Drama Mystery Thriller

People were mingling around, although time was past 3 a.m. Loud music was played at the DJ console. There was smell of marijuana in the air. Women were dressed in their sexiest and most provocative attires, while the men were in bow tie and tuxedos.

If one were to think this was a party in London, well, one could probably be right, but it was in downtown Mumbai. The occasion was success celebration of the film `Kataar’ – Dagger. It starred a newcomer and hit the box office at Rs 600 cr, which was above Dangal, the Aamir Khan movie. The newcomer was non other than TV star Harveen Prasad Singh, a young 28-year old with muscles at the right places and looks to die for.

It was his debut movie and he had three heroines in the movie. The producers were celebrating the success of the film. Almost all the big names of Mumbai film world were there. Top actors to top producers – the party was in full swing.

The party venue was a top night club in Mumbai, often frequented by the royals of the country.

The DJ slowed down the music as the producer of Kataar, Sanjay Khanna, held the mike and raised his hands, seeking attention of all attendees. Everyone stopped talking and turned towards him.

Sanjay Khanna gestured for Harveen to join him. The three heroines of the movie tagged along. Then the director of Kataar, Soloman Daiya, joined the group.

Everyone clapped. Sanjay held up his hand as gesture of thank you. `Thank you,’ he said aloud. `all your support made it possible.’ That was a blatant lie. It was not the support of those attended but the fans of Mumbai film world that made the success possible. Fans from every nook and corner of India. The group at the party had probably begged for free tickets during premiere.

The shameless crowd clapped, taking credit not theirs.

`The stars worked so hard,’ he continued. `The film location was in a remote jungle, but everyone ensured the work was smooth.’ Another great lie.

The stars had air conditioned, modern trailers. Unlike the other crew who had to rough it out in the jungle, bitten by mosquitoes and had to sleep in tents. The filming was done over two months and the crew suffered that many days, but the credit was given to the leads.

Sanjay continued, `So the success at box office is credit due to the entire team.’ He started clapping followed by others, except two men at the corner, who watched the whole event intently. If one didn’t notice them not clapping, one would have thought they were also party goers, but to the keen eye, they were just observers.

`Now, I have another news,’ Sanjay said. The crowd hushed again. `My next film – The Indian Express – will commence shooting next month. And, guess who is the hero?’

Harveen smiled and crowd broke into applause again. `Yes, I am casting Harveen in my next film,’ said Sanjay Khanna.

`I hope all of you will support my next movie and make it another success. Now, enjoy the night!’

Another round of applause and the crowd continued drinking and dancing. The two men at the corner walked out through the nearest exit. They were clearly not happy.

Harveen was a small-town boy who was attracted to the bright lights in the big city. He was known to be very intelligent, was state topper in engineering entrance examination – the looks and the brain were exceptionally good, which was usually a rarity. This boy was an exception.

Sanjay Khanna, whose last few films flopped at the box office, took a chance on Harveen, which turned out to be a good gamble.

But there were undercurrents in Mumbai film world that a certain group was not happy with Harveen’s success. That group only wanted children of stars to be launched and to be hired as film leads though most of these star kids not only couldn’t act, they hardly made it past Class 12th. But being star kids, they got the privilege to act in good roles though their pathetic acting often brought about the downfall of producers and directors. Sanjay Khanna was one of those producers who had seen flop after flop till Harveen came by.

The car drove off the night club with two men at the back.

`The Chief will not like this,’ one of the men said. The other man nodded. The Chief referred to the Mumbai film world don, who was said to have sponsored producers to take films, using illegally gotten money – money from illegal arms business, human trafficking, drug dealing and prostitution. It was called money laundering. Since he just wanted to launder money, he didn’t care whether the films did well or otherwise.

The first man who spoke took out his phone and made a call. He spoke very few words, nodding most of the time. The other man looked out of the window while putting on a pair of leather gloves. He knew what the instructions would have been.

Harveen washed his face in the toilet of the club and looked at his face in the mirror. He was a very good-looking bloke. Before films, he used to model for men’s perfume. He never thought his film debut would give him such an instant fame. From unknown small-town boy, he had become a star. People back home were very happy; they almost worshipped him. His parents were unknown folks in that town, but now people stopped them on the streets to talk to them. Harveen felt happy.

There was a slight knock on the toilet door. That must he Shreya, he told himself. Shreya Moorthy was his manager. She managed his contracts, shooting schedules and promo appearances. He looked at himself in the mirror one more time and walked to the door.

Shreya was standing outside the door. She led him through the dance floor to the entrance. At the entrance, the valet had brought Shreya’s car. They both got into the car and Shreya drove off.

`Why are we leaving early?’ Harveen asked Shreya.

`Someone wanted to see you regarding a film,’ she answered.

`At this hour? Can’t they wait till tomorrow?’ he asked. It was almost 5 a.m.

`They said it was important,’ Shreya said as she turned into the highway towards north of the city. That was where all the recently opened new hotels were located.

Harveen and Shreya did not speak the rest of the way. Around 5.40 a.m. Shreya pulled into the five-star hotel car park. Then they took the lift to the 21st floor, the Executive Club floor.

They walked along the corridor till room 2117. Shreya was about to ring the bell when Harveen stopped her.

`Can’t we meet at the lobby or something?’ he asked.

`They said they wanted a private meeting,’ Shreya said as she shook off his grip and rang the room bell.

Seconds later the door opened and a man greeted them. Shreya seemed to know him, for she hugged him before introducing Harveen.

The two men shook hands and they walked into the room. Another man was seated on the sofa.

They went into small talk. Shreya was talking most of the time, Harveen just watched, a little irritated because they have not started discussing any movie projects yet.

Then, one of the man rose and walked to the bar. He asked them what they wanted to drink. Shreya asked for brandy, Harveen asked for water.

The other man rose and invited them to the balcony to enjoy the night view of Mumbai. They stepped out and felt pleasantly surprised that the breeze that night was comfortably cold. They walked from one end to the other looking at the city lights. The man who offered them drinks came out with two glasses – brandy for Shreya and water of Harveen. Harveen noticed that the two man did not have anything to drink and they were still in gloves though they were inside the room. It did not feel right.

Harveen wanted to place the glass down but he noticed that the other man was watching him intently. Shreya gulped down the brandy and handed the glass back to the first man. Harveen hesitated, then walked into the room to place the glass on the table.

It was a short gasp of someone losing their breath. He turned as he saw Shreya clutching her throat. An elbow encircled his neck from behind. Harveen’s mind went blank.

He saw Shreya flying next to him; he was flying fast towards the ground! But something was not right at his neck, he touched and saw red liquid on his hand just as his body and Shreya’s hit the ground; everything went black.

The inspector who lifted the shroud covering the bodies saw the thin line at the neck of the man – the hidden dagger cut. He knew that signature line and who would have done that. His work was cut out for him. The media had already gathered like vultures at the entrance of the hotel. His press conference lines were the same as before – murder suicide - new star, couldn’t handle fame, had an affair with his manager in the hotel room, argued and she killed him then jumped. He put his police cap and walked towards the gathered media – he had his work cut out for him else he would also become victim to the same hidden dagger.

August 26, 2020 02:45

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