Madhubala- a new venture P2
She was shocked at how fast the year had passed. Bittuji had been good as his word and had helped her negotiate a better deal. Upon signing, 3 Coror’s had been deposited in her new bank account, Madhubala Shamsher Maalik. Roma and Bittuji had been ecstatic, but she had looked at the cheque without any amount of joy, what it had cost her personally was immeasurable.
“Glycerine! You can tell RK to go and stick it now! You are a Superstar in your own right!”
“Bhabhiji! Even chief has never been offered this amount of money on signing a new project and you are relatively new!” He knew RK was going to be put out by it, and Dipsy and Sikki well Bittuji thought with a big grin, those two will get ulcers just thinking about it!
She had accepted it all and taken it into her stride. She was now Madhubala, the film star! Something she had never thought about, even in her wildest dreams. Now that she had achieved what RK had accused her of setting out to do, she thought she would feel joy but she felt nothing. A dark empty cavern had formed in her heart and it seemed to her no light was ever going to be able to penetrate that far.
Steve had made good his promise, after agreeing to taking part in his film she hadn’t even had time to look back even for a moment. He had whisked her off to London where the film was set. Intially she had dragged Roma and Bittuji with her unable to face a completely new country alone, but once she had settled in they came and went to India as their own commitments allowed. She wondered how Bittuji had managed to come, as he was still working for RK, but come he had, happily. Roma had something to do with it she thought as well as the fact that Bittuji was now more like a concerned older brother than PA.
Steve had rented a flat for her, which overlooked Hampstead Heath, a huge park on the outskirts of London, near to the film set. The floor to ceiling windows looked upon the wide extensive park. It was a beautiful flat, furnished with all the luxuries that she could have ever wanted or needed. Her favourite place had become the window seat from which she looked out and watched the children play on the swings and slides. Often she wondered about the finance, budget for her film but Steve reassured her that it was all above board saying they had very sound backers.
Throwing herself completely into her work she had set out to learn everything there was about the craft. Before she’d had RK with her, teaching, coaching, patently sharing his experience of the industry and she had learnt a lot from him and Mehulji, who even now gave her immeasurable amounts of assistance over the phone, but she knew this time she had to prove to the world that Madhubala was on her own now. There was no RK behind her, or beside her, now she stood alone, if she achieved success it would be on her merit and if she failed again it would be on her terms.
The script drew some parallels to her own life. Although in the film her character marries her partner willingly (unlike her own farce of a wedding with a very drunk RK and his absurd char pheras) her marriage in the film too turns into a nightmare. A well known English actor was cast as a man who is the dream man at first but changes completely after marriage to an abusive husband. Slowly the marriage disintegrates and becomes a complete nightmare with her having to walk out in the end and fight for her rights to the business they had built up together. It had been an intense experience working on the film, often her own memories would come and crowd her mind adding a reality to her shots that no amount of training could have produced. Steve and the rest of the crewwas extremely happy with her work she knew.
She reflected back on her own marriage, they had been apart for over a year now. Did he even realise how long it had been? Not even a call, not once. Steve had given her a new phone, but every night even now, diligently she charged up her old phone, if he ever decided to get in touch with her she would be ready. She saw him in magazines, various women on his arm. Had he forgotten her completely that he was happy to be pictured with so many women whilst being still married to her. Roma kept insisting that she file for divorce, but she just hadn’t been able to bring herself to.
The last row she had with Roma before she and Bittuji had left for India had been about just that matter.
‘Glycerine! Look at this!’ She had waved the magazine at her like a red rag, ‘he has no shame at all!’ She paced up and down the sitting room. ‘Eska tou mein!’ she had said throwing the magazine down and stamping on it.
‘Roma it really doesn’t matter.’
“How can you say that? You are a Superstar now, you have had so many offers, so many good looking men want to go out with you, you cant spend the rest of your life alone.’ she had said glaring at a dozing Bittuji. ‘But you maybe right! SOME Men, they are so utterly useless!”
‘Roma, I don’t want to go out with anyone, I have no interest in any man , I have had it with men! But I will not file for divorce, let him, if he wants to get married again he will have to.’
‘But what if he doesn’t! Glycerine you are not listening, get rid off him! You are now Madhubala, standing on your own two feet.’
