Hello there. Before you continue reading, let me first tell you that this piece is a small story from my school days. This happened when our Principal sir somehow decided that our school needed an advertisement in the local City Siti Cable channel. His enthusiastic idea eventually turned out to be a forgettable venture for me. But apparently, I couldn’t forget it. Not that I didn’t try. I just couldn’t. Therefore like most of such things, I decided to write about it. I hope you find it interesting.

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Let me start with my school. St. John’s English Medium School. It is in every way more than just a school for me. Even today, I consider it my home. I studied there from LKG to 10th class. It was were I grew up. Literally and figuratively. Everyone and everything there remains to be a part of my life. This advertisement story took place when I was in my 9th class, 2003-04.

One afternoon, few kids from 9th and 10th classes were selected and made to sit in the computer lab. It was not for a class though. It was for shooting a promotional video for the school, the first ever in its history (My school was established in 1972) and so we were the chosen few. Our Principal sir was going to direct the entire video along with a professional camera man. Rather than taking montage shots (with desi voice over) of studying children and teachers clarifying doubts, he had decided to make the students say some one liners about the facilities in the school. I still remember some of them.

Example:

Gang leader: We have all round personality development…. *proudly*
Gang members: Only at St. John’s!! *loudly*

You get the idea right? Out of the box in those days.

So back in the computer lab that day, the first shot featured my senior, a 10th class girl named Ramya (very pretty) who had to turn to her left, look into the camera and say,

“Audio visual media help us in understanding our lessons better.”

She was told her line by sir and within five minutes, her shot was done. She did it with such grace and poise, one might think she was a professional actress.

Meanwhile I was sitting in the lab with a couple of my friends, making fun of the proceedings. We thought we were back up junior artists. Eye candy, like those bikini girls behind Dons in South Indian films. But no. After Ramya’s shot was over, Principal sir came straight to me. Oh God!! Why me?! Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a shy fellow back then. I was one of the popular kids (mostly because of my seniority there and also because of my unusual name) I was a good student, I got good marks, I participated in all events and won several prizes in most of them. Dances, quiz, debates etc. Like I said, the school was home to me. It is only natural that sir wanted me to be in the video. But unfortunately, what happened then was his miscalculation doing lungi-dance right infront of him.

I still remember and I perhaps will never forget what happened. My instructions were simple. When sir says “Action,” I have a turn back, look into the camera and say,

“We are provided with excellent graphic and animated computer software, to support our curriculum.”

In my defense, it was the lengthiest line of the entire project. It was the “Yemantivi yemantivi..” of our video, or so it felt. I admit I was at first confident that I could do it easily. Afterall,  I was a born artist. Then it began, the Downfall. My first take went horribly wrong. It happens right? But things went downhill from there so fast. If the dialogue was right, my voice wasn’t loud enough. If it was loud, the pronunciation was wrong. If the pronunciation was right, he dialogue was incomplete. Things became so awkward, it was not even funny like those blooper reels. Even after innumerable attempts, I was unable to even finish my line. With every wrong take, I could sense the  growing tension and uneasiness in the room.

Senior girls, including Ramya, started to giggle and not for the right reasons also. Some of the other kids began practicing my line and it made me more nervous. Even though Principal sir was kind enough to let me go on for a while, I knew that he was feeling sorry for me. Kind man. But I kept going, like Manchu brothers and their movies, with one failed attempt after another,

We are provided with excellent software computers..

We are provided with excellent computer graphics..

We are provided with animated computer that supports our curriculum… 

You might be laughing at me now but I tell you, it was not that easy. As I sat there while my utter humiliation was being recorded, my respect towards every actor ever began to grow by leaps and bounds. The entire debacle was more cringe worthy than watching Pawan Kalyan speak in his fake american accent.

After what felt like an eternity, I finally got it right. My voice was loud enough and I managed to complete the entire line. It felt as if the entire room was secretly celebrating the end of my fiasco. They were evidently more relieved than me. Even the camera man was like, “Thank God!! Now kick this fellow out!!” It was not even a digital camera. I don’t want to know how much of the cassette I had wasted. My ordeal was finally over. No wait, there is more.

After a couple of days of shooting, the video was completed. We were told to keep watching City Siti Cable during the 9 ‘O’ clock movie. My family sat infront of the TV waiting eagerly while I was feeling a little embarrassed and shy. Then the advertisement finally started. After some nice montage shots, some small children sang how much they enjoyed playing, those Gang members said that their personality developed in an allround fashion and when Ramya spoke about Audio visual media, my heart began to pound. But as you might have guessed by now, I wasn’t there in the video. They edited me out. The final attempt wasn’t successful. They just wanted to finish and leave. My mom felt so bad for me. Even though my dad told tried to console me, I knew he must’ve been laughing inside. I was only glad my mom did not tell all her friends, or did she? I don’t want to know also. In all the bad experiences anyone can face in school, this I believe is the most tragic. Okay if you leave Malala’s experience, this is the most tragic.

Oh boy. I cannot believe I told you this story. I have to admit, even though it was humiliating and awkward for a day or two, it did not matter after that. It was school, where things didn’t matter much once the final bell rang. The advertisement became a thing of the past. Today as I sit back and think, I fondly remember that incident as the time I was almost famous.

Hey talking about being almost famous, do you want to see something cool? Check this out,

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If you look  closely (not at Mohanlal but at the two handsome young men in the back ground,) that is me sitting behind my brother. I am looking sexy in my shorts as I carry two boxes of chicken momos.  I am however not sure how to feel about this. Anyway, this is my tragic venture into showbiz that ended even before it started. That is all for now my dear reader. See you next time. Tata 🙂

P.S. The next year, they decided to make some changes to the video. As if last years humiliation was not enough, I was cast as one of the gang members that had to shout, “Only at St. John’s!!” Kill me please.

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