Role Play - Part 1 / Role Play - Part 2 / Role Play - Part 3
Subash dada put back the spotlight on the tub. The AD's camera screen now showed a lifeless naked body in the tub. Satisfied he looked at Atif and smiled.
"Cut!" Atif yelled loud.
Everyone reacted and started doing their chores, but Vishwas stood right beside the tub looking at Sania's pale body. Sweat was tricking down his face and he stood shivering staring at the limp body. It was obvious that Subash dada and the AD were involved in Atif's idea, as they did not even bother to check on Sania. They just left the set to take a break.
Atif sat on his chair with a smile. He had avenged his insult. He slowly got up from his chair and walked towards Vishwas. He held his shoulders and shook him.
"Vishwas, listen. Vishwas. It is okay. Relax, its over. You did good. Great." Atif said looking into his bloodshot eyes.
Vishwas finally stirred. "Ehhh? Its over right? I almost thought she'd pull me into the tub." He said still sounding scared.
Atif hugged him tight. "That was an awesome job my boy. You shall play the lead in my next movie too."
This was enough to get Vishwas back to normal. He smiled and wiped the sweat of his face with the arms of his shirt. Atif put his arms around his shoulder and moved him away from the tub.
"Come, lets go for a smoke." He said happily.
"Sure Sir, but....." Vishwas pointed towards the tub.
"Later. Its not like she's going to die right." He said and laughed aloud.
Vishwas joined in. He felt sadistic joy in doing so. Who cares, he got what he wanted anyway. Another movie with Atif. He was a pleased man.
"We also need to inform Anya that the movie is all hers now. She's an awesome girl." Atif sighed.
Vishwas was surprised. "Her too?" He questioned with an open mouth.
"I didn't ask for it. She came to me two months ago. The next morning she asked me for a role, I said I did not have a script yet. She left angrily but came to me every week to remind me that she's still available for any role." Atif explained in pride.
"Then why did you choose Sania?" Vishwas was confused.
"Sania is a better actress. Simple. If only Sania had been like Anya outside set, she'd still be here. I even would have got her an award. I know about five members in the jury this year. But sadly for her, it was not meant to be. I have established so many stars, she won't be one among them." He said in a hurry to head out.
"But word is out that Sania is in the movie. She already is a small time actress. And more over Anya just looks like Sania and that too not exactly, I know the difference." Vishwas said.
"Vishwas, just relax. Your part is done. With a little makeup Anya can easily become Sania. Nobody will notice. Sania will go missing after the movie, and Anya will continue to my next movie, where we shall "launch" her." Atif said quoting in the air.
"Why can't you tell the media that it was an accident and you just had to replace her?" Vishwas was more curious now.
"Idiot! Its not of your business. Just do as you are told. Who would work with a team where an actress was killed accidentally? Use your brain. You got what you asked for right? So just forget all this." Atif was angry.
"Sure Sir, you are the boss. Can we go for a smoke now?" He asked with a smile. He obviously was pleased with Atif and himself.
"Hahahaha." Atif laughed out loud and put his arm around Vishwas and they both headed out.
Both stopped in their tracks when they heard a loud splash. They turned around in unison. And then froze.
Sania was sitting up in the tub with a big smile on her face. She stoop up and kept smiling. Totally unaware of her nakedness, she looked at Atif and Vishwas.
"How was it?" She asked.
Vishwas was about to faint but Atif held him. His mind was racing quickly.
"Sania..... we were just going to get help. Are.... you..... okay?" He mumbled with shock.
"What happened to you guys? Can't you see me standing here? Of course I'm okay. I just realized that I could hold my breath for longer that what I thought." She said with pride.
Vishwas was standing up now still in a state of shock.
"But you were in there for more almost five minutes Sania. That's physically impossible." Vishwas said with wide eyes staring at her from top to bottom.
Suddenly aware, she jumped out of the tub, grabbed her robe from behind the tub and wrapped herself in it. She seemed perfectly fine.
Atif stared at her with his mouth wide open. A lot of things were playing in his mind.
Vishwas kept on mumbling. "Five minutes. Five minutes... It can't be, it can't be. Anya! You are Anya right?"
