Mock Bull in Wonderland
It is raining hard and Mock Bull Go Bechara is trying to read in bed despite the incessant patter on the tin roof and the grumbling of his stomach in protest of the Mobil jelapis that he has gorged on during iftar. The book 'Who knows What's Going to Happen in December?' is not an easy read and filled with plots and sub-plots, intrigues and counter-intrigues. Mock Bull is getting a headache and his eyes feel heavy. What do they mean by parliamentary election first before municipal elections, or was it the other way round? It takes about twenty seconds before the book falls off from his hands and his mouth starts drooling as usual and this middle class schoolteacher from New Kali, is drifting into a disturbed sleep...
Cartoons: Sharier Khan
Mock Bull is walking towards a huge white mansion with sprawling green lawns on either side. Several flag-adorned Mercedes zoom past depositing their respective celebrity to the grand Eid party hosted by the Chief Elder of the kingdom Chief Suavuddin. Mock Bull being on foot, joins the line of ordinary folks who have also been graciously invited.
Inside the red-carpeted, satin-curtained hall is a spectacular scene. It is a display of colour and colourfulness, provided by the fascinating assortment of guests. Every now and then are the green aliens, immigrant mercenaries from Planet Armageddon, manoeuvring through clusters of VVIPs, keeping an eye on things and keeping a firm hand on their laser guns.
As Mock Bull gazes star-struck and humbled by the presence of so much fame and in-fame, he recognises quite a few familiar faces. Many of them are leading ladies and men or sidekicks from last year's 'Whose Dirty Laundry First?' a star-studded blockbuster that began with a bang and ended with a sad, fading whimper. As if hypnotised by some external power, Mock Bull wades across to the different groups of people and tries to eavesdrop into their highly fascinating conversations.
In a prominent corner is Queen Bee Dolly, looking a trifle worn out after a rather uncomfortable Rehab stay (no hairspray for instance). Her stylist, after deciding she could not wait any longer for her most-important-client to come out, changed camp and now works full time for Abe Jal's wife Raina who prefers to hide her real face behind a mask made of layers of special pink emulsion (also good for your living room walls). Dolly, with glistening pink lips to match her sheer pink Forashi sheefon sari, pink pearls and humungous diamond earrings, sits on a throne next to arch rival Shaksina whose glamour pales by comparison as she is wearing a rather dowdy Bongo silk sari and old-fashioned matte brick lipstick.
A year in the rehab has changed Queen Bee Dolly for the better. Before her days in the dreaded red house (fondly called the Laal Killa by its inmates) Dolly has turned a blind eye to the misdeeds of her sons Trek and Cocoa, even when they were extorting money from the people of the film industry. At that time Dolly even financed a cricket match in front of the infamous Air Castle, Trek and Cocoa's office, to prove that the castle was actually for fun and games. After the vigilante group took over under the leadership of Dr Sauveuddin, all of the players of Air Castle including Trek, Cocoa and Barber abandoned it, some even had started the production of a film called 'The Reformist', where Abe Man plays the knight in shining armour, until it was found out that Man himself was in dire need of going to the rehab.
After her blockbuster 'Where are my sons?' flopped and the production of her new release 'Amar Bhai Razakar' came to a halt, she sought the help of Motichur Nilami, the infamous villain who is also a part-time vocalist of heavy metal band JMB Incorporated. Nilami has been going through a rough patch himself, for the crimes of this infamous criminal and his cronies have been highlighted by the paparazzi. A recent hidden cam scandal has shown Motichur killing innocent people for which his waning popularity has plummeted further. As Motichur has failed to come up with the flag of rescue, Queen Bee Dolly, like her reel-rival Shakseena has decided to leave the film industry. She, however, has said that she will remain a mother figure in her production company Basically No Party Limited.
For bread and butter she has started a beauty parlour called The Doll's House. The parlour has become a success among Dhaka's nouveaux riche for its famous bouffant, which Dolly herself sports. Berber is given the charge of the men's section. He has also written a letter to the University of Oxford, requesting them to include the word 'shotruz' in its dictionary.
