SPIDERMAN – aaah, the very name gives me goose bumps. I have no shame in admitting that I am one of the biggest fans of Spiderman. Anybody who knows me is aware of the fact that, to have a glimpse of Spiderman, I would do just about anything. I would even stare at those shapeless Spiderman balloons that are sold on the roadside. Years ago, when spiderman 2 released, I was in Andhra and I had to watch the telugu version, but I still enjoyed each time spidey spun web on the villains and said ‘Theeskko’ (take that) ! and for Spiderman 3, well, I watched it first day first show in Chennai along with a bunch of school kids !!And when I get a chance to act as Spiderman, do you think I will miss it that easily?
Yeah guys, I am referring to the recent all India ‘Spiderman Hunt’ that I attended here in Chennai. For the uninitiated, Tobey Maguire (the old spidey) and Sam Raimi (the director of all the previous spiderman series) had some kind of creative differences and so the makers had decided to revamp the entire series once again. They conducted auditions internationally to get a new Spiderman and Chennai was the chosen location for the pan India ‘Spiderman Hunt’. They had advertised this about two months ago in all the local cable TV channels and I had sent them my pictures in the Spiderman costume. These are the pictures I sent :
Well, I got selected with those pictures and they called me for the second round of auditions. The only criterion was to take our own Spiderman costume for the audition and I had two of them! The place was flooded with participants and their parents. Even after reaching 45 mins early, I had to stand at the end of the queue. I guess, people camped there in the previous night itself! There were participants from different parts of India; so I wasn’t the biggest fan of Spiderman after all, I thought!! But what I failed to understand was the presence of girls for the audition. No offence meant to my opposite sex, but what on earth were they doing for a SPIDERMAN audition??? How did they even clear the first round? Probably, they sent manipulated pictures for the first audition! Anyway, while letting the participants inside the hall, they prevented the girls from entering and asked them to leave the premises.
There were two judges to screen us and we all sat in groups outside the booth waiting for our turn. I had to wait for almost 12 hours for my turn to come up. I took a deep breath and went inside. The judge enquired on my whereabouts, which I believe was to make me feel comfortable and then asked me to perform my best. This is what I did :
I knew it wasn’t my best, but even then, I waited anxiously for the judges comment. The judge complimented on my smile and said I have to practice some more with the Spiderman postures. The green light lit and I was selected. The judge then asked me to prepare well for the next days auditions and mentioned that the round would also include film celebrities as participants.
Taking the comments from the judges to heart, I decided to use my smile as the trump card for the third round. I prepared really well for the third audition; I can now show different Spiderman hand gestures and also smile, all at the same time!
After reaching the spot, I happened to see a familiar face near the parking lot. I walked towards the person to understand who it was and oh my gawwdd, it was Dev Anand, yesteryear superstar of Bollywood, in his worn out Spiderman costume.
Me : Sir, Dev Sir, what happened? Why you looking so depressed ? Wait, don’t tell me this is part of your practice; Spiderman is never this sad !
Dev : No beta (son), they aren’t letting me in. I am too old for them it seems.
Me : Oh, they shouldve known that before calling you here, right?, or atleast you should’ve had the sense! So, why dont you go home now?
Dev : What if everyone gets rejected? I still have a chance, right ?
Me : Sigh ! Anyway, better luck next time, sir !
Dev : Grrrr….don’t rub it in, you little *beeeep*
I turned to run, but found Amitabh Bachchan just behind me listening to our conversation. I tried to talk to him, but he seemed very preoccupied. I didn’t want to waste time, and so, went inside the hall. They had a separate cabin for the celebrities to wait; they had to attend auditions along with us though. Once again, we were split into groups and were asked to wait for our turns. I waited anxiously, keeping all the hand movements