Friday, 14 August 2020

part 3 : Life Behind A Camera (ss)

Ridhima walked into the sets, her head bowed down and the sunglasses covering most of her face. She had her iPod earphones plugged into her ears and the music turned up to block out the noise and the voices of people. But mostly it was done to avoid hearing him, and to have minimum association and contact with him.

Going into her dressing room, Ridhima closed the door behind her and went and sat in front of the mirror, analyzing the face staring back at her. She probably wouldn't have been able to recognize herself if she hadn't seen the exact same face the week after he had left.

Ridhima walked into the set of DMG, and began to fiddle with the strap of her purse to avoid the pity glances she was getting from everyone. She wanted to shout at them to look away, she didn't need their glances, she knew he was going to come back. It was probably some emergency, why weren't they understanding? Why couldn't they understand that Armaan wouldn't just abandon everyone like that if it hadn't been some life-threatening situation.



But even as she thought that, Ridhima knew she was making silly excuses. One phone call Armaan, just one phone call. How long does that take? Ridhima could feel the frustration mounting inside of her as she realised that the strap of her bag had tangled up with all her fiddling, and now she needed to fix it.

Pulling at it, Rihdima tried to loosen it, but it kept getting tighter. Breathing heavily, Ridhima tried to control the tears and the anger that was bubbling in her. She could feel her hair coming out of her hair tie, and she could feel the sweat forming on her forehead from the tension.

Ridhima pulled at it harder, and she could feel everyone staring at her. She knew all the spot boys and all the make-up artists were plainly looking at her, talking amongst themselves at her state and giving her pitiful looks. Ridhima wanted to scream, wanted to hit them all, and she wanted to just sit down and cry for Armaan. Where was he? Why wasn't this knot loosening? What was happening?

Ridhima felt a hand on her shoulder, and she shook it off. Concentrating on the bag, and trying to untie the knot. She hoped that maybe if she could do that, then maybe that would help her figure out the mess with Armaan. Her breathing got heavier as a few tears slipped from her eyes, and she knew that most of her hair had separated from the hair tie, and had formed a curtain around her face. She was sure that she must look like a maniac, but she didn't care. She couldn't care, not when everything was going wrong.

The hand on her shoulder returned, this time it held her with a stronger grip. Ridhima shook it off again, but it wouldn't move. Ridhima opened her mouth to shout at the person, but her words died in her mouth when she saw Sid standing behind her, his mouth set in a thin line, and looking at her with anger. Ridhima frowned as she looked at him. What was he angry about?

Sid, frowning, took Ridhima by the elbow and guided her to her own dressing room. Completely baffled by his actions, Ridhima let herself be guided, staring at his back, trying to figure out what was wrong with him now.

Opening the door to her dressing room, Sid took her inside and made her sit on the stool in front of her dressing table. Facing her, he slowly swiveled the stool around so she was facing the mirror. Ridhima's eyes widened as she took in her appearance. Her hair was in a disarray, either sticking to her face because of the tears, or forming knots. Her eyes were puffy and red from having cried so much, there were dark circles under her eyes and there were frown lines on her forehead. The kajal pencil she had put on to cover some of the pain had disappeared from her eyes and had left streaks of black across her cheeks. She felt, and looked at least 10 years older her age.

Giving a sob of astonishment, Ridhima brought her hand up to her mouth to stifle them, and leaned forward to hold in the pain. What had happened to her? What was she doing to herself?

She felt Sid envelop her in a hug and shushed and rocked her. Holding onto him for her dear life, Ridhima could feel her heart breaking. Why hadn't Armaan called her yet?

"W-wh..What do I do S-Sid?" Ridhima asked helplessly as she leaned into him, sniffling and wiping the tears from her eyes.

Sid sighed and looked into her eyes, "you pull yourself together, Ridhima. You need to move on, and pull yourself together. Take a break for awhile from all this and figure it out in your head. Please Ridzi, you can't do this to yourself anymore"

Ridhima closed her eyes, suddenly exhausted. Nodding, Ridhima decided to have a talk with Mohit regarding her absence and started on the journey of slowly putting the walls around her heart.

********

"Ridhima, you alright to do the shot?" Mohit asked her quietly as he took in her appearance.

Ridhima nodded and tried to smile brightly at him, even though her heart felt like two hands had grabbed a hold of it and were squeezing it till she felt light-headed with the pain.

"Alright then, you have about 10 minutes to get ready. I want this shot to be perfect" Mohit said as he switched back into the work-mode, dismissing Ridhima.

Ridhima quickly walked back to the room, and the make-up artist and the hairstylist followed her. Sitting down, Ridhima let them do their work as she tried to read the episode's script.

Jennifer has a talk with Karan about their relationship
Jennifer meets Karan, her ex, again, and tries to ignore him.
Jennifer gets cornered by him..Jennifer and..WAIT, WHAT?

Ridhima's eyes widened as she read her sequences again. Mohit wanted them to do such a close scene? No way, nuh-uh. Not happening.

"Mohit sir ko bulana" Ridhima told one of the girls in a clipped tone as she glared at her reflection.

The girl scurried out of there to look for the director and returned, not even a few moments later with Mohit walking behind her, a knowing look on his face.

"Ridhima, I think I know what this is about" He said, as he sighed and stood beside her.

"Mohit, I thought you of all people would know that..that.." Ridhima couldn't finish the sentence and went back to glaring at her reflection, a thin sheet of tears in her eyes.