Shakseena's debut in the film industry has given birth to a string of flops like '86-er Elections' (The Elections of 1986) and its sequel 'HM Borbad-er Shathe Long Drive' (A Long Drive with HM Borbad) and 'Charlie-er Obhishap ('The Curse of Charlie Chaplin', a film where the famous US comedian's local double plays the lead role). After these has come the biggest of all flops: 'Mig-er Ashol Dam Ki?' (How much does a Mig really cost?'), the film, star-studded though it is with guest appearances by Merry Blare, the wife of the former British premier Moony Blare, has failed in the Box Office. Shakseena, understandably, has refused to budge. Now, after her latest venture 'Kan-nie Gelo Chil-e' has not earned even 100 million USD (150 is considered a hit, 220 a runaway success), she has decided to call it a day. Princess's son Toy, according to unreliable sources, has expressed his desire to step into his mother's shoes, but has been snubbed by his uncle Ams Khamu, who has reportedly told him to mind his own business.
Few in the room were in doubt that this was a momentous moment when the most bitter of rivals in the nation's most famous catfight ever, were face to face and having to be civil to each other when in reality all they wanted to do was to tear each other's limbs apart. But hey, these are seasoned actresses and they know the art of pretence to perfection.
Queen Dolly Bee (QDB): So, HOWS THE EAR? IS THAT A NEW SARI?
Shaksina (S): Hey, I'm not totally deaf you know. My ear is fine. Ahem, oh this sari? Yes my son Toy gave it to me for Eid. I'ts from Bongoland though. Yours is of course from Francoland right?
QDB, smiling benignly: Oh, this old thing, I got this when I was in Paghi raising funds for our Absent Orphan Foundation.
Shaks: Oh by the way, how's Trek, heard he slipped on a piece of soap and hurt his neck, poor bast... I mean poor thing.
QBD: Trekky is alright, in London with the little one, Cocoa. They are so busy with so many things. They are launching a couple of new products Almost Chocolate and Firearms for Amatuer Mastans as well as a new fragrance: Shanel's Corruption No 2.
Shaks: Good for them. My son Toy has started a blogger's group called 'Global goofballs.blogs.co'. It's a highly intellectual group. Last week's discussion was on 'How to make enough political faux pas' to make sure your rivals are alive and kicking'. Meanwhile I've just received my 99th honourary degree at Hicktown Uni in Alabama. I have been giving lectures on my experience, the trauma of watching endless Hindi serials, you know they didn't let me watch any Bongo channel. (Pause). By the way, did you know Sagar (from Dulhan) remembers his past life?
QBD: So what about your latest movie 'Miger Ashol Dam Ki'? Heard it hasn't been doing so well.
Shaks: Honestly, it's too early to tell. Let's just wait for the Academy Awards in December eh?
Shakseena has left no successor in her group, and chances are there that in her absence infighting between actor and actresses will grow. Now she spends her time writing books. One of her books 'Mind your own language' has become a runaway hit, especially because it includes colloquial lingo that Shakseena has used on screen. Her second book '100 ways to ruin your career' has earned her huge accolades from the critics. Her third book 'A Guide to the Health System of United States and Canada' will hit the bookstores next year. Industry sources say that this book might earn Shakseena her 100th honouray degree, and unlike the previous ones it will be of free of cost.
At this point the conversation trails off as the animosity between the two just cannot be contained and threatens to emerge. But then to save the day comes, geriatric playboy H.M. Borbaad. Suave, wearing his silk cravat and Armani blazer, he looks quite the Plastic Dandy as he sashays in between the two ladies. Dolly Bee almost spits in disgust (they have had a kind of falling out) and Shaks grimaces, she has to as she is banking him to back her up for the leading role for the next blockbuster: 'The Election that Almost Never Happened'.
HMB: So darlings, happy to see you two finally chit chatting. Rumour has it that the two of you may make a pact not to boycott the Film Academy Awards Council Meetings from now on.
In the eighties, when the industry was in need of an action hero, HM Borbaad hit the silver screen riding a cycle, surrounded by a bevy of middle-aged women. For the next two years Borbaad produced one hit after another until a flurry of avant-garde films such as 'Nur Hossain' and 'Dr Milon' were made. With his fan following limited to Wrong-pur, Borbaad has ceased to be cast as the leading hero; still he tries to play out the romantic hero in C-grade regional films. Of these misadventures includes 'Bou Keno Chor?' in which Borbaad's (officially) second wife tries to jump off the window of his flat with his much coveted cell phone. Borbaad's on and off-screen life has, however, remained a joke.
