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The 100 Crore Club

Posted on 06 June 2013 by BMMBoxer

- By Nirali Naik, Thakur College

Just what is this club? Where is it located? Why is it the apple of every star’s eye? Who are the members and what does the club do?

Welcome to the 100-crore club! It’s not an actual organisation, but a term used by the film industry to segregate the more successful stars from the rest: only those actors whose films net Rs. 100 Crore or more in India are approved for membership.

It’s cool, it’s coveted, and it is for the crème de la crème. And it’s the latest status symbol in Bollywood!

Getting into the 100-crore club is not as simple as being in a movie that has rung up Rs.100 Crore. To be considered for entry, a film must have made that gigantic amount in net collections, not gross.

For the uninitiated, gross collection of a film is the sum total of the money which is collected at all the ticket counters of cinemas across the country screening that film. Net collection is what remains in the film industry’s hands after paying off the entertainment tax to the different state governments.

The public may have its own definition of hits and flops, but the film industry has always gone by the cost-versus-revenue analysis to determine success (it is also the only objective way of defining hits and flops). A number of avenues of revenue now exist for a producer in addition to a theatre screening.

But it is a generally accepted principle in the film trade that income from most of the other sources like satellite television, home video, etc. depends largely on the earnings from the theatrical business of a film.

The 100-crore club does not take into account the cost of a film as it goes solely by revenue. It is for this reason that Shah Rukh Khan, with Ra.One (total cost Rs. 150 crore approx) and Don 2 (total cost Rs. 80-85 crore approx.), is as entitled to club membership as Aamir Khan, with a blockbuster like 3 Idiots (total cost Rs. 55 crore approx.) and Salman Khan, with a super hit like Bodyguard (total cost Rs. 75-80 Crore approx.).

Literature Review

In the old days, before multiplexes and satellite television and pirated VCDs, success was measured in weeks, not crore. Twenty-five weeks for a Silver Jubilee; fifty weeks for a Gold Jubilee; 100 weeks for a Diamond Jubilee. Film fans returned week after week to watch their favourite heroes dishoom bad guys and romance their favourite heroines. Those days have long gone. The revenue-earning pattern has become increasingly front-loaded over the years, and now most films depend only on first weekend/first week revenue to decide the fate of a film, a trend that has received widespread criticism from industry experts. As the competition for India’s entertainment rupees grows tighter, the amount of time and attention and money that the public has to spend on repeat viewings of film has decreased significantly – which means that we needed a new benchmark for popular success. Enter the new number of popular success for a film in Bollywood: 100 crore, earned at the Indian box office, after the entertainment tax.

In earlier days, when the success of stars and films was measured by jubilees, it was Rajendra Kumar who was reverentially referred to as ‘Jubilee Kumar’ because of the line of silver and golden jubilees he had to his credit. No director or producer has ever had the ‘jubilee’ word appended to his name.

Detractors of the 100 Crore Clubs, tend to focus on two major points. The first is that making money is not a sign of a quality film. That much everybody will agree with. Plenty of wonderful films never catch on with the public. The second point is stickier. 100 Crore Club detractors take the first point – that not earning 100 crore doesn’t mean a film is worthless – and flips it, saying that, if therefore a film does earn 100 crore, it must be worthless. Let’s just go ahead and call bullshit on that logical fallacy.

The massive success of Aamir Khan’s Ghajini signaled not just a return to the masala filmmaking techniques but a return of the aam aadmi’s beloved Hero. And by general opinion, the reason the younger set of actors haven’t cracked the 100 Crore Club yet is because they don’t know how. They don’t know how to pick the kinds of films that will resonate with the masses and they don’t know herogiri. As of now, Shahid, Ranbir, Ranveer, et. al. are fine actors but they are no Heroes and until they listen to their seniors in the industry and start making films that connect with the general public, they won’t inspire the kind of loyalty that Shahrukh Khan can nor will they be able to wield the power of popular opinion like Aamir Khan can. And maybe that’s fine for Ranbir and Imran, who might be content making human-sized films for an international and multiplex-going audience, but the need for that oversized, mythic storytelling that only a Hero can deliver will remain. Mass audiences might drift even more towards regional film or we might find that South Indian Heroes will drift north.

We can’t dismiss films merely for being broadly popular and we can’t conflate popular with mindless.

This club has some supposed rules as well. But since it is more a nomenclature than an actual club, the rules are unwritten. Like, you must be a star to be eligible for membership. The club does not recognise any other community – neither producers and directors nor distributors. Only male stars are members of the club so far. To understand why no actress is a member, it must be understood that the club has, after all, been ‘formed’ by the trade and the media. And excluding women from the group is characteristic of an industry which exercises gender discrimination more than other industries.

Interestingly, although it is the film which touches the 100-crore mark, it is the star who gets membership of the club. This is another indicator of how stars are worshipped by the industry. Bollywood has always been a star-driven enterprise and it is not uncommon for stars to hog the limelight for a hit.

There are several reasons for the optimism in films. Indian consumers are coming of age in their film preferences and looking at serious cinema. As a result, “dark horses”, like say a Vicky Donor (made at a small budget), grossed around R30 crore and Kahaani grossed R50 crore plus. A number of regional films, including Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu, too, have done well this year at the box office. When there were too many stresses, people liked to watch films, which worked as an escape mechanism. Now with the economy improving, people are willing to watch real cinema.

