Terry Walmsley Goes to Bollywood
“You’ve been missing for a while,” Joe the pub owner said, as he swished behind the bar.
“I was abroad on an assignment. Warsaw, looking for investment opportunities.”
Joe threw him a look of disbelief. “I have heard things.”
“All untrue, of course.”
“What are you upto these days?”
“I’m busy writing my memoirs,” Terry lied. He was reminded of his boss, who in a final fist to his balls, had threatened to ensure that he would never get another job in the trading world.
“I bet you have interesting incidents to narrate.”
Terry ignored the sarcasm. Prison had given him ample time to work through the library and cogitate over his life and philosophy—with no concrete answers though. Perhaps he would give writing a try.
“I’m still on the first chapter. You might have a mention in it.”
“What do I need to do for that, then?”
“How about a pint on the house?”
“Just one, to get your inspiration going. How does that sound?”
“Jolly decent you are, man.”
Handing him a pint, Joe said, “I set about writing a novel once upon a time. Never got around to finishing it.” He paused for a moment and continued, with a touch of pathos in his voice, “At a certain point, you realize that you haven’t accomplished much in life and never will. But the realization is no longer frightening. You are grateful to merely exist.”
If Joe’s words were meant to illuminate, then the effort was clearly lost on young Terry.
Seven pints later, Terry was high as a kite and horny as a rabbit confined to a deep hole for five days. Which is when Lata walked into the pub and settled down onto the stool besides him.
“Oh hello there,” Terry said turning to her and sizing her up from head to toe. He liked the view. With long hair, a full mouth and sharp chin, Lata was indeed a very attractive Asian woman.
“Hi there,” Lata replied, barely acknowledging his presence.
“You seem kinda upset.”
“Just broke up with my boyfriend.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Don’t be sorry. He’s a genuine fucker.”
“He doesn’t deserve you,” Terry responded, offering her a line of comfort.
“Caught him shagging two bitches while I was busy shooting.”
“I’m an actress. We are filming a Bollywood movie here in London”
“How neat…how neat that I find myself chatting with a Bollywood actress on an ordinary week night.”
“What do you do?” Lata asked, finally beginning to notice him.
“I’m a writer. Working on my first book,” Terry replied, trying to sound interesting. “Innit fucking great that we are both such creative people?”
“Creative people are also very sensitive”, Lata said and to Terry’s amazement, started sobbing into her hands.
“There, there,” Terry said putting his arm around her in an effort to comfort her. A spark went through his body. He hadn’t touched a woman in months and here was his chance to play a knight to a damsel in distress.
“You have no idea how horrible it was walking into the hotel room to find him fucking those whores.”
Terry rubbed her shoulder and massaged her arm. It felt good—to both of them. He was now totally distracted by her body.
“How about a snog, eh?” he asked, whispering into her ear. She did not resist his move on her.
As he kissed Lata passionately, her body going limp in his arms, he suggested, “Perhaps we should head back to your hotel together.”
The rest of the story is like many others. Though the morning after as they left the hotel arm in arm, the wild, crazy night behind them, they were greeted by a bunch of fans, screaming for selfies and autographs. Of course, there was this general surprise and curiosity amongst them about Terry—who he was and what were they doing together? Terry was then pulled aside by a man who claimed to be Lata’s manager and asked to simply fuck off.
Later Terry realized that Lata had totally used him to get back at her boyfriend, to make him feel jealous and redundant. But by then he did not mind, Bollywood had already taken note of him. He was the “gora” the A-lister had shagged. Pictures of the two of them snapped outside the hotel went viral. Soon Indian Moviestar reached out for an interview.
“Are you still in touch with Lata ?” asked the female scribe.
“My t-shirt says it all,” Terry replied, pointing to the words: It was just one night, written across his chest.
“I’m so sorry that it did not work out. Can I give you a hug?”
Terry felt like a chick magnet.