"Ridhima I understand if you are uncomfortable doing this. But the TRPs have doubled since the two of you have come back on-screen. Your chemistry is sizzling, and we are trying to take advantage of that!"

"Mohit, I think it's too early for...for..Jennifer to be..to be..kissed by him" Ridhima spat out, as her cheeks went red with frustration.

Truth be told, the episode would probably break the records of all TRPs recorded on DMG, but she still could not gather the courage to be in such close proximity with him. Especially after yesterday.

Mohit sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. "I'll try and see what I can do to change it. But Ridhima, there probably won't be much. And you have to know that sooner or later you will be doing a lot of close scenes with him" Mohit explained and stormed out of there.

Ridhima gave a sigh of relief and continued to stare at her reflection, the inner turmoil visible on her face. She knew she was being unreasonable getting Mohit to go through all the trouble of re-writing the scene. She had never thrown a tantrum, but this was one thing that she knew she wouldn't have been able to go through.

 ******

"LIGHTS, CAMERA AAANNDDD ACTION!"

Jennifer walked into the cafe, fatigue making her weak and tired as she slumped into the chair and dumped her books onto the table. So much reading had to be done, and Jennifer hadn't even started any of it. Ordering a coffee, Jennifer laid her head on the table and closed her eyes for a few minutes.

Someone pulled a chair and sat down opposite her. Opening her eyes, Jennifer saw her boyfriend, Karan sitting there, with a small smile on his face as he looked at her. Jennifer immediately averted her eyes as she felt the guilt weighing her down. Just yesterday she had seen her ex, Karan, and she had hugged him with passion. Yesterday's moments kept replaying in her head, which is why she didn't even notice when he had scooted his chair closer to her, and taken her hand in his, looking at her with concern in his eyes.

Snapping out of her daze, Jennifer looked back at him. She had made up her mind. She had to tell Karan about her past life. She had to tell him about KSG. She had to let him know that she had given her heart to someone else before.

"Karan..mein tum se kuch kehna chahti hun" Jennifer started, looking into his eyes as she tried to find the right words to say to him.

"Haan bolo Jen" Karan said, as he gave her hand a small squeeze to give her the support to finish off whatever she was saying.

Taking in a deep breath, Jennifer opened her mouth to tell him when she was cut off by another voice.

"Hey Dude! There you are!"

Jennifer felt her back stiffening as she recognised that voice. As she felt his presence, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and Jennifer could feel goosebumps on her flesh.

She saw as her boyfriend broke eye-contact with her, and looked past her to the person standing behind her. She saw as a grin stretched across his face, as he looked at the devil in disguise, with compassion and warmth.

She saw with shock as her boyfriend got up and gave Karan a manly hug, chuckling and saying something.

Inhaling sharply, Jennifer's eyes widened, and it took all self-control she had to not let her mouth drop open in surprise. How did they know each other? When had they met each other.

Not looking at Karan, Jennifer kept her eyes trained on the table, her body stiff and uncomfortable as she tried to digest what she had just witnessed.

Swallowing hard, Jennifer pleaded with everything above to save her from this situation, but the Gods were not on her side, and before she knew it, her boyfriend had pulled her up, put an arm across her waist and started the introductions.

Jennifer tried her best, tried her hardest to ignore him, and not make eye-contact, but when her boyfriend was doing the introductions it was hard to stare at the table and not take part.

"Jen! This is Karan Singh Grover, and Karan, this is my girlfriend Jennifer" Karan said, a huge smile on his face as his hand clutched Jennifer's waist.

Swallowing hard, Jennifer finally let her eyes wander up to his face, and suddenly felt herself go breathless. His hardened eyes were trained on her, slowly looking from her face to her waist, and back to her face again. She felt her heart thumping as she saw that his eyes weren't the warm blue eyes she remembered and cherished, they were cold and made her insides feel like ice.

Feeling squirmish under his gaze, Jennifer quickly averted her eyes and looked away. Giving a small smile, she said to her boyfriend,

"Karan woh mein tum se kuch zaroori baat karna chahti thi" Jennifer could still feel his eyes on her, and it took every self-control she had, to not glance his way.

"Er..abhi? Babe, is it that urgent? I am actually about to finish my break...how about later?" Karan said, as he gave her a confused glance.

Giving him a tight smile, Jennifer nodded and said, "Yeah it's a bit urgent. But it's alright, agar tum busy ho, toh we'll talk later"

"Nah, it's cool. I'll meet you at the fire-escape, near the nurse station in five minutes, yeah?" Karan smiled at her warmly.

Jennifer felt her heart clench and twist as he mentioned the fire-escape. Suddenly flashes of her past flooded her mind, and Jennifer swallowed hard to keep the tears at bay. Not trusting her voice, Jennifer nodded and went away from there, not once looking at her ex, and giving him the satisfaction of knowing how deeply he had hurt her.

"AND CUT!"

Ridhima quickly walked towards her room to avoid seeing Armaan. Giving out a huge sigh, Ridhima felt her heart racing in her chest. When Sid had held her in the scene, introducing 'Jennifer' and 'Karan', she had felt her heart stop for a whole second as she had glanced in his eyes.

Suddenly she had found herself wishing that it was Armaan's hand on her waist, not Sid's. Suddenly she had found herself wishing that the last few painful months had never happened, and Armaan was still the person she had found herself deeply in love with. And by some sick sense of humour, she had also found herself wishing that he was jealous and hurting at the fact that he could no longer hold her like that.

Taking in a deep breath, Ridhima went to her dressing table, and started memorising the lines for the next scene.

Sweety

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