While good content is the biggest pull towards the multiplexes, UFO Moviez COO Pankaj Jaysinh says digitisation has also helped the industry grow box office revenues. “Digitisation has certainly helped the growth in box office collections. For instance, in the pre-UFO days, a big film would release in about 500 theatres, but today, thanks to digitisation, a big film releases in 2,000-2,500 screens on an average. The widespread first-day-first-show releases enabled by satellite delivery solutions have ensured that films are able to reach increasingly larger audiences in the crucial first week (end) of release, which translates into increased box office collections.

Multiplex players who have added screens are reaping the benefits of this rush to the cinema.

And it’s not just the actors and producers benefitting from this phenomenon, but also the Television Broadcasters. They feel that films play an important part in their growth strategy. It gives them good ratings and helps to create a brand. Thus, the film industry has benefited by selling satellite rights at good prices to them.

It’s not just the film’s content that gets it to the 100 Crore club. There are other factors at work which almost all the trade analysts agree with.

Inflated Ticket Prices: The average ticket size at a multiplex today is Rs 140-150, compared to Rs 60-65 in single-screen theatres, according to BoxofficeIndia.com, a film trade portal. Prices at premium chains like Inox and PVR can be as high as Rs 300-350 on weekends (Friday-Sunday), which fetch almost 80% of theatrical revenues earned by a film. (The rest of the business happens during the “lean” Monday-Thursday period.) On festive weekends, multiplex operators undertake a 10-15% hike in ticket prices. For 3D films, the rate is even higher. In big cities, single screen theatres, too, have increased ticket prices. For instance, the average ticket price across single screens in south Bombay is Rs 90-100.

Growth of Multiplexes: Multiplexes have grown phenomenally in the last five years and completely changed the dynamics of the film business. There are close to 1,400 multiplex screens [India has a total of 12,900 screens] which constitute nearly 70-75% of a film’s box-office revenues. By 2015, the number of multiplex screens is estimated to rise to 1,925, according to the FICCI-KPMG Report on the Indian Media and Entertainment industry. Despite high ticket prices, multiplexes have become a preferred choice for cine-goers; the variety of films on offer, a better viewing experience, food and beverage counters and gaming zones etc. ensure that audiences keep coming back.

Digital Prints and Wider Releases: Both are correlated. With the adoption of digital technology, more and more screens in India are becoming digitised from analogue. This is allowing producers to have a much wider release of their films with a massive number of prints. (Digital prints save costs and can be attained fast.) For instance, in 1995, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun released with 500 prints which was a landmark then; in 2009, 3 Idiots released with 1,000 prints which were considered a huge number; in 2011, Eros released Ra.One in 3,100 plus screens and in 2012, Yashraj released Ek Tha Tiger with 3,400 prints in India and 500-600 prints overseas. This number will only grow and with releases getting wider by the day, sky-high theatrical revenues are becoming a routine of sorts.

Extended Weekends/Festivals: Most 100-crore films have utilised long weekends and festivals to the fullest, during which audiences drop in huge numbers and a film’s repeat value is high. Producers have often sacrificed a Friday (which was once sacrosanct as a release day) and tweaked their schedules to make the most of festivals by clubbing them with the traditional three-day weekend. For instance, Bodyguard released on a Wednesday and a five-day weekend surrounding Eid followed; Ek Tha Tiger released on a Tuesday and a six-day weekend with Independence Day and Eid followed; Golmaal 3, Ra.One, Son of Sardaar and Jab Tak Hai Jaan released on Diwali which fell in the middle of the week and a lengthy festive weekend followed; Ghajini, 3 Idiots and Don 2 released on the Christmas week, gaining heavily from the festive spirit and New Years’ holiday.

All these elements simultaneously create a 100-crore blockbuster. Gone are the days of silver jubilees and golden jubilees which measured the success or failure of a film. Today, the fate of a film is sealed on the opening day itself or at best, on the first week. The biggest of films have a run of only three to four weeks at the theatres as more and more new releases knock at the door and eventually push the incumbent out.

Some myths surrounding the 100-crore film need to be busted. The film trade, today, is mostly concerned about the gross collections at the box-office and not the real amount pocketed by the producer. After deducting entertainment tax (35%), the gross collection reduces; the exhibitor’s share of 49-52% (depending on the week) from the new amount further brings down the producer’s share. It is rare when a producer manages a profit on his film.

In an increasingly competitive film business, it is left to be seen how many films truly qualify as “100-crore” successes in the years to come.

100 Crore club movies of 2012:

EK THA TIGER tops the list by grossing a whooping amount of 198 crore in India. An action film from Yash Raj banner was an instant hit with the audience. It joined the list of Rs. 100 Crore in just six days.

AGNEEPATH. It was the first movie of the year to cross the 100 crore mark. For Hrithik Roshan, Agneepath emerged as the first film in all probability to reach the magic figure of 100 crore.

