My So-Called Bollywood Life(8)

By: Nisha Sharma

Winnie held the phone above her head. “I don’t know, Nani. I’m thinking I should focus on this film festival that my club is hosting. I’m still mad about the way Raj broke things off, but it’s time to look toward my future. I’m done with romance.”

Nani snorted. “You’re Indian! We live for romance. And when there is romance, there is passion. Where is your sense of passion right now, beta? Without both romance and passion, you’ll be as boring as Raj’s mother.”


“What? I’ve met her. She’s boring.”

Winnie laughed. “I may love rom-coms, Nani, and I’m definitely passionate about film school, but I’m also aware that star charts aren’t the answer to everything.”

 “And yet those star charts led me to your nana and connected your parents.”

“Luck. There is also such a thing as luck.”

Nani narrowed her eyes. “You sound like you are trying to convince yourself of something you don’t believe. I think I need to come there and smack some sense into you.”

“You should! It’s been so long since you’ve visited. What are you drinking, by the way? Mango lassi?”

Nani looked down at her cup and then up at the screen. “Oh, look at the time. I better go. Bye, beta. Love you!”

Winnie laughed. “Love you, too, Nani.” She hung up and flopped on the bed. Even her grandmother, her staunchest supporter, couldn’t see things her way. Or maybe she was having a hard time convincing other people that her star chart was wrong because she couldn’t really convince herself.

* * *

In her dream, Winnie ran through the fields in a pink gown with lace sleeves. Her hair was crowned with fake white flowers and a long lace veil. She could smell the sunshine and feel the spongy grass under her feet as she traveled up the gentle slope of a hill.

Winnie knew that someone was waiting for her at the top. Anticipation pumped through her, which only spurred her to quicken her pace. The train of her dress trailed behind her, and the jewel-encrusted sandals were fashionable yet functional enough for heroine field running.

 In the distance, mountains rolled into a blue sea. She scanned the horizon, and that’s when she saw him. He wore black pants, a black billowing shirt, a cape, a wide-brimmed hat, and a Zorro mask.

He spun, arms outstretched.

“Shah Rukh Khan from Baazigar?” Winnie said, jaw dropping. “Is that you?” Her voice traveled over the green fields and across the cliffs.

King Khan, the superstar of Bollywood superstars, tore off the mask and lifted an eyebrow in his signature look.

“Why, yes, señorita, it is I.”

Winnie shoved her billowing hair from her face. “You quoted one of your movies! Not Baazigar, but still one of your movies. This is the best dream of my life.”

Shah Rukh Khan swaggered toward her. “I’ve come to deliver a message to you to relieve your doubt.”

“My doubt of what?”

“Of destiny,” he said. “Because those who fight destiny, who fight what’s written in the stars, always end up having the hardest struggle.”

When she reached his side, he gripped her hand and twirled her in a circle. Her veil floated around her shoulders.

“Well, I don’t like my destiny anymore,” she said when she stopped spinning. “I can change it if I want to. It’s the twenty-first century, Shah Rukh. Not everything is about love anymore. Look at the film industry.”

 “You’re right,” he said, and lowered her into a dip. “So are you ready to struggle?”

She was just imagining things because of what Pandit Ohmi said to her that night. None of this was real. But since she was dancing with Shah Rukh Khan and she had nothing to lose, she asked, “You got any advice?”

He pulled her up and in Hindi said, “In life, if you want to become, achieve, or win something, then listen to your heart. If your heart doesn’t say something to you, then close your eyes and take the names of your mother and father like a mantra. Then watch. You’ll achieve everything, and whatever was difficult will become easy. Victory will be yours.”