Even though both the queens are planning to step aside, making room for new actors and actresses, HM Borbaad, in his mid-eighties, refuses to follow suit. With a wilted red rose in hand he stares into the dark monsoon sky and tries to write his autobiography--' The Jatra Party'.
Close to Dolly Bee, is a curious figure - Motichur Nilami, leader of The Three Evil Stooges, grinning like a diabolic Cheshire cat, Motichur knows that he is the most important player in the game right now. Without Nilami's support, Dolly Bee knows that she can never get the coveted leading role in 'The Election that Almost Never Happened'.
As Mock Bull browses around the room he comes across another odd group. D. H. Lonsense (the D. H. is for Deadly Halitosis) is berating Abe Man, the rebel from the Dolly Bee film mafia, who had dared to want changes in the nepotism within the Gang.
DHL spits out: You brought it on yourself Man. Now we have no option but to get rid... I mean, banish you.
Abe M looks away, more to avoid the lethal sprays of saliva than remorse.
Meanwhile Abe Jal who plays the role of Joteel (The Complicated) in the psychological thriller 'The Ultimate Confessor' is trying to make eye contact with his former buddy Abe Man to talk about his lead role in 'I never said I was going'.
In a far corner is an obscure-looking man - Yesuddin who, contrary to his innocuous appearance, is actually the most cool-headed manipulator in the industry. Even the roles he plays reflects his true character. In the movie 'Mukles Tumi Fax Koro', Yesuddin is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type character, he is professor cum President by day and evil sorcerer by night. With his shifty magic and aided by many demons, he wreaks havoc in Bongoland. Off-screen he is very chummy with Dolly Bee and Gang.
Yesuddin, in fact is said to be a master of the Dark Arts and has brought a special halim for the Eid party. It is of course a magic potion that take's away a person's conscience and replaces it with hard-core knavery. Lazy Fazy, who had been exposed by the paparazzi for faking his acting school certificate, comes near Yesuddin with an empty bowl. Cryptically Yesuddin shakes his head and says: You, of all people, don't need this, my son. Bewildered and a little embarrassed, Fazy slithers away...
Mock Bull notices that there is a little crowd in yet another corner of this endless hall. The Chief Executive Coordinator of the Film Academy Awards Council, otherwise known as 'The Juggler', is doing his juggling act for his rapt audience, mainly consisting of papparazzi. CEC, while juggling the three magic balls marked B, A and J, is looking rather nervous as he is getting a little tired.
The Awards ceremony is knocking at the door and just when everything was coming into place, members of the Council (who have their own groups) have started raising objections to every little change he has initiated to make the Council more democratic and fair as far as awards are concerned. Motichur Nilami's group for instance, has totally rejected his changes even though they had been the first ones to agree to them before. Dolly Bee and Gang are saying that they need more time to think before they approve any changes and some alternative film actors are also being difficult. Only Shaksina's group seems to have supported him so far. Distracted by these thoughts the CEC is sweating as he juggles away, fearing that any time a ball may fall and totally disgrace him.
By now, Mock Bull is completely frazzled by all this and also very thirsty. He goes to the Big Punch Bowl which contains some delicious-looking red nectar. Two rather pleasant-looking men are having tall glasses of this Rooh Avsa de Gono Tontro, a very expensive (many have died for it) and hard to authenticate (innumerable fake brands) brew. The two hazel-eyed, golden-skinned lads Mock Bull recognises from the film tabloids are respectively, Hazel Jillul Lama, a former man of letters, now a prominent member of the Film Academic Council and Hazel Anis Hawk, a well known costume designer for period films as well as a prominent unofficial member of the Council. They are pouring glasses of the elixir and drinking it with gusto, smiling charmingly at everyone.
Mockbull cannot resist: Can I have a glass, please?
Hazel n Hazel in unison: Of course, of course!
At this point they do the strangest of things. They start pouring goblets of the pricey juice on poor Mock Bull's head. He tries to protest but is tongue-tied. They smile benignly, their lips move but he cannot hear what they say...
Suddenly Mock Bull finds himself uncomfortably damp. His eyes open and he is back in his dingy tin-roofed room with a gaping hole through which rivulets of rain are pouring in, right on top of his head.
So much for the Elixir, laughs practical Mock Bull, as he gets up to get a bucket.
- Star Desk
Disclaimer: All characters, places, organisations and names mentioned in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to any real persons or places is purely coincidental. The Star magazine does not take any responsibility for any such resemblance.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008