HOUSEFULL 2. It was a melange of comedy, a situational comedy rather from the baton of Sajid Khan with such props as a crocodile and idiosyncratic comedy of Johny Lever and an story line that was thin as a wafer, but reached the benchmark on account of the reactions arising out of the situations which kept the audience regaled and producers went laughing all the way to the bank. For Akshay Kumar it was his first 100 crore film for the year.

ROWDY RATHORE. Akshay Kumar followed the success of HOUSEFULL 2 with an action film in ROWDY RATHORE, returning to his forte of action and the street fights and the rustic humour, along with rural peppering of the location with feudalism and goondaism displayed in profuse abundance, ROWDY RATHORE created a rowdy collection of 100 crore in just a matter of time.

BOL BACHCHAN. Rohit Shetty turned to humour again, bringing in the modern adaptation of GOLMAAL, with Ajay Devgn being his lucky mascot and Abhishek Bachchan in a double role, BOL BACHCHAN also enticed the audience to create a honeymoon with it and facilitate it to reach the magic figures of 100 crore. For Abhishek Bachchan it was for the first time in his acting career that his film touched the magic figures of 100 crore.

BARFI! One would never have thought that an unconventional film like BARFI! where the lead actor Ranbir Kapoor did not utter a dialogue and played the role of a character who cannot speak also reach magical figures of 100 crore. But its success underlined the fact that in India if issues are dealt with in a sensitive manner box office success is no big deal. This also could have been facilitated by young viewing audience.

JAB TAK HAI JAAN. Probably as a fitting tribute to the showman of Hindi cinema Yash Chopra, JTHJ also made its entry into the exalted club of 100 crore and underlined the fact that romance continues to be the driving force for the audience of Hindi cinema to march in droves into cinema halls to see Shah Rukh Khan charm the ladies once again! Was the kiss that SRK did for the first time on screen also a contributory factor, well jury is out.

SON OF SARDAAR. Though SOS was involved in an acrimonious controversy with JTHJ, all should now be forgotten as it also did the business of 100 crore and is still going strong. One also hopes that the piquant situation that Kajol found herself in, rather an existentialist dilemma to choose between a husband and a banner-YRF that gave her the stature that she now commands, would be a thing of the past.

In the end one can say that there were 8 films that did a business of 100 crore each and one only hopes that in 2013 this number increases by 50 per cent. Obviously these figures have been achieved owing to some smart marketing strategies, but all is fair in love and war and to catch eyeballs it is World War-III that is being waged by the producers and distributors.

Research Design:

Research Questions:

  1. Are these 100 crore club movies really worth the 100 crore rupees?
  2. Are these movies content driven or mass driven?
  3. Are these mass entertainers decreasing the importance of good cinema?
  4. Has it come down just to revenue collecting and hitting big at the box office?

Hypothesis:
100 Crore Club; good for business but bad for Cinematic art. It is definitely attracting money towards profit but not quality. Movies are being made keeping in mind the target of 100 Crore rupees, scripts are being written with not much versatility. The easiest formulae are being in applied in film making, that they are going to fetch them a lot of money. Day by day, it is becoming less about Cinema and more about business. No matter however criticized the movie is, it still manages to cross over 100 Crores. For example: Son of Sardar.

This frenzy to be a part of the 100 Crore Club is slowly killing actual Cinema.

References:

http://www.ndtv.com/topic/rs-100-crore-club

http://filmigirl.blogspot.in/2012/07/100-crore-club-introduction.html

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Brunch/Brunch-Stories/Bollywood-s-100-crore-club/Article1-864033.aspx

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/cinema/the-rs-100cr-club/article2684021.ece

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-growing-100-crore-club/982101/3

http://forbesindia.com/blog/business-strategy/journey-of-the-100-crore-bollywood-film/

http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/metroplus/getting-to-the-100crore-club/article3968418.ece

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Photo Essay: Ladies Coupe by Shreya Shetty

Posted on 04 June 2013 by BMMBoxer

– By Shreya Shetty, Sophia College

I present this Photo-Essay in a very intimate and personal form, exactly in the way I’d see people or their experiences. I name this essay ‘Ladies Coupé’ after being inspired by novelist Anita Nair who has written a book which is titled so. But this essay focuses on the various moments women, as travelers, face throughout their journey. Eve-teasing, frustrations, being scared, being happy, are a few moments I’ve tried to capture of the daily commuters of the Western Railway, Mumbai Local. This is a whole different level of Candid photography! The crowds, the women, their priceless expressions and the daily photography sessions helped me see traveling in a completely different light. Hope you enjoy my work!

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Photo Essay: Simplicity by Vinod Talreja, KCBMM

Posted on 28 May 2013 by BMMBoxer

Hi,

I am Vinod Talreja KC-BMM. I am doing photography from almost a year and a half now and I aspire to be a photojournalist in one of the best newspapers in the country. I am no good at writing and photographs are my way of expressing myself. I believe photographs can be used as powerful means of communication. My picture of the broken egg-shell was a part of my photo story on female foeticide. Most of the photographs seen here comprise of simple things that are many a times neglected by us. Enjoy!

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Photo Essay – Meri Mumbai by Shreya Shetty

Posted on 11 May 2013 by BMMBoxer

I hear people often saying things like “He/she is so ignorant, living in a bubble”, “Get out of your bubble”, “Come to me when that happy bubble bursts” and so on… But what I can only manage to say is I live in my imperfect, little beautiful bubble. Trying and trying harder with every passing day to know more and be more.  Bombay being my very own tiny, imperfect, beautiful bubble.  This city is where I’ve been born and brought up, it’s my very own. The City, the lights, the Padmini Taxis, the chaotic traffic scene, the architecture, the Pav, the people, the sky line, this ity has my heart and it is my soul.  So this one’s to the city that’s given me my all. This one’s to the city that is so much more. Have a look, maybe this city will have your heart to. Meri Bombay, it’s my little bubble.

I walk on skies and float in the air.
I trip but I don’t fall because my city takes care.
I have cutting chai and maska pav, well that’s how my morning begins.
With all the junk food here, I’m surely never getting thin.
Causeway and Hill road, they are my shopping therapy
When I get sad there’s always Sunlight to go get tipsy.
Well, that’s all I have, my sad attempt at rhyme.
But you get the drift, it’s this city, it makes me want to shine.

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Why BMM?

Posted on 09 May 2013 by BMMBoxer

— Devina Sethia, TYBMM, Sophia College

Have you ever experienced eating a buffet lunch with an endless spread of items to choose from? Thai dishes. Japanese Sushi’s. Punjabi tadka. Et el. (your mouth is already watering, I suppose.)  Have you ever tasted everything on the platter and then realised you fancied a particular cuisine?

You must be wondering why I am talking about buffet lunches here. Well, because Bachelor’s in Mass Media (BMM) is just like the buffet lunch. BMM is the course that will give you the taste, flavour and feel of as many as 36 subjects including Cinema, Public Relations, Advertising, Journalism, Marketing etc.  BMM as an undergraduate degree course will open up innumerable avenues for your career that you can choose from. Film-making, Print Journalism, Public Relations, Radio, Television, Advertising, Event Management, Photography and the list goes on!

In today’s world, films are being made on true incidents reported by the journalists. Advertisers are joining hands with film-makers and film-stars to promote and sell their product. Radio is broadcasting news as well as entertainment. I hope these instances mentioned above are enough to make you understand that all these different branches of media are inter-linked and inter-connected. Having the knowledge of all aspects of media will help you enhance your talent and skill in the field of media that you choose to pursue. Hence, one can say that BMM is as good if not better than any specialised degree course. Let me give you an instance to further explain my point. Two interns were hired by a print media firm. Intern A was a second year BMM student and Intern B was a second year English Hons. student. Intern A managed to get two by-line feature articles to her credit during the month long internship. One article required research while the other needed interview skills. On the other hand, intern B could not even manage a single one. The reason was not that she was not good enough or did not have the potential. The reason was that it took her sometime to understand how to research, how to interview and how to report. Intern A did not face any such trouble having studied ‘Mass Media Research’ and ‘Reporting’ as a part of her course.

Passion. Passion to find answers. Passion to seek the truth. Passion to entertain. Passion for media.  Passion. This is the one and only and surely the most important pre-requisite one must have before joining the media course. Your passion for any field of the media is the only thing that will help you cope up with the stress that comes along in the course. Yes, there will be stress. A little bit of it. I’m not scaring you, it is just that I’m just informing you. So, should you not take up this course because it’s stressful? No way. Should you take up this course because you’re passionate about the media? Yes. Should you take up this course because you want to explore as many possibilities as you can? Yes, please take up this course.

If you think you can work with the camera or in front of it, if you think you enjoy being back stage, if you love writing, if you want to be the next big journalist, then I think BMM is the place for you.

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The BMMBox XI

Posted on 19 April 2013 by BMMBoxer

T-20 cricket fever has gripped the country again! As cities battle against each other and international + domestic cricketers unite, the madness levels are only going up multiple notches. Not to be left behind, we have picked our BMMBox XI. You think our team has it to win? Who would you select in your team and whom would you leave out? Do tell!

1-Chris Gayle (West Indies, Royal Challengers Bangalore)

Why he is awesome – He can destroy opposition bowlers and rip them apart but still be the coolest guy on the field. He hits a six every nine balls and makes a bowler regret their career choice every four balls. Decent off-spin bowler but his post-wicket celebrations are a spectacle in itself. If ever there was a title for “Mr. T20”, he sure would win it hands down.

2-Sachin Tendulkar (India, Mumbai Indians)

Why he is awesome – Almost 40, but no one can dare discount the little master. The entire stadium cheers for him regardless of what team they support. You really don’t need me to tell you why Sachin Tendulkar is awesome though. He might not be at his best in this format but we as Indians always want ‘God’ to be part of every cricketing occasion

3-Virat Kohli (India, Royal Challengers Bangalore)

Why he is awesome – Amongst the best batsmen from India’s next generation of players, Kohli oozes class and confidence.  Despite his reputation, Kohli is dead serious about his game. While he is not quite as aggressive as Gayle, on his day, Kohli can demolish opposition bowlers just as efficiently.

4-MS Dhoni (India, Chennai Super Kings)

Why he is awesome – Captain Cool,  Dhoni is an automatic choice for captain. Dhoni simply knows what it takes to win the IPL plus he is the only person who would be capable enough to handle such an extra-ordinary team.  Dhoni’s abilities with the bat alone would get him on this team and when he starts unfurling those trade-mark helicopter shots, there is very little that can halt him.

5-AB deVilliers (South Africa, Royal Challengers Bangalore)

Why he is awesome – A wicket-keeper batsman who has every shot in the book. His audacious stroke play always leaves bowlers guessing what he will do next.  He is a prolific run-scorer who adapts to any situation and gets his team to the finish line in crunch situations.  Extra-ordinary athleticism behind the wickets or in the outfield makes him indispensable in this form of the game.

6-Shane Watson (Australia, Rajasthan Royals)

Why he is awesome – If all-rounders is what one is looking for, Shane Watson is right there on top among the best in the world. A destructive batsman and an equally potent medium pacer he surely can win games on his own. Watson is a true 360 degree player.

7-Keiron Pollard (West Indies, Mumbai Indians)

Why he is awesome – When Pollard gets going, no stadium is big enough for him. Always a contender for the biggest sixes of the season, Pollard’s hitting is just as renowned for its frequency as for its brutality. Pollard can also bowl some surprisingly good medium pace and he chips in with a few wickets here and there. In the outfield, he is unbeatable though and some of his catches defy gravity.

8-Ravichandran Ashwin (India, CSK)

Why he is awesome – T20 may not be a bowlers game but it does not seem to matter for Ravichandran Ashwin . Ashwin has all the tricks in his armoury and he is not afraid to use them. A paragon of parsimony, Ashwin really hates having to give runs and maintains a tight line and length. Batsmen trying to break free of his grip usually find themselves back in the pavilion quickly.

9-Dale Steyn (South Africa, Sun Risers Hyderabad)

Why he is awesome – Dale Steyn is currently the best fast bowler in the world, period. He has it all, pace, accuracy, variations, aggression and an intimidating stare. He has been terrorising batsmen for the last 9 years now while racking up the best statistics in the business and this IPL season doesn’t look like it would be any different.

10- Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka, Mumbai Indians)

Why he is awesome – With his bowling action, Malinga’s deliveries shouldn’t land anywhere near the pitch let alone the stumps but Malinga hits the wickets more often than any other bowler in this tournament. His slinging action makes his deliveries difficult to pick up. Add a devastating slower ball to the mix and you get a perfect T20 bowler.

11- Sunil Narine (West Indies, KKR)

Why he is awesome – West Indies does not have a vibrant tradition of spin but that did not stop Sunil Narine from taking a big bunch of wickets at the domestic and international level. A surprise pick at last year’s IPL, where he was picked up for $700,000, Narine’s stellar performance made him look like a bargain. This year, we might see a lot more wizardry from the pointy-haired west Indian.

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Creative Writing – Continuum by Smriti Parikh, SYBMM, Sophia College

Posted on 27 March 2013 by BMMBoxer

They have gone. The room is empty. She is not at all sure that she understands. He has decided everything without even giving her a chance to speak. It is only the stale, cold, unmoving air that tells Ayesha that she is now alone.

In her head, the words still reverberated. “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! DON’T WANT ANYONE’S ADVICE OR SYMPATHY! SHE ISN’T DYING OKAY? SHE IS VERYMUCH ALIVE AND VERY MUCH CAPABLE OF DOING EVERYTHING BETTER THAN YOU AND I! I WANT EVERYONE OUT OF OUR HOUSE RIGHT NOW!” He yelled. First time in the whole of eight years that she had known him, he yelled. Even in his anger he cared for her. He hadn’t changed.

When the air failed to move for a few more minutes, she whispered, “Sameer?” She strained her ears to listen to the shuffle of his feet, even his exasperated sigh, but there was nothing. She was alone, her and darkness, for the first time in two months.

It had been two months now since Ayesha had lost her eyesight. One fateful day had changed the way Ayesha looked at her life. In fact, it barred her from looking at anything at all. It was the 26th of March and it had been raining on their anniversary like always. Sameer was singing in his croaky voice when out of nowhere another bike cut their way and Sameer lost control of his own bike. In a moment, the world turned upside down and Ayesha slid all the way down the flyover with the bike on top of her. Sameer remained motionless on the top, unconscious. When he opened his eyes he saw everyone staring at him with moist pupils but his wife. Soon enough he was told that Ayesha had suffered a traumatic head injury which had damaged her retinal muscles completely. It struck the daylights out of Sameer to know that Ayesha, the only person who mattered to her, will never be able to see the light of day.

Ayesha had taken it in a different stride all together. She was dejected and angry at the same time but she never blamed Sameer. She knew that it wasn’t his fault. She knew he would never hurt her even in her dreams. But those first few weeks were gruesome.