Sania looked confused. "Anya who?"
Atif did not know what to say. "No one. He said Sania, not Anya." He managed to blurt out.
Sania didn't react but approached Vishwas. "Oh poor you, Vishwas. I'm totally alright. I realised half way down the scene that you guys wanted to make it look natural. So I played along holding my breath. I just wanted to see for how long I could hold my breath so I continued. After the AD moved his camera away I even began breathing here and there. Of course you guys were too worried to notice the air bubbles then." She pulled Vishwas's cheek as she said this.
Atif's face shone suddenly and he managed a nervous laugh thanking God secretly that Sania's hadn't figured out the truth.
"Yeah yeah, I just wanted to extract the best out of you. See, I told you, you were talented." He came close to her and patted her back and gave Vishwas a stern look.
Vishwas read the look right. "Awesome work Sania, you definitely had us worried. Brilliant acting. Kudos to you Atif, for choosing her." He gave them both an appreciating smile.
Sania beamed with happiness. "Okay, let me go take a shower and get ready for the next scene. When would that be?" She questioned Atif.
"Take your time. Get fresh, eat and take some rest. I'll complete Vishwas's solo scenes until then. I'll send someone to call you." He couldn't wait to get rid of her.
"Great. All the best Vishwas." She waved a bye and walked out of the set back to her trailer.
Lalit saw her approaching and quickly stubbed his cigarette and rushed to open the door for her.
"Thanks Lalit bhai." She said with a smile.
The assistant was confused but didn't say anything. He guessed that, she had just shot a scene that might have involved alcohol. Shaking his head, he went to the chai wala who had just arrived on the set with his tea kettle and small packs of Marie and Glucose biscuits.
Sania sat slowly down on her couch. She was trembling. She knew that Atif had wanted to kill her, but she was not the one to let go so easily. She would be more cautious now. She would just finish her job and leave.
Meanwhile Atif was having a tough time talking to Anya. She was threatening to sue him and he was only getting more and more angrier. Thankfully he hadn't told her the entire plan about the killing, else the lady would have straight headed to the cops, gaining the publicity she needed desperately. He promised her his next movie along with a few ads and she finally calmed down.
"See you tonight." She said and walked away.
Atif sighed. He walked towards Vishwas who was lighting one smoke after another. The shock was evident on his face and his shirt was soaked in sweat.
"You got another?" He signalled for a cigarette.
Vishwas handed him a pack from which he extracted one and promptly returned the pack. He lit it using his lighter and took a deep drag silently.
"What if she knows the truth? That we tried to kill her?" Vishwas broke the silence.
"She doesn't know it and you please stop talking about it. It did not work, let it be. Let she finish the movie and walk away. We just have to put up with her until then. No more wrong moves. We need to be very careful." Atif said with caution.
"Okay all forgotten." Vishwas tried to force a smile.
"Come, lets finish your scenes for the day. Then we can call her and finish her stuff too and pack up." Atif seemed in a hurry.
The shoot continued smoothly for the rest of the schedule. Sania maintained her distance from Atif and her only interactions with him were regarding the scenes and nothing else. Atif even stayed away from the trailer. Vishwas too showed promise in his role and Atif was glad he had chosen him for his next movie as well. Sania was also a great actress and he was proud that he had chosen her. If only she had been like the way he had imagined her to be, things would have been so different. The technicians were instructed to just finish their work and leave. No one was to interact with the main cast. They had been working with Atif for a long while now and knew the repercussions if they disobeyed him.
The schedule went on for two months and soon the last day of the shoot arrived. Atif was known to promote his films alone, without his cast. He gave interviews, attended socials dos and even made appearances on reality shows. But all alone. The cast was to interact with the media only after the release of the film. This was already mentioned in the contracts that his actors signed. After the shoot, he would never meet his cast. Exceptions were made only when he wanted some scenes to be reshot. Else, after the last day of the shoot, he would meet the cast only during the premiere of the movie. The premiere for this movie was to be held a month later. Since, this was the last day of the shoot, he had arranged for a small party on the set once the shoot was all packed up.
