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The clinking of glasses, rustling of newspapers and gossip interspersed with an outbreak of loud laughter. Manoj, popularly known as Munna Chaiwala had started another day with a clang of the ladle against the walls of the blackening vessel and brewing sweet Adrak Chai. This life would have been a mundane routine for most Chaiwalas but not for him. His Shankar Vilas Tea Stall stood right across the road from Yash Raj Studios. There was enough Filmy gossip in the air, to keep him grinning and his heart thumping with excitement. Like at many other occasions, once more the paparazzi stood near his counter. One of them lost between the glamorous lines on page 3 of the morning’s Mumbai Times.
Tarun was standing there admiring his article on pg. 3 with his name in the byline and scouring the rest for some news from Bollywood that he didn’t want to miss out on! They were all waiting outside Yash Raj Studios for an entry into the promotional event of ‘Badmaash Company’. Tarun sipped on the cutting chai from the quaint short glass and wondered whether he would be lucky enough that day to have a quick tête à tête with Shahid Kapoor. That would boost his career in another direction!
Folding his newspaper back Tarun looked up at the lanky and tawny Munna in his late 20s’ dressed in a simple white, sleeveless vest, worn over a checkered Lungi, wrapped tightly around his thin waist. The heat from the boiling cauldron on the stove had left beads of sweat on his temple and as he wiped it off with the back of his hand, Munna’s eyes met Tarun’s.
“What do you add to this tea, Munna? It’s addictive!” Tarun poked fun at the ever-grinning Munna to get a prompt retort back “LOVE!”
Munna was famous for his sense of humor and ready wit. Also his immense love for Bollywood went unhidden.
“You are truly affected by Bollywood aren’t you? This love you speak of. Have you experienced it for yourself Munna? These sets at the studio are so colorful, I’m sure you must have come across more than one love story sparking off here!”
Tarun needed to while away some time, so he tried to make conversation with Munna.
“Bas kya, saab!” replied Munna smugly.
There was hardly any hero from Bollywood whom he’d not served his Masala Chai. And neither did any hot gossip ever escape his ears. Munna knew their stories In & Out, True or False!
“I have even found my own love at that very studio!”
Munna seemed to be in an exceptionally peppy and talkative mood this morn’ and had come forth with an update on his own love life.
Breaking off to pour the Adrak Chai into a kettle, Munna instructed his attendant to carry it into the Studios along with a tray of empty glasses to serve it. Replacing the wet rag perched on his shoulder with a cleaner, dry cloth, Munna returned to Tarun’s end of the stall, humming, “Teri kaali ankhiyon se jind meri jaage,
Dhadkan se tej daudu, sapno se aagey…”
“ Aaah, you surely are in love, my man!” laughed Tarun. He was amused, imagining Munna in love with one of the glamorous Bollywood heroines.
“ That’s my favorite subject you are raising, so I warn you, if I start talking it’ll take some time to wrap this conversation off!” laughed Munna.
Tarun refused to let go off the subject. The journo’ within him was yearning to hear a love story from the horse’s mouth.
“Tell me more about your lady love now, my man! Who is she?”
And Munna began to narrate his tryst with love in Bollywood.
“That day instead of Bholu I went to serve tea on the sets of Om Shanti Om. Which fool lets go off a chance to see Shahrukh Khan in person? They were shooting for the famous Dhoom Taana Ta Dum Ta Na Na Na song. Deepika, tall and lissome walked onto the sets in an Indian Desi Apsara Avatar.”
“And you fell in love with her!” rebuked Tarun at the highly predictable story being narrated.
This comment was however lost on Munna. He had already travelled back in time to the elaborate sets with huge, larger than life Tablas, like in old movies. Smoke, flowers and Apsaras in colourful garments and beautiful jewellery danced about. Deepika as Shanti Priya was dancing and preening before the camera. The song in the background went Kaise? Nainon Se Nain Milaooon Sajna, Kaise? Mein Aise Na Ghabraoon Sajna?”
“Everything was so beautiful, dream-like and romantic!” said Munna, trying to describe the joy he had found in being at such a glamorous setting.
… And you were smitten, right?!” Tarun snapped at Munna in disappointment that it was yet another obsessed fan narrating his hopeless love story!
“Yes! Exactly behind Deepika, dancing amongst the extras in the background was an extremely beautiful girl with doe-like eyes. Our eyes met and my heart began to sing along with the song,
Mrignayanee Tu Na Jane, Prem Kitna Mere Maan Mein Hai.”
Munna had caught her kohl lined eyes taking a quick look at him, more than once. And his heart melted with glee! Then she’d get back to the dancing, with full concentration. She completed the dance routine so effortlessly, gracefully and flawlessly that Munna’s heart was rolling at her feet.
“I wished the director hadn’t called out “CUT!” I could go on watching her like that forever and ever but he did and the show ended! I wanted to go up to her and tell her that it was she whose beauty had it all.
Tere Rang Mein Hai Roop, Tere Roop Mein Hai Dhoop
Ye Dhoop Hai Anoop, Gori Yeee!”
“Wow, now you are talking! Munna you are indeed a true romantic at heart! So, did you go and express your feelings to your lady love?”
Munna enumerated how in the days that followed he had started visiting the sets of Om Shanti Om himself. He had also befriended the spot boy in hope of getting some information about that particular girl from the dance troupe but to no avail!
The next song would be shot in another couple of days but nobody had any idea whether the same troupe was hired. News was that there would be only gori mems in the next song sequence. Just when he was about to lose all hope, Munna spotted the same curly haired petite dancer again at the sets of Dard-E-Disco. The happiness in his heart knew no bounds!
He returned to the sets with rejuvenated interest and with bigger kettles of piping hot, sweet, kadak chai! Munna Chaiwala also declared that the tea was on the house, especially for all the background artists in appreciation of their hard work and talent. He hoped that this trick would make her sit up and take notice of him once again. It also meant more access to the green rooms where he had more chances of getting a closer glimpse of her.
However unfortunately she was dancing at the sets again by the time Munna had arrived with the tea. He had to wait and watch!
The Dard-E-Disco song was a miracle! It was as if Javed saab had not only written the lyrics for Shahrukh Khan but it also fit his story like pat!
Woh haseena woh neelam pari,
Kar gayee kaisi jadoogaree!
Neend in aankhon se cheen li hai,
Dil mein bechainiyan hai bhari ….
Munna had felt the love and longing for this beautiful girl tug at his heart with every word being crooned…
Dil mein mere hai Dard-E-disco, Dard-E-disco, Dard-E-disco...
“Like our pakka Bollwood hero I was ready to take on anything to get to her, to let her know that I was in love with her.
Lamha lamha aarmano ki pharmaish thi
Lamha lamha jurrat ki aazmaish thi..”
By now Tarun had been taken up by Munna’s love story and was dying to know the climax of all the buildup.
“So what happened finally? Did you meet with her? Did you tell her?” Tarun enquired anxiously.
For a flickering minute Munna gave a despondent look but in the very next moment that grin came back. With a note of positive hope in his voice Munna replied,
“ Itni shiddat se maine unhe paane ki koshish ki hai
ki har zarre ne mujhe unse milane ki koshish ki hai!
Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaaho toh poori kaynath tumhein usse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai.
Kehte hain ki filmon ki tarah hamari zindagi mein bhi end tak sab theek hee ho jaata hai.
Happy is endings
Aur agar theek naa ho toh woh THE END nahi.
Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!"
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