In the crowded city of Bangalore stood an old theatre. The facade wore a look of neglect, while the inner auditorium and stage were in a dilapidated condition. It had been a popular theatre in its prime and had been built during the colonial times. There was a time when shiny cars stopped at its entrance and Britishers or the Indian royalty stepped out with their families to enjoy an evening of grand theatre. Today, Triumph Theaters was a forgotten name on the busy high streets of Bangalore.
It was a usual Sunday evening and the shops around Triumph Corner, (ironically people continued to remember the corner) was busy with shoppers. The morning newspapers had carried a small article in City Beat that the old Triumph Theaters would be torn down to build a new mall in the shopping heaven of Bangalore. Not many noticed this piece. The current generation hardly knew where it was, after all the Britishers left India around 70 years back!
She was walking slowly in a burqa towards Triumph square, a street vendor held his perfumes towards her “Real cheap and good quality, you should try this.” he said, but she just waved him away. She stood in front of Triumph Theaters while taking a long look at it. She was lost in her thoughts when there was a tap on her shoulders. She turned around to face Sameer, “I knew you would come.” he said. They sat there under an old peepal tree that was just outside the gate of Triumph.”Other’s will come too. They still have their day jobs and families to care for.” he said quietly as they sat next to each other looking at the derelict building.
Slowly as the stores closed and the streets started getting quiet, a group of 10-15 people joined. They looked as if they had come to mourn. Sameer led them to the back of the building, where the fence was cut and they all quietly walked into the theatre. They went around the complex quietly, as if soaking in every word that the rickety theater had to say. They gathered near the stage and she removed her burqa to reveal a clear face soaked in tears. Her perfectly manicured hands ran over the stage. Just then they heard some voices and as they turned around came face to face with a bunch of teens. They gasped looking at her. After all, it was Nagma that they were seeing in front of them. The superstar of celluloid, one of the highest paid heroines of Bollywood.Sameer, brought the kids near her and said, “This would have been the third generation here, sadly their dream will be short-lived.”
Nagma remembered fondly how they had stumbled upon the open fence while trying to retrieve a ball. All of them had been the children of street vendors around Triumph Corner.While the parents were busy selling products to shoppers and tourists, the children went into the Theater and acted out scenes from movies or created their own scripts. Over the years, this had been a fantasy world, that opened just for them. A world, where they could be anything they wanted – a king, a hero, a rich and beautiful heroine, glamorous villain, action hero. Hours spent here offered them a happy facade that hid their stark reality.
Nagma had nurtured her dream to be an actress here and she had even fulfilled it. Many of them today worked around theater and film industry in different capacities, but everybody knew it was Triumph where they had learnt to dream. Tomorrow Banglore will lose a forgotten landmark but for this group, they will lose a place where dreams were lived and the teens will lose a grasp on dreams that helped them put up a happy facade in the face of grim reality.
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