This story traces way back to those days when Channel V played music; to days when Umesh headbanged to Viva and Aasma; when love was a mistake; when Pepsi had a colour similar to that of Neytiri's skin; when Wasim Akram was still a force to reckon and Shahid Afridi was into his 10th year of being 18 years of age. 2004 it was. Umesh, Shobhan, Nishad and myself were completing our higher secondary studies.
Shobhan Adhikari, born to a Bengali family, was still Mallu at heart, taste, dressing but most of all, he was Mallu in the head. I still remember the day he spelled Ajit as Ajith and Umesh had that Benny Hinn smirk on his face. Nishad meanwhile, was a blackbox. Feed him variables, he will process them and won't tell you what he felt about it, what he does about it, whether it's right or wrong. Nothing. With Shobhan being an aspiring Malayali, Umesh and me drooling daily over Bhavana Menon and arguing with the organisers of our college fashion show to use the song from the movie "Mishamadhavan" instead of a Moby classic as background music, we thought that Nishad always felt out of place. His Maharashtrian self, it seemed, restricted itself from opening to know South Indian liking, ideologies, ideals and beliefs. Maybe I was overthinking. Maybe not.
Our preliminary exams were about to begin. We always believed that our collaboration as a unit always epitomized true teamwork and selflessness. Umesh and I would always discuss our queries before the exam, after the exam but most of the times during the exam. So one fine day, we decided to collaboratively study for Mathematics at my place; Umesh, Shobhan and Nishad. We decided that Saturday would be the day when we work on achieving Shakuntala Devi like logic which was then lingering between the scale of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. But Saturday it was. Were we willing to give away that one day where we used to witness the act of liberation by Mallu women on Surya at 12:30 AM; where stories portrayed escapades of women (read Shakeela) and their tryst with contemporary romance? It is loosely termed as soft porn but we call it being fearless and bold. We were proud Malayali feminists (including Shobhan Adhikari) believing in liberation of (mallu) women.
Nishad backed out in the last moment stating reasons we couldn't understand but the rest of the gang was at my place at 10:30 PM sharp. The question was still lingering in our thoughts..."Were we willing to give up that one Saturday, which eventually contributed towards our upliftment?". Unanimously we decided that this Saturday would be our last. With books now in the balcony, Shobhan getting the blue coloured Pepsi, Umesh getting 'chakka' chips in order to achieve that mallu ambience and me stuffing the gap between the door and floor with our bedsheets so that not even a trace of doubt hits my parents sleeping right across the hall...we eagerly waited for 12:30.
"Sindhu, Shakeela, Reshma or Maria...what's your pick?", asked Shobhan with proper Malayali diction and giving proper obeisance to BIG names like Shakeela.
12:15 - We spoke about scenes where Maria played the role of a hapless Nurse all set to follow love with reckless abandon, even though the world called it adultery.
12:20 - We spoke about Reshma and that one movie where she breaks all barriers of status, caste, religion as she prowls on a Sadhu.
12:25 - We were in a silent reverie. Upliftment was palpable.
12:30 - Our eyes now waiting for that credits to flash on the screen. None except Umesh could read Malayalam, but Shobhan and I could make out the exact curls that read "Superstar Shakeela".
12:35 - No mention of Super Star Shakeela.
12:37 - Umesh (banging his fists) "PREM NAZEER AND SHEELA??"
12:37 - Shobhan - "New kids on the block?"
12:38 - *Silence*
12:39 - Shobhan - "IT'S A FUCKING BLACK AND WHITE CLASSIC? Don't they show our movies anymore? Try MAA, Udaya, Sun or something"
12:40-12:57 - Prolonged Silence.
12:58 - Umesh - "Burp"
We ended up finishing the blue Pepsi, the plum cake and the chakka chips as we waited with hope to find something after this Prem Nazeer starrer. The movie was three hour long and as a consequence we spent three hours waiting for that flame of hope to die down along with any sense of upliftment.
With heavy eyes, which said 'I'm Shakeela and sleep deprived', we went for our morning (coaching) class. Nishad was there, waiting for us. Our silence continued to remind us about our loss, the society's loss, loss to every Malayali and wannabe Malayalis like Shobhan. Nishad was right there staring at us, wanting to tell us something. Maybe he wanted to mock the mallu in us, maybe he wanted to say he was better off; but just then this wave of silence was obstructed by two words that portrayed agony in its purest form.
"Prem Nazeer?", said Nishad.
The Maharashtrian had it hidden within him. Nishadh had arrived.
We had a thing for curves...all of us. (From Left to right: Nishad, Me, Shobhan and Umesh)
P.S: This event led to other series of events. Shobhan joined the Navy, Nishad went to Xaviers. But the worst hit us. Umesh and I became Engineers.