I am like demonetized, high-value currency – surrendered, shunned by all, and worthless. I was a powerful black hole hiding in the firmament of cinema – not conspicuous like the shining stars of the tinsel world but powerful and all-engulfing. Everyone – from spot boys to stars – knew me. After all, the worth of a gangster is directly proportional to the number of stars you know.
I was the king of the jungle and I always operated an army of men who were ready to go in for surgical or sweeping strikes at my command. They were largely drawn from places, which were permanently blotted by self-serving leaders who wanted the armies to keep coming – generation after generation.
We conquered territories, captured vehicles, hived off cash, kidnapped men and women for ransom, threatened people for money, and it was a jolly good life. We drank through the nights and our orgies lasted for days. It was fun as I always worked for stars and leaders.
Mirth was it all day as I had no image to maintain like my masters. I was the bad guy. But the real bad guys, my operators, had to smile and lead an abnormal life. Theirs is the real struggle. They stick to civic sensibilities during the day. They kill their images at night and live till daybreak - pathetic that is to say.
But, I missed foreseeing the strategic betrayal by the powers be. Had I gone to school properly, I would have known what betrayal was from the many plays of Shakespeare. Yes, my fellow cell-mate reads Shakespeare from the jail library and he is in love with it. I too am tripping on one Macbeth. It is the tale of that hapless guy who, egged on by his wife, kills the king of the land. What people can make you do! Ya, they call it indoctrination. And this Macbeth was a fool – to act on someone else's prompting – that too for something he did not want – the throne.
Now, my son back home wants to act in movies. He says we both can try our luck as actors. I am not very happy with the proposition as I may get an image makeover and image maintenance is not my cup of tea. I am what I am. But my son agrees not. He says 'image is the art of creating an inverse character within oneself that could counter-balance the vices in us.' I do not know what he means. By the time I figure out the sense of that, I may be the prisoner of my image.
(This is a work of fiction that is loosely based on 'real' events)