The hall was packed with happy and cheering audience. The play was very successful. The director and the crew were elated at the response. At the end, the team received a standing ovation from the audience. None of the recent shows managed to even fill all the seats. The PR machinery was successful to create awareness about the show and get people into the auditorium. The cast and the crew made a masterpiece.
As the show got over, everyone went and congratulated Arjun, who wrote and directed the play. Some of the cast members thanked him for including them in the play. This is not Arjun’s first successful play. Yet, he was very anxious. It was as if he was waiting for the climax to happen even after the show got over.
Three months ago, when he started finding people for the show, he evaluated many actors for the role of the female protagonist. He did not like anyone who came for the auditions. The sponsor of the show finally decided to announce in the newspaper and try some fresh faces for this show. As they decided to get a new female protagonist, they also thought it would be better to get a new male protagonist too as it was meant to be a love story.
After auditioning fresh aspirants for a couple of days, they zeroed in onto two promising faces, Ankit and Pallavi. Both the actors were spontaneous enough to play the roles in this love story to be performed on stage.
When they started doing rehearsals, Arjun noticed that there was some spark between Ankit and Pallavi. It was very obvious that Ankit was already smitten by Pallavi. This gave a new idea to Arjun.
He left Ankit and Pallavi in a room and asked them to read some books on acting and help each other out for nearly four to six hours. He observed them and wrote down everything that transpired between them. That night, he went home and started another story with the beginning of what happened that day.
He shared the details of this new story with the sponsor who liked the idea and encouraged Arjun to develop the story further into a stage play.
Arjun continued the experiment and forcefully added twists to their story. For example, on the second day, he praised Ankit and scolded Pallavi for a scene that they performed equally well. As Arjun expected, Pallavi was angry on Ankit for no mistake of his. However, they both tried to rehearse better for the scene the next day. After an initial fight, they got closer to each other and became good friends.
Arjun, regularly, made both of them stay late and asked Ankit to drop Pallavi. This way, Arjun planned and pre-empted their love story and added twists every now and then to strengthen their bond.
During the next stage of rehearsals, he add two more people, one after the other. They are seasoned actors and they knew how to take the story forward. Sheetal tried to get Ankit’s attention by being nice to him and helping him with this acting assignments. Karthik was assigned to divert Pallavi’s attention.
Within a short span of time, Ankit was jealous of Karthik and it was obvious when he had a big fight with Karthik. Likewise, Pallavi stopped talking to Sheetal because she found her very adamant. These extra factors added more to the affection between Ankit and Pallavi.
As the next step in his script, Arjun made sure that Ankit and Pallavi did not get to see each other for some time. He made sure they were placed in separate drama schools temporarily to attend some sessions. He was sure that they would stay in touch with each other through cell phones.
After the class room training was over, they were so happy to see each other. He recorded their expressions, dialogues, and behavior and used these to finish his script.
Arjun, then, presented the script to Ankit and Pallavi. He was not sure if they recognized that it was their story. He added one climax to it where Ankit proposes to Pallavi and she readily accepts his proposal. The only difference between their story and this script is that he based it all in a movie setting. He made the protagonists of his play students in a college who are to perform together for a dance event.
So, on this fateful day, Ankit and Pallavi performed extremely well despite being new as they had chemistry and have been through the scenes already as part of their experience in their lives in the past few months.
Arjun was waiting outside the auditorium to see if Ankit would really propose to Pallavi and check if his play became a reality. That would be a great sense of achievement.
As planned, he left them alone in the room and tried to observe them from another room.
Ankit started by saying to Pallavi, “It was such a wonderful response. I never thought we would get a standing ovation. I’m so glad our first show is such a success.”
Pallavi added, “I am so happy for this day. I’m so thankful to Arjun and the sponsors for giving us this opportunity.”
After talking about the various moments of the show and how the audience reacted, they finally got talking about something that Arjun wanted to listen.
Pallavi started the topic, “I need to tell you something. It was such a pleasure acting with you. You have been more than a friend and it was amazing to work with you. The past few weeks have been the best weeks of my life and I should thank you for that.”
Arjun started feeling happy that his prediction came true.
Ankit continued, “You have been a strong source of inspiration from the day one. It was really awesome to work with you. I wish we get more chances to work together. I’m not sure what I should do from tomorrow. I got so used to the routine of working with you. I cannot imagine my days without you.”
Pallavi looked seriously at him and said, “Before you go further, I need to tell you something. I agree that I will also cherish these days. But, before you build hopes about me, let me tell you something. I already have a boy friend and we are planning to marry soon.”
Ankit’s smile faded. Something worse happened to Arjun.
What did I do? Why did I play with two innocent hearts? I should not have done this. What can I answer now to Ankit? Will Pallavi be happy with her boy friend? Will she able to love Ankit or be happy with her boy friend? I messed up with their lives. Why did I do this? I should have stuck to my original scripts and I should have avoided this experiment. I have done something that should not be done as a writer. I played with the real emotions of two people. This is a disaster. I do not deserve to be a writer. I do not deserve anything. I thought I can play God. Instead, I played the devil. I ruined three lives. I can foresee the grief in their lives and I am the reason behind their sorrowful future. I do not deserve life. How can I save them from all the sorrow? I know how hard love failure will be? How can I let three people suffer what I have been through.
Thinking of all this, he went silent.
After a couple of minutes, one of the crew noticed that Arjun fell off from his chair. He fainted. They rushed him to the hospital. The doctors told everyone that he had a massive heart attack.
After a couple of days, Arjun wake up. He did not feel so good either as he immediately recollected what he has done.
Ankit and Pallavi came together to him in the hospital and told him.
“We are very sorry for what happened the other day. We actually love each other and Pallavi does not have any boy friend. The crew told us that you would be observing us as you based the story of your play on us and our experience. We just tried to play a prank on you and acted as if there is someone else in the story.”, said Ankit.
Arjun felt hopeful once again. Though he could not believe his ears, he was happy that he did not ruin anybody’s lives and in fact helped two people fall in love with each other.
Ankit and Pallavi married after a couple of years of courtship. Arjun continued to cast them in his plays. However, as advised by the doctors, he avoided any further experiments and wrote stories out of imagination and not as prediction of anybody’s future.