It seems, Leo Tolstoy once said, ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’.
It’s true and I learned it the hard way.
There was a time when I was doing something I loved – I was a screenwriter, a passionate one at that. I wrote the script and dialogues for many popular Tamil movies. I still look back at that time with fondness and pleasure that only a creative artist could fathom.
It was 15 years back that I challenged my competitor – my nemesis, who used to steal some of the best movies from me. Not that I was in anyway inferior to him – I too snatched away some excellent projects from him. Both of us were good at what we did, but in our own ways.
One movie – one high budget movie – that was destined to become a super hit, changed the equation, forever. Both of us were considered for this all important movie project and frankly, any one of us could have got it. But, I wanted to work on this movie – very badly. Whoever worked in this movie would become popular at the national level (with a Hindi remake on the cards) and there was no way I was going to leave it to him.
I never wanted anything else so much and I was willing to go to any extent to get that project. Looking back, what I did was insane, maybe even silly, but back then it made so much sense. With one stroke, I not only eliminated my competition but also made sure that all the producer’s future projects would be mine.
I ‘fell’ in love with his daughter and married her, shortly afterwards.
I guess he too wanted to work on that particular project, as much as me. At least that’s what I thought when I saw him sitting outside the producer’s office with his head bent down and hands on his forehead. As soon as he saw me, he became furious and started hurling all sorts of expletives on my face. The harsher he chided me, the happier I was, inside. I guess it showed in my face. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he was hurting himself, not me.
But in that instant, in all his fury and rage, he challenged me – “Fifteen years from now, let’s see who is where”. With those words, he left.
At that time, it sounded silly. I was about to become the son-in-law of a rich producer and he was no one. He neither had money, nor influence. I would shortly get both and he would be no match to me.
I was right. I used my skills, money and influence to gain as much ground as possible. He was cornered (partly by me) and was able to work only in small budget movies.
All that was fifteen years back. While things changed so much for me, his world was still the same. Nothing changed, at least not significantly.
I reached his office in my BMW. Actually, it was home-cum-office. He could never afford an office or staff, with the kind of income he got.
On seeing me, he welcomed me inside his house and made me sit on the sofa. He was eating some snacks made by his wife and since I barged in, he gave some of them to me, too.
The dishes were delicious.
“Do you remember the challenge you made before 15 years?” I asked him, without mincing words.
“Oh that! Yes, I do. I guess I made that challenge when I was very angry. I am generally not like that”, he said. He was clearly upset and his unhappiness showed on his face even though he tried his best to hide it.
“So, how are things for you? You have become a big producer now.” he tried to change the topic.
“Yes, things are fine. The BMW car you saw outside is one of the cheaper cars, I own”, I said and looked into his eyes.
He looked down and didn’t reply. I could see he was visibly upset. His wife offered me more snacks, possibly not very happy to see her husband’s predicament and hoping to change the topic, as well.
I took a deep breath, and said, “You won the challenge”.
His eyes glanced towards mine, and for a moment he thought maybe I was joking only to hurt him more, shortly afterwards. His disbelief showed in his face.
But I knew I was not lying. Those words came from my heart.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Do you remember the last movie I wrote the screenplay for? That was ten years back. After I became the producer, even though I wrote the screenplay for a few movies, I had to manage many other things that didn’t allow me any time to write script or dialogue. Slowly I stopped writing.” I said.
I then added, “You are still writing.”
“But you earn so much money. I am just able to manage my daily expenses and save a small amount of money”, he said.
“What else do you need?”, I asked.
“With such limited resources, one cannot be happy”, he said.
“Yes, that’s true. You are unhappy doing something you love and I am unhappy doing something that I hate. That’s the difference between the two of us.” I said and left the place with tears in my eyes. Fortunately, the tears held on until I was seated inside my car. I allowed them to flow freely, once I started driving.
I don’t think he would have fully understood what I tried to convey. He didn’t live my life, after all. At last, I gave what I owed, to him.
PS: This is a work of fiction.