My So-Called Bollywood Life(82)

By: Nisha Sharma

“My daughter is the one who organized the event,” Winnie’s father said proudly. “She took care of everything.”

 “It’s an absolute honor to meet you,” Winnie said. “I’m surprised, since we assumed you were attending the Princeton Academy Student Film Festival in a few weeks.”

“I was in town. Your teacher called and said something exciting about a flash festival. Since it’s all the rage, I decided to come.”

“Well, we appreciate your time.”

“My pleasure. Is your movie in the lineup, Winnie?”

“Unfortunately, no,” she said.

“Winnie has been a leading member of the Princeton Academy film club for years,” Mr. Reece said. “The previous faculty advisor, Ms. Jackson, raves about Winnie as well. She may not write, direct, or produce, but Winnie knows more about film than most theorists I know.”

“You’re applying to NYU?” Gurinder Chadha said.

“Yes, ma’am. South Asian film studies.”

“Interesting. If you are applying, your qualifications must be very impressive.”

Winnie had to squeeze her hands into fists at her side to prevent herself from waving them in the air like a lunatic. “Well, other than the film club and film festival at school, I’ve attended NYU’s summer film camp, and I’ve had a few of my movie reviews published.”

“Ms. Chadha, Winnie is being modest,” Eric chimed in. “She’s worked at this theater for months. She has a special gift that I know very few people possess these days. She can splice film.”

 “That’s marvelous,” Gurinder said. “I have never met someone younger than the age of forty who can splice film.”

“Well,” Winnie said, “I love holding film strips and piecing them together. I feel like I had a part in putting the movie on-screen.”

Gurinder reached into her small clutch and removed a business card. She handed it over to Winnie. “Let’s talk after the festival, but I want to give you this first in case I forget. I’m in the process of starting a new project, and I could use someone who knows how to handle thirty-five-millimeter film. There is also a bit of theory involved. Would that be of interest to you?”

Winnie looked at Eric, Mr. Reece, and her father’s smiling face before responding. “I would be honored.”

“And if you know of any students interested in producing…”

“You should check the second short in the lineup. Dev Khanna is going to be a star.”

Gurinder made a note on her phone. “I’ll pay close attention, then,” she said.

“We can show you around,” Mr. Reece said, motioning to Winnie’s father. “We are the chaperones tonight, it seems.”

“Great,” Gurinder said. “Let’s get going!”

Winnie thanked Gurinder one more time before she rejoined Bridget and Jai. “I can’t believe she’s here,” Winnie whispered. “I spoke with Gurinder Chadha. She’s my hero. Have you guys seen Viceroy’s House? Bend It Like Beckham? I need to get her autograph. My hands are so sweaty! I hope she didn’t notice.”

 “The surprises aren’t over yet,” Bridget said. “It looks like you have one more person to talk to before we get started.” She pointed over Winnie’s shoulder.

Winnie turned to look. Raj stood to the side with his ticket in one hand, examining a film summary on an easel.

“Do you want me to kick him out?” Jai muttered.

“No,” she said. “We’re good. We’re…friends. Hey, Raj!”

Raj looked up and waved to her. He hesitated when he saw Bridget tapping her fist against her palm next to Winnie.

“You guys, can you go do your thing? We’re about to start.”

Bridget grumbled, but she grabbed Henry’s hand and pulled him away. Jai followed.

“I had to come,” Raj said when he approached her. “Can we hug? Is it weird?”

“Well, now that you are asking if it’s weird,” she said with a laugh, and then squeezed him around the waist. “Gurinder Chadha is here. Did you do that?”

“I may have told Mr. Reece about her schedule. He did the rest.”