Sania, Vishwas, Atif, Subash dada, the AD, the spot boy, and about a ten more junior artistes were the only ones at the party which was held around an old wooden table filled with drinks and food. A half cut cake was lying in one corner of the table. Everyone seemed to enjoy and relax. Atif approached Sania.
"Excellent work Sania. Thanks for doing the film. I hope to work with you again sometime in the future." He said with a smile.
"Sure Sir, thank you for signing and trusting me with your film." Sania sounded genuinely thankful.
"Welcome." Atif said and walked towards Vishwas.
Sania saw them exchange a few words and a few laughs from the corner of her eye. She was glad all of this was coming to an end. She wanted to free herself from this as soon as possible.
After a final round of goodbyes, everyone left the venue and went back to their usual lives.
Vishwas had had way too many drinks and was finding it difficult to drive back home. He was too dazed to remember what had happened in the party. He was too dazed to see the truck approaching his car from ahead. Then suddenly, Vishwas remembered nothing.
Atif was now back at the studio with the AD. They were here to edit and process the film. Atif sat in the dark room with the remote in one hand and a note book in another. The AD whose name was Anwar sat next to him, waiting for the show to start on the projected screen. The beginning credits began to roll. The background score was exactly like how Atif had wanted it, he looked at Anwar and smiled. Anwar returned the smile back and pointed to the font on the credits. Atif frowned. That was not what he had decided on.
"You were right. I shouldn't have hired that college kid for this work. I need to get back to him now." He said and scribbled something in his notebook.
The movie started. The first scene was the bathroom scene where Sania gets killed. Rest of the movie was about how she comes back to haunt her killers and then the movie moves to the past to show how the characters had actually met and what had happened. Atif smiled to himself knowing for sure that he had another success in hand.
Sania now appeared on the screen in her white robe. She looked splendid. Atif felt something stirring inside. He suddenly wondered if he had messed up his chances with Sania himself. The scene then shifted to where Sania drops her robe. He stared at her body in awe. She was a flawless beauty. Stunning to say the least. He felt the need to see her in person again. He needed her, he felt the urge to be with her. He felt something deep within which was something more than just need. More than lust. He felt a weird connect with her. He mentally decided to mend ties with her and try to win her. This time the right way and for the right reason. In the next scene Sania gets in to the tub and starts splashing water all over. Atif smiled, he was falling in love with her. He knew it now.
Vishwas slowly entered the scene. The lighting was perfect. Then came the struggling. Atif shifted in his seat. The scene had meant to be something else altogether. He felt nervous. Anwar was sweating and his hands were shivering. Both knew that they had come very close to murder. The scene unfolded exactly the way it had been planned. It looked so natural that Atif wanted to go and pull her out of the tub. They saw the look of horror on her face, the helplessness in her body, her silent screams, her failing battle. Atif felt tears well up in his eyes. How could he have tried to kill such an innocent being? Today he was very glad that their plan had failed. He slowly patted Anwar's hand. The scene was now over.
The movie then moved to the scene where Sania begins to haunt Vishwas. Vishwas had done his part brilliantly. But Sania was not in the scene. Atif stood up and went back to the beginning of the scene. It showed a flustered Vishwas hiding behind a bed and Sania was to appear and scare him. He remembered shooting the scene, but Sania was not in the frame. Instead there was only a pale black shadow. He forwarded the scene and went ahead. Still no sign of Sania anywhere, just the black shadow. He was confused. Wasn't the lighting right? He then moved towards the past scenes which showed the courtship of the two characters.
Atif stood in shock. The scene showed Vishwas sitting alone in a park and talking to someone next to him. Sania was just not in the frame. Just when he was about to move forward he heard her dialogue. He stopped. Vishwas spoke and Sania's voice replied. But she was not seen. He was angry now. The actress was present only in the first two scenes of the movie. How could that be possible? He turned back to talk to Anwar, the AD and ask him what was happening. His eyes popped open.
In Anwar's chair, now sat Sania, with gleaming eyes. She stood up to reveal the silk white robe she was wearing. With a seductive smile she came closer to Atif and dropped her robe.