Further interview requests from the tabloids followed, where he had the opportunity to slay even more female journalists with his refined accent and cute looks. It wasn’t before long that the Bollywood movie offers starting pouring in: Jungle Production is looking for a white boy to play Alia’s English boyfriend, the mighty AK Film Company needs a British businessman for its next flick, and so the list went on. Terry couldn’t complain really. Drama was really his thing and he had plenty to talk about, both on and off camera. The buzz of the swirling parties in Mumbai, the attention of the Indian media, the glamour of the awards functions—he lapped it all up. Only occasionally when he would be required to do an awkward dance routine and he found himself wondering what the fuck was going on in his life, that his mind would go back to his time in the cold prison cell and he would break into a smile.
Terry then decided to widen his focus on Bollywood and arranged to meet with Dippy Singh, a Bollywood movie producer and financier, to peddle his own script (he actually managed to pen his memoirs).
“So, what’s the story, Terry?” Dippy asked in his deep baritone voice, massaging his balding head and stroking his triple chin.
“It’s about a bloke's journey from London to Bollywood, with unexpected twists and turns.” He briefly thought of Lata. Setting down his cup of coffee, he joined his fingertips in a steeple gesture. “He has a chance encounter with an actress, without realizing that he’s actually walking through a door to the other side. But once there, he discovers that this is the place where he truly belongs.”
Dippy bit his lip and furrowed his brow in deep thought. “A man inadvertently walks through a metaphorical door into another space and finds a new life? Just like a casual action with lasting consequences, you mean? I like it.”
“The movie opens with our man sitting in his prison cell in London, reading a copy of the Financial Times. But in the final shot, he has bagged a prestigious Bollywood award that he dedicates it to the actress he accidently has a one-night stand with.”
Dippy was now on his feet and pacing the floor, the machinery in his mind turning rapidly. “I’m thinking fast paced adventures, lots of sex and excitement. Throw in a few peppy songs and the package will be dynamite,” Dippy said in an inspired tone. “Do you have a star in mind for this role? I’m thinking Riz Ahmed. No, no, it should be Dev Patel. What do you think?"
“Dev Patel would be perfect.”
“Look Terry,” Dippy said, pulling out a wad of cash from his suitcase. “Take this as a signing on bonus. I’ll put you in touch
with Rajeev, one of our writers. Work with him on the dialogues, fleshing out the screenplay. I’ll try to put together a crew to work on this project.”
“Super,” Terry replied, elated that his movie pitch had gone so well. And now he had the opportunity to take it further with a professional writer!
It turned out that Rajeev was truly some piece of work. Perpetually under the influence of alcohol or weed or both, it became a real task to extract any meaningful material from the general drivel that he produced. Even more annoying was his habit of constantly consulting his Persian cat—Prince for responses.
“I’ve tucked in this scene where our man spends the night sleeping on a bench along the South Bank. Prince, what do you think of this?”
The cat let out a feeble meow and walked away.
“Oh, Prince doesn’t think too highly of this. I may just strike this out.”
Terry looked at Rajeev in utter frustration.
On another occasion: “Terry, today is not a good day, my friend. My supplier, his backup and the backup of the backup have all been arrested. Do you think you could sort something out for me?”
Once it was: “I’ve lost my compass. Prince is at the vet’s.” This was followed by much wailing and crying.
Getting this script movie ready would indeed be a miracle. So, wasn’t Terry chuffed when it was finally done? It was just that Dippy had suddenly turned inaccessible. Calls to his mobile and office were going unanswered. Finally, he managed to find a voice at the other end of the phone.
“May I speak with Dippy?”
“What is this about?” the voice inquired very suspiciously.
“This is Terry. I have been working with Rajeev on a movie script for Dippy.”
“Oh…Dippy is away…he has moved to Dubai…for good."
“For good? Really?”
“He’s run into some tax issues with the Indian authorities. So, he felt it would be better for him to leave the country.”
Terry thought of all the hours he had tolerated Rajeev and Prince for and now Dippy had gone and done a runner. He suddenly felt very nauseous.
Crestfallen and disillusioned, he made his way to a pub in Lower Parel. He may have been through several pints, when a sweet voice distracted him from his gloom. He looked up to find a young lady settling onto a stool next to him. A sense of déjà vu came over him and in his drunken stupor, he imagined this to be an opportunity to walk through a door into another space.