After waking up every morning, she would lie in her bed for ages, trying to stretch her eyelids apart with all her might, hoping that maybe if she tore her iris apart by pushing them hard enough, she will be able to see a tiny speck of light one morning. Tired, she would get up; put her feet down on the ground to find her slippers at the same bloody place every day. Furious, she would kick them only to convince herself that she will be able to find them again. Some days she would, some days she would fail and most of the days she ended up crying. She would feel nervous when she would feel Sameer’s piercing gaze at her back, the only man who would pray that may she walk to the bathroom without stumbling into the furniture; furniture which disappeared every day, one piece at a time, just like Ayesha’s passion. She would feel ashamed when Sameer would strip her to give her a bath and excited when his fingers would run down her spine. She would be frustrated every time Sameer would sigh at her naked beauty and angry when he decided against making love to his blind wife. When Sameer would leave for work, Ayesha would sit in front of the muted TV. She would continue staring at it till Sameer came home and would only move when he lifted her up to feed her. She often wondered whether Sameer cried when he saw her scribbling random letters on a paper, when he saw her genius slip away in vain with each drop of ink. At night, Ayesha couldn’t differentiate between her dream and her reality. Because all she ever saw now, was black.

After three weeks, Ayesha had accustomed herself to everything ‘new’. She got used to the stumbling and the black holes in her life while Sameer continued his occasional sobbing through the night. Until one night when Ayesha bared herself to him, took his hand and put it on her breasts. She knew Sameer wanted to love her and she knew she wanted to be loved. As the night dropped down so did her inhibition and the fear that Sameer did not love her anymore. The bodies melted together in unison as the hot summer sky ignited their passions even more. Next morning the slippers weren’t where they should be and Ayesha was happy.

Ayesha began familiarizing herself to her own house. At ten steps to the front was her dresser and at 27 to the right was her bathroom. She had started cooking too. In a week she figured out how her OCD-struck mind had organized the whole kitchen. Her hours of sitting idle in front of the TV were replaced by her obsession, writing. Her whole existence had found meaning in those five hours when she would write for her online magazine. She found happiness in doing things that she would have found tiresome otherwise. She would go to dinner every Sunday with Sameer. She started listening to things which no one else could hear. The chirp of the bird in the cacophonic city life of Bombay, the click of the lock at 6.15 sharp every evening when Sameer would come, the periodic dripping sound of water echoing through the house, and the soft ‘tsk’ of Sameer’s kiss on her lips. Every sound meant something to her now. For her, everything that was simple earlier had become complex except for her life. Overnight, a complex whole of her had become so simple that she no longer recognized herself.

Sameer too had realized that Ayesha was the same person if not physically different. The sway of her hips was still breathtaking and her hair left the same fragrance in every room she had stepped into. Her food had the same phenomenal taste and her eyes…well her eyes were deeper now. As vacant as they looked, they held so much of meaning. As much sorrow as they held within them, they still managed to make him laugh every time they crinkled at the edges. If possible he had fallen in love with this new Ayesha who had embraced life in her own unique way.

Together both of them wove themselves into a comfortable routine of life. Everything continued to go on as normally as it could till two days ago.

Ayesha stood in front of the mirror, gazing at something she could not even see. Her hand stuck to her belly. It was 6.10. Five more minutes and Sameer was to come home. She had never been more scared and excited at the same time. Tik. Tok. Tik. Tok. Each second punctuated her life. Click. She could hear his footsteps approaching. There was a certain bounce in them, she decided. Her heart dove deeper and deeper. Finally Sameer’s touch, he hugged her from behind and whispered, “You’re pregnant!”

The entire world came to a standstill. She could hear his smile but she could hear the scream of her own heart as well. She was joyous, no doubt, this was what she always wanted, but things were different back then. She clutched her stomach and sat on the ground. She couldn’t breathe for one more minute. She let out a piercing wail and hugged her own knees. For her it was almost like fire licking her already charred soul. To know that you will never be able to see your own child, it had to be God’s cruel game.

Sameer, confused and befuddled, asked what happened. How would he know? How could Ayesha tell that she was jealous of her own husband? Thick tears trickled down her cheek and onto his shirt as she held onto her husband tightly. Sameer’s hand went down to her belly, an action that invited belligerence. She pushed him away, got up and walked towards the bathroom. In that moment of utter grief, her quantum Physics had gone so awry. All the paths she had familiarized herself to were stranger today. She collided into every single piece of furniture. Each collision marked her defeat, yet again.

Scared, Sameer called up, her parents first and then his, to give them the news of the baby. Similar reactions of anger followed. The next two days Ayesha stayed stuck in front of the mirror, her hand rubbing the stomach and her eyes crying. She practiced opening and closing eyes to confirm her blindness. Only tears rolled out. Sometimes she wondered why she could even cry now that she had already lost her eyes. Sameer didn’t bother Ayesha too. He maintained his distance. For the first time in eight years he was unable to decipher Ayesha. He couldn’t think of why she would be sad when all she ever wanted was a baby.

Two days later, the parents stood at the door. Ayesha was wrapped in her mother’s arms. Anxious advices flew into her ears. Ayesha remained silent, answering in her own head.

“Don’t have the baby Aishu.”

Why.

“How will you take care of it?”

Just like everyone else does.

“You cannot see.”

I know, but how does it matter? I still have a heart. Didn’t you know that I was not well without even seeing my face?

“How will you manage?”

Like a normal human being. I AM A NORMAL HUMAN BEING!

In the other room Sameer’s parents ranted out their woes and worries. They oscillated between the concern of their own child and Ayesha. “What will happen to your future beta? With Ayesha’s condition you will have to be at home for the baby most of the time. And not only that, how will Ayesha run through the house when the baby cries? A mother should always be there on her toes for her child, will Ayesha be able to do that? Sameer, you have a job, you are the only earning member of your family. How will this work out? As much as we are happy about Ayesha’s pregnancy, we don’t want you to go ahead with it. Drop it son.”

That was it. It was his life. He had called them to celebrate not to deliberate. He stood up, went to Ayesha held her hand, let out a sigh and yelled, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I DON’T WANT ANYONE’S ADVICE OR SYMPATHY! SHE ISN’T DYING OKAY? SHE IS VERYMUCH ALIVE AND VERY MUCH CAPABLE OF DOING EVERYTHING BETTER THAN YOU AND I! I WANT EVERYONE OUT OF OUR HOUSE RIGHT NOW!”

Ayesha came back to the present. Her heart felt contended. She had decided. One more time she whispered, “Sameer?” This time he heard her. Ayesha heard the heavy feet dragging across the room.

Ayesha spoke, “I am ready.”

Sameer was not really sure if he understood what she meant.

Ayesha continued, “I am ready to have this baby. If you believe that I am capable of doing all things better than anyone else then I should be. I trust you Sameer.”

Ayesha could not see, but she knew that Sameer was crying. A tear dropped down from his cheek on Ayesha’s foot. She moved a step forward, blindly. She stretched her hands to hold onto her husband, the only person who still thought of her, as her. He held onto her almost immediately. Her hands moved up to the familiar territory of Sameer’s wet face. She wiped the tears and kissed him on his cheek. He did not know what to say. A vacuum had formed around both of them. Voids created by the past were being filled by the news of the present.

He whispered thank you in her ear and clutched onto his wife tighter, seeking solace in her when she herself was searching for comfort in him. They both complemented each other, like always. Like they did from the first time he said, “Will you…” and before he could complete she had said “YES!” and like they did when on their first night together they realized that they fit in each other’s craters perfectly.

They stood still on the same spot, embracing their lives. For in that moment, they both understood that they are never alone.

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She had unfolded the letter.

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Short Story: The Catcher Saying Goodbye

Posted on 08 March 2013 by BMMBoxer

By Merryl Fernandes, SYBM, Sophia College

In a moment it was over. The thing was done. She did not look back but kept on walking. All she wanted now was to move on. All the anger and helplessness that had built up with every fight of theirs, every hurtful thing she had kept from him previously, everything that she had stored inside her from a long time was all out. She knew she had hurt him severely. But instead of feeling guilty, she felt peace, the kind of peace one experiences when they finally are all alone. She knew the guilt would come soon. But right now, the feeling of not caring about anyone in the world over ruled all the other feelings.

She had pushed away the one person who meant the most to her. But despite the relief and peace she had finally achieved, she felt blank and empty. She handled her daily chores and responsibilities with an aloofness and indifference. She did not feel the need of being around anyone but herself. She kept playing back the scenes of the happy times that they had spent together, laughing, joking and caring for each other. These memories were always at the back of her mind. They seemed like incidents from someone else’s life. It was like she was just an audience, watching something perfect turn to dust right before her very eyes. She knew he had hurt her a lot more than she could have ever imagined, but there was no possible thing he could ever do that would make her hate him. She knew that to be a fact. And she hoped it was the same for him despite of how she had chosen to end things.

Richa had just returned back to Mumbai, the city she had hated until now, for it had always separated her from the ones she loved. She had come here to pursue her dream of becoming a Journalist. The city therefore had nothing to offer her more than a degree and a few people who pretended to care. Coming from a small city where everyone cared about one another, and life was simpler, she just found it impossible to cope with the fast paced life of the metro. Now that she was back, she was determined to concentrate on her work and make her life easier to deal with. She had decided to complete all her work on time and keep herself so busy that she wouldn’t have the time or energy to let the reality of what she had done get to her. Escapism was her favourite way of dealing with the things she did not want to associate herself with and this was the time when she needed it the most.

Escapism was her favourite way of dealing with things

Escapism was her favourite way of dealing with things

It was her first night back and the thought of going to college the next morning for once made her excited. So far her attempts to keep her mind from going back to some of the sweetest memories of her life had been successful and she was pretty confident that once she would start her classes, her life would feel all normal once again. She slept peacefully throughout the night and woke up fresh and excited for college. She hurriedly got ready and walked to the bus stop. Within ten minutes, she was on the bus and happily listening to songs when suddenly the lyrics of ‘fall for you’ blasted on her headphones. The memories of the summer holidays that had begun like a fairy tale all came crashing down on her..

She remembered the happiness and joy she had felt as she was going back home, back to him and all those close to her. As she had packed her bags and boarded her train, eyes sparkling with anticipation, all she could think about, was the surprise that he would get when he would see her in front of him when he was least expecting it. She had kept the whole thing a surprise from all her friends, a surprise they had absolutely loved. She imagined being with him after he would get done with college and all the places that they would go to and all the people they would meet. She just couldn’t wait to see him and smell the air that had fragranced her childhood days. Finally she would be back to the city she loved for three whole amazing months.

Finally she would be back to the city she loved for three whole amazing months.

Finally she would be back to the city she loved for three whole amazing months.

