A story of a dream, a dream of a story!

For a long time, the subject of dream has intrigued me personally. What are dreams really? Philosophers say, it is a projection of our own reality, and psychologists say it is our subconscious mind that builds pictures. But then, if reality is just a matter of perspectives, as they say, then why are dreams unreal?

This is three years back from now. It was late night that day and I was sitting in my office cab, playing with my blackberry, and waiting for Driver Bhaiya to start the car when it’s time. Suddenly a story idea struck me. Yes, story ideas always strike me at the weirdest of moment, in the non-quietest of times. I picked up my Blackberry and started typing into it a story, making up the plot as I wrote. It was a few months since I had started writing, and I was well quite in my groove. That day, that story I was writing was about dreams, and about parallel planes of reality. It was a story of a lady and her world of magic realism. Done, dusted, I mean published, and forgotten, just as it happens! About two years back, my husband asked me suddenly if I remember that story that I once wrote. I said, yes. Soon enough, it found a space on our desk in the form of scribbled dialogues and sketched backdrops… He told me that he wanted to make that into a film - a short-film, of about half an hour. I wasn’t sure if it’d be such a great idea, but we decided to give it a try. But, how? Doesn’t it take quite some money? Well, some FDs were dissolved and some good friends had volunteered to do their bit, too. But, what about cast? Facebook posters were created, almost in shape of matrimonial adverts. Height, build, looks – come one come all. Some audition rounds were arranged, and whoa, people actually did turn in in quite good numbers. Crew? References were sought, recommendations received, requirements sketched out.

DOP – check. Editor – check. Music – check. Sound arrangement – check. Singer – check. Recording studio – check. Locations – check, check, check. Finally, just about marginally, yes, check. Two houses, a café shop, a hospital, an office building. Check. And then, in December that year, leave approval from office – check. And sooner than we knew, we found ourselves in our beloved city of Kolkata. But then, there we were, looking up locations, seeking help and advices, and more than anything, volunteers. Some volunteered their apartment, some their office, and some, their café shop. Some, even a hospital! That is how things work, really, if you really, really want them to… Trust me! Four days of hectic shoot later, days then went into rounds over rounds of iterative post production, quite a few visits to the sound studios for the song recordings to background scores, to voice dubs. Some more FDs found their way into the Savings account, and soon out of it too. Time passed. And then, about a year back, it was one fine morning and I was deep in slumber. My husband woke me up with an email on his mobile that he wanted me to read right away. “Monsieur”… the email began. And then it went ahead to tell us that well, our film has been selected for screening at The 69th Cannes Film Festival in May 2016. “See you in Cannes” the mail ended, leaving us dumbfounded, shell-shocked at the other end of the globe. Dreams do come true, you see! A dream of a story, and a story of a dream.

The film went on to win hearts, and awards. So much so that we lost count after a while. Best Short film in Boston International Film Festival, Best Director award in Kolkata International Short Film Festival, Best screenplay award from among 550 + films from across the world in PickurFlick Indie Film festival, Hyderabad All Lights to name a few. By the way, remember what we were discussing about qualities of a good story? Well, irrespective of what anyone tells you, a story must always have a happy ending.

If it is not happy, it is not the end, yet! But wait! It never says that a story cannot have multiple happy endings, does it? Okay, so brace yourself with your seat-belt once more, as I quickly wrap it up with a dessert. This was at the end of one of the many screenings that happened for Elixir in several cities of India and abroad. At the end of the show as we stood there customarily replying to the QnA on the script, thanking people for having come, for liking it, someone came and held out a visiting card to me. He wanted to sign me on for a book contract. “What? But wait, I don’t even have a manuscript!” “Write it,” he said. “This story belongs to a book.” And so I did! Yes, I wrote the manuscript of my first book after having signed the book contract first, beat that! The book launch is on 11th of November ‘17 in Gurgaon, in early January ’18 in Kolkata, and in the end of January ’18 in Bangalore.

I want my family there. My Toastmasters family, I mean. Please!