Senthil heard the temple bells tolling as he descended the stairs to meet his father.
“I want to direct a short film, papa.”
Senthil’s was a conservative family that lived in Thiruvallur, a small town located 50 km from Chennai. Muthu, Senthil’s father was a sub-inspector in Chennai and visited Thiruvallur only during weekends. Muniamma, his wife epitomized the typical South-Indian mother who frequented the local temple on a daily basis to pray for the welfare of her family.
Senthil had just finished his under graduation and landed himself in a decent job in a world-renowned MNC. His parents were overwhelmed. Coming from a small town, finding a job in an MNC was something big for them. Now they could repay their daughter’s marriage loan faster.
But, Senthil was never satisfied with such a predictable existence. He had other plans – to become a film-maker. Right from his school days, he would watch movies and analyze them from dimensions that many wouldn’t have noticed. He was a big follower of off-beat movies. Mani Ratnam, Satyajit Ray and Christopher Nolan were his favorite film-makers. In his head, he was very confident that someday, he would join that list of most respected film-makers.
But he was scared of his father. “What would be Papa’s reaction if I tell him I am interested in movies?” he often asked himself. He was sure his father would protest. So, Senthil never really considered film-making as a career and decided to go on with his life, until one day.
Balaji was Senthil’s closest friend right from school. Though they went to different colleges for under graduation, they were constantly in touch with each other. There was nothing about Balaji that Senthil didn’t know and vice versa.
Two weeks ago, Senthil, Balaji and three of their friends decided to go on a road trip to a waterfall near Thiruvallur. The place wasn’t an established tourist destination. Balaji, being a good swimmer went under the waterfall to inspect the terrain. Just when all was good, Balaji landed his foot on a place that sucked in anything that came its way. Balaji hadn’t anticipated this. He screamed for help. By the time Senthil and others noticed him and reached the spot, Balaji was already half immersed inside the hole and was screaming in pain and fear. Senthil spread himself on the rock gingerly and extended his arm to Balaji for help. Balaji, being much heavier than Senthil was pulling him towards the hole.
This was going nowhere. Senthil didn’t know swimming. Senthil wanted to live. So, he did the unthinkable. He let go off Balaji’s hand. He saw his closest friend, drowning to death right in front of his eyes. That moment, Senthil’s life had changed forever.
It wasn’t Senthil’s fault. But his conscience was loaded with guilt. The expression on the faces of Balaji’s parents after his demise would haunt him for the rest of his life.
But this incident had etched a deep impact on Senthil’s life.
He realized that life is too short to even think about living someone else’s dream.
After days of thinking, Senthil mustered the courage and went to meet his father to discuss his future.
“I want to direct a short film, papa”, Senthil told his father.
“What are you saying Senthil? Are you serious?”
“Yes papa! I’ve been thinking about it for a while now”
“Senthil, succeeding in films is not easy. There have been people who have struggled for 20 years and failed.”
“Papa, a popular TV channel is conducting a short film competition. If I win it, I’ll get a chance to direct a film for Silver Frames Productions.”
“If you lose?”
“I will not, papa! I am your son”
“Let’s talk sensibly Senthil. Think about it. You’ll also lose your hard earned job. Are you sure about your decision?”
“Yes, papa! I am very sure.”
Senthil’s mother who was a silent spectator of the conversation, supported him.
“Go for it, Senthil! We are there for you.” papa said.
Senthil was overwhelmed. He could now pursue his dream. Tears rolling down his eyes, he hugged his parents.
Three years later…
“Great response from all theaters in Chennai, Sir. Movie is a super-hit”, an assistant director told Senthil.
Senthil’s phone was the busiest thing on earth that day. “Balaji”, his debut Tamil film was the talk of the town. There were already talks of remaking it in Hindi. Producers swarmed Senthil’s house to book his dates. His relatives who had earlier ridiculed him for his decision, were now pouring accolades on his success.
Senthil’s life had changed forever, again.
He knew Balaji had forgiven him, was watching him from far away and would be with him in every step in his life.