But then he had gone and ruined everything. He had let her come in between when it had been the last thing that she had ever expected. Let the stranger make him vulnerable, in a way that only she could. That had just been the death of her and their relationship. How could he have expected to replace her with someone he had just met? When she had told him about her insecurities, he had just laughed it off as if it meant nothing to him. As if he had never cared. As if everything they had, had never mattered to him in the face of this new entry into his life. He assured her that things between them would never change and they would remain best friends no matter what. But it was all the sweetest of lies.  She had tried her best to accept it, tried to ignore the changes in his behaviour. Every time he spoke about this stranger, this good-for nothing tramp that had entered their lives, she had just wanted to harm things, maybe even herself. It had hurt her slowly to the point that she hadn’t been able to take it anymore, till she decided that she had to end it.

...till she decided that she had to end it.

...till she decided that she had to end it.

She still remembered clearly all the sleepless nights she had spent to make sure she could end her pain in the best way possible. She could recall all those memories as if they had happened yesterday. Like drops in the pouring rain, they reminded her of how she meticulously planned and plotted. It had to be done and it had to be done perfectly. That was her main aim and sole goal.  Her happiness depended solely on it, and she saw no other way out. Her escape routes had but shrunk to one. She had spent hours planning and convincing herself that he deserved it. She told herself over and over again that she would be doing him a favour by ending it. Letting it go into the black oblivion that was nothingness.  He wouldn’t be stuck with the painful job of making a choice. She knew that he was never very good with picking a side and sticking with it. She just knew her ending it would be the best for everyone involved. Sure they would hurt now, but later they would just thank her for what she had done.

Finally the morning of 9th of March, 2012, had arrived. She still remembered dressing up with extra care and double checking to see if she had all the items she needed with her. Finally, the day when she would win her mental peace back had arrived. She could feel the anticipation of the hunt thrumming under her skin, and the whisper of battle in the marrow of her bones. She knew it was going to be tough, but it was something she had to do. She couldn’t let him hurt her anymore. She didn’t deserve it. And now she would make sure he would pay for all the hurt and helplessness he had made her go through. She remembered getting into the car and driving all the way outside town to meet him. She had asked him to meet her at the place that had been their favourite place to go to whenever they needed to talk things out.

As she took the last turn that would lead to the quiet serene spot halfway up the hill, she steeled herself once again. The car moved on slowly and steadily as she rounded the corner of the last turn before the clearing. In a few minutes she would be with him, probably for the last time if things went the way she had masterfully planned them. She parked the car at the end of the road and picked up her bag from the back seat. Her right hand clutched the object that would bring her the mental peace she deserved inside her bag. She then had just stood there, taking it all in. The green trees had looked fresher than ever, dancing and swaying to the music like noise created by the winds as they hurried off to faraway lands. It was almost like they knew she was going to be freed soon and were hence rejoicing for her.  She felt like dancing with them too. The more she looked at the dancing leaves, the more determined she was to be carefree and happy like them once again. She stood there smiling to herself when he crept up from behind and hugged her. She returned the hug and pulled him to their spot under the banyan tree. He light heartedly commented on a few things not knowing what was coming next. She stood there, next to him, holding on to the dagger with all the strength she had. He went on blabbering about his day and anything and everything remotely. With every word he had said, she wished he had been good to her. She wished for them that things could be like before. But this time she knew she had to be strong for herself.

Her eyes threatened to reveal her weakness as the sky turned a darker shade of blue. She knew the time had arrived and as the seconds passed, she was unsure of whether she could go ahead with it. She decided to count to three in her head and then she would just do the needful.

One.. Two.. Three..

She remotely remembered him slapping her playfully towards the end, right before she took out the knife and stabbed him right in the chest. His eyes were full of shock as he had looked into her eyes. She then had looked into his eyes and told him that she would always love him and by killing him she was killing a part of herself too. But she had done what she had felt was the best for them. She had then dragged him over to the edge of the hill and pushed him over, away from her, away from the world for good. She remembered standing there for an hour after, just staring into thin air, considering killing herself too. But then she realised that he would have never wanted her to harm herself and would want her to live happily.

..told him that she would always love him and by killing him she was killing a part of herself too.

..told him that she would always love him and by killing him she was killing a part of herself too.

She had turned away from the edge with all the will power she had left. Just as she reached over to pick up her bag from the spot she had dropped it earlier, she noticed a blue envelope with a heart on it lying right next to where he had been sitting. She picked it up, afraid of what she would see inside. With trembling fingers she had hurriedly opened the envelope. She had found a pretty stone ring attached to a sheet of paper. She had unfolded the letter..

She had unfolded the letter.

She had unfolded the letter.

I know things between us have not been going great recently. You seem all the more distant and in your own world every time we meet and talk. This has been confusing me a great deal in the past few weeks and since I couldn’t guess what exactly was upsetting you so much, I decided to write you this letter. I want you to know that I’ll always love you, no matter what, till I die. No one can ever replace you, because no one can know me the way you know me. And that is never going to change. I promise to be there for you whenever you need me. You know you can come to me with whatever is hurting you and I swear I’ll try my best to make it all right. You will always be my best friend and my first love, and I want you to remember this at all times. I hope you’ll tell me soon what is going on with you so we can make you feel better. Call me when you’re ready to talk about it. I’ll be waiting.


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