to pull off a ‘stupendous victory’ over the desi, so far considered unbeatable stalwart, the great doyen of Indian politics, the patriarchal Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, and he, the ‘Nachinaya’ from tinsel town so to say, was declared the new sitting MP from Allahabad – the land of his birth.
He won the election by getting almost 68% of the total vote, which was totally stupendous, considering many in the Opposition believed he would ‘lose his deposit’. Not only did he prove his detractors wrong, but his victory margin perhaps belied his own expectations and the expectations of his Congress party, which had produced a master stroke, a feather from their cap in fielding his candidature from Allahabad.
His victory dance, ‘juloos’ or ‘victory procession’ as we can call it was even more stupendous and bigger than his procession had been on arrival. It stretched over more than 6 km at a stretch and was full of wild dancing men and women with drums, flags, caps and whistles in their hands. The enthusiastic convoy of cheering people was accompanied by scores and scores of cars, jeeps, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, what have you.
The roads were full of people all waving the Congress flag in ecstasy. People lined up on balconies of their homes, on their rooftops and climbed up trees just to have a glimpse of their ‘political superstar’ who had won their hearts by his simplistic style of campaigning.
A lesson to be learnt by all aspiring politicians – however big the adversary, never give up hope. An apolitical person, a novice in the art of cunning politics had taught them the first lesson in fighting and winning elections – practice simplicity, restraint, and be true to your cause. Jeet milegi(victory will be yours).
In sharp contrast, the pain and agony of defeat was writ large on the followers of the great Netaji Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, who had fallen down like a ‘giant ripe huge tree’. People were dumbstruck at the result of the elections.
Political pundits were awestruck at the colossal margin of defeat. It seemed the very moral and physical structure of Pt. Bahuguna had been destroyed. Even H.N. Bahuguna himself couldn't believe his luck.
The reality that a ‘stalwart’ like him in Indian politics could lose to a Bombay film star a ‘nachinya’(dancing star) as he had coined him, an alien to politics, was far too humiliating for him to digest. His career in politics was more or less over, wiped out, brought to a standstill by this defeat.
The superstar, a victor, the man of the moment, was perched atop a mini bus which had a platform built for him and he was waving to people all around. Flanked by local leaders with flags in their hands, there was jubilation and smiles all around. The people kept on shouting ‘Desh ka neta kaisa hon,’(how should the leader of the Country be?)
Pat came the reply, ‘Amitabh Bachhan jaisa hon’,!(should be like Amitabh Bachchan).
Cries of ‘Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Amitabh tera naam rahega’(till the sun and the moon remain, Amitabh, your name would also remain) …..kept renting the air and in this jubilation Allahabad got its first film star turned politician M.P. and their leader had indeed truly arrived. To borrow a phrase ‘Jo jeeta wohi sikandar’(whoever is the winner takes it all)
A new star was born on the looming horizon of Indian politics..........
End of Chapter One.
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