Now the flat was really quiet without them. She could have gone with them, but chose to stay behind and rest until the premier which was two weeks away. Would he come to the premier she wondered, it was to be in Mumbai. Would she be able to face seeing him again?
She walked to the window and sat down. Winter had truly set in and the park was covered in snow. Children were playing on the slide and swings, happily throwing snowballs at each other and making snowmen. The landscape looked beautiful. Absent mindedly she placed a hand over her tummy, if there had been a baby he or she would have been a few months old. Perhaps they could have…..a sob rose in her throat.
Empty dreams, they were all empty dreams. She had to move on in her personal life…. after all he had.
She stared at the beautiful landscape below, what was she doing sitting around moping, with a smile she ran to her room to pull on extra jumpers and boots, coat and a warm wooly hat. Grabbing her keys and phone she ran out to the park.
The air was bitterly cold, but she didn’t feel it. She walked on down her usual path and spied Mrs Clarke another one of the flat owners from her her building.
‘Good morning Madhoo!’ She said with smile.
Madhu grinned, her angrezi way of saying her name was very cute.
“Good morning Mrs Clarke. How are you today and how is buttons?” she said spying the little doggy’s face peeping out between Mrs Clarkes coat flaps.
“He is being a wimp! Yes you are buttons she said looking down at her pet. Look at the other doggies playing in the snow, he wont even get down from the bench.”
Madhu giggled. Buttons was so cute, she fondled him and he happily climbed into her lap.
“You love him dont you pet, why dont you get a puppy of your own?”
“I would love to but I am not sure..” Madhu sighed.
Mrs Clarkes sharp blue eyes rested on her face. “My dear whatever it is thats holding you back you need to leave it behind you…trust me I have been there and seen most everything. You are young, beautiful and quite famous I hear, make a life for yourself. There is no point looking back and wishing, look forward and do!”
Madhu stared at her, how perceptive she was. All this moping had to stop!
She beamed at Mrs Clarke..”Thank you! Maybe I will get a puppy! Why not!”
He watched her from afar, she was so extraordinarily beautiful. She looked so alone sitting on that bench. He wished it had been different, he wished he could just walk over to her and start chatting, but…… his fists clenched, everything was so complicated. A mess, how would she take it if he appeared in her life again? He wasn’t sure, so he would keep her safe from afar. But he didn’t want her to be so totally alone, he would get her the puppy she wanted. He knew how gentle she was….she had looked after…..he didn’t want to revisit the past either! Eyes dark with pain he turned on his heel, people who walked by didn’t see the tears in his eyes all they saw was a tall handsome man walk away.
Back in Mumbai….
“BITTUJJI! Was he reading the figures right? Bittuji!” He growled.
“HOW and where is Steve Mehta getting all this money from to finance such a huge launch? He gave her 3 Corors for signing, obviously the film making would cost huge amounts and now this worldwide release, distributor costs, advertising, where is all this money coming from?”
“Chief! How should I know.”
“Bittuji, dont lie to me! I want to know!”
“Chief I dont know, saachi, Steve Mehta is keeping his cards close to his chest.”
“Something doesn’t add up, EVEN RK the Superstar doesn’t get kind of budget..tou Madhubala?” His brow creased, what was happening here?
“Then GO and find out, what are you waiting for!” He watched Bittuji shake his head and walk off. Well what did he expect, RK was not going to change.
Everywhere he looked nowadays there she was, taunting him with that smile, staring down at him from giant posters. People who flocked to him to get photographs and autographs now all wanted to know when she was coming back. The Rishap in him loved her rise, But RK …RK he wanted to show the world he was unaffected by her leaving him. He went out with many women as he could. The Media lapped it up, magazines but …never could he …each time he even went near a woman Madhu’s face swam into view. She had ruined him for anyone else.
He stared her face in the magazine, she looked incredible, poised, picture perfect. Did she even miss him? So many time he reached for his phone and called up her number, but at the last minute he had stopped himself from dialling. Well, she could have called him if she had wanted to! He wasn’t the one who walked out on her, she had walked out on him. He checked ever inch of the magazine, but there were no photo’s of her with anyone man. For some reason he felt so much better.
“Good!” He said to no one in particular. “There had better not be!”
But what if there had been, he asked himself would he have done anything about it?