Slogging through three shifts a day,

I suffer the stress of punishing schedules,

innumerable takes, retakes, and cuts,

unceasing demands from everywhere--

agents' whining, producers' dates,

directors' whims, co-stars' tantrums,

the weekly round of gossip and scandal,

cunning journalists and their slander,

plus relentless pressure from home--

do this, do that, buy this, buy that,

sign this film, avoid that--but please,

no matter what, we want more money...

After all, how am I to live?  Everywhere,

the same story, the same scenes:

bare your tits, show your legs,

jiggle your butt, more pelvic thrusts...

plus the compulsory song and dance--

in the pouring rain, on a mountain top,

or on a movie set.  Once that's done,

reduce yourself to a dim-witted showpiece,

until you're reclaimed as the hero's

legitimately wedded wife at the end--

or else, get raped at least once or twice

and turn into a half-crazed avenging angel.

If you don't do this, how will the film sell?

In this business, success comes from pleasing men,

my mother had warned me long before this started.

Then it was a question of bread and butter;

she said when she sent me to that ugly producer.

What was it all about, I wondered,

as I lay with him in his sleazy double bed:

this youth, this body, this bag of skin and bones,

so preciously preserved, so alluring?

You part your legs, look the other way--

a few silly exertions and its all over.

First, it was all so painful,

but then I began to see its utility,

especially when I could pick and choose.

Who can deny or escape it--

the heat, the sensation, the spasm of the hungering body,

the brief, but marvellous release--

the price and privilege of being a star...


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  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape