The Mary Kom trailer released this week, and guess what, it features a close friend from my undergrad days! So yes, now I can proudly say that I know a celebrity, but this post is more than just my claim to fame, vicarious as it is.
While we went to the same college, lived in the same hostel, finished numerous packets of Maggie and junk food, strolled around Marine Drive, watched movies, gossiped for hours and whenever time permitted, studied a bit, I wouldn’t say we were exactly best friends. In all honesty, we lost touch after graduation, and while I settled for the conventional path to making a living in the corporate world, she was brave enough to follow her dreams. As I rotted within the 2 Km radius in Hiranandani, she traveled the world, dividing her time between Mumbai and New York, trying her luck in modeling, theatre and now, mainstream Bollywood.
So here is a bit of background and I am sure you will soon read an extremely exaggerated version in Bombay Times, but remember, you read it here first!
My college was known for its diversity and attracted girls from across the country as well as a few international students, a bit of a rarity for a degree college, but unlike the homogenous crowd in my MBA institute (where everyone was academically inclined and wanted to be in the corporate world), the crowd here was really a pot pourri of talented individuals with a variety of interests. Also the fact that we were still in our teens and living away from family for the first time, made us a more confused and vulnerable lot. Now this girl hailed from Manipur, and the first thing that struck me about her was her height. At 5’10, she towered over most of us, especially me and whenever we posed for photos together, the photographer had to resort to all sorts of tricks just to get us in the same frame! While she was quite striking even at that age, she spent a lot of time hyperventilating about her weight, going on crash diets or intense exercise routines. One day, while we all pigged out on cheap and greasy Chinese take away, I couldn’t help asking her why she deprived herself so much. And then came the statement, I would never forget: “Because I can’t study like you do. I choose to be in this field, and therefore I will do what it takes to be successful here.” For a 19-year old, it was pretty deep, especially since the rest of us were still figuring out what to do with our lives. Over the years, she groomed herself as a model and an individual, featuring on the Kingfisher Calendar and other assignments which made her quite a popular figure in the industry (with 11,000 followers on FB). For someone from the north-east, who knew nobody in Mumbai or the entertainment/fashion arena, it’s an achievement of epic proportions.
In a few months, we would all see her on the big screen, and I would be proud of her and think about the days when I knew her as just another college kid: gangly, awkward and annoying.
She is the girl who played with fire, and emerged unscathed…