Note: This is a work of fiction and we do not mean to generalize the case. But…you know it’s true, most of the time.
I am 16. The perfect age. I’m probably… I’m not ready for the real world. Let alone a world as complex, deep and dark as the film industry. But I have made my decision. I have decided what my path and profession and passion is. A passion that is mostly defined by the stubborn whim of a teenager. Or maybe the demand of an overly ambitious family, projecting their dreams on my reality.
I take the leap. I try my luck as a heroine. In the south first, because that is how it is done. The path is difficult; sometimes demanding, sometimes shady… sometimes just plain unfair. But a teenager’s passion usually is a force unstoppable. I persevere, I submit, I compromise. But I will succeed. I will become a star heroine. As if that is permanent.
My name on the big screen; My debut. It wasn’t much until I was noticed by a bigger production house. Then, my break. Debut is technically your first movie and Break, as in the eye-candy in a star hero’s movie. Break is when you get to be the love interest/ dancer/ romancer/ damsel in distress beside one of those titled heroes. From now people will believe your break was your debut.
I love watching my name on the big screen. Even if it is in a mundane corner, after the elaborate hero’s title-card, with computer graphics, drama and exaggerated machismo. I never understood what the reason was behind every hero’s introduction being a fight-scene and every heroine’s introduction an elevation of her beauty. But those questions won’t get me stardom. Running in a loosely draped saree for a slow motion shot will.
I’m one of the top heroines now. How do I know that? My success is measured by the number of star heroes I have acted with. Not how many movies, types of roles, or awards I won. That is my worth.
My dates are full; I travel the world; I am the queen. This is my life now I think. Of course, I have my contemporaries, practically doing the exact same thing that I am. I’m not irreplaceable. Because the roles I do, are not either. Anyone of my contemporaries can bag the role that I am meant to do.
Because they’re all more or less the same. It’s an even fighting ground.
My twenties are burdensome. I am in love with this guy, but my PR people tell me it’s professional suicide to accept any relationship openly. They say it will reduce my “appeal”. Because I need to be single and available in real life so my fans are free to fantasize about me without a hurt conscience. My life is not mine. So I have to be stealthy. Make secret trips. I’m living like a fugitive.
At 27 I feel vulnerable. Because there are girls like me who are now 16. Who have their youth to their advantage to claim their stardom like I did mine. I migrate to the north, the Hindi industry. That was the plan right? And now with my contacts, I can. But, they spit me right back. Sridevis don’t happen all the time, I realize.
I long for roles that will keep me in the audience’s mind for my acting, and not for that costume that showed off my waist perfectly. But I guess I missed my chance. I do not regret. The high-life, the glamour, the stardom came with a price, a price which I thought I would never pay, professionally or physically. But the industry makes those rules you set for yourself meaningless, as if they are from a different world. So it’s ok… I convince myself.
I hit 30 and this is how I feel.
Not much after that, the heroes I worked with as a leading lady now have me by their side as a mother. Alright, I am still his love interest in the flashback with the hero’s father (who’s obviously played by the same star). But I get the pre-flashback bonus of white hair, while the hero looks young and ravishing in both the flashback and the present. I see my position diminishing.
My PR people are okay with me announcing even my marriage now. They tell me that it is called “retiring”. But they also say that will keep me in the news. Marriage is equal to retirement. But the star hero I worked with married after his 1st movie years ago. I acted as his mother in the last one.
Apparently the rules of the industry are different for heroes and heroines in the movies.
I cannot give up movies if I tried. It is indeed an addiction. I keep myself busy with smaller roles, or try to produce movies or find something to do with movies somehow. If I have the mettle, I might get a comeback as an important character artist much later in life… I hope I do. Please.
There’s an ad in the newspaper announcing the grand release of the 100th movie of Fighting Star with this one girl who looks as young as I was when I started. This was her break. News about me was right beside her. My headline read “Actress who debuted beside Fighting Star found dead.”
Even in death I was someone else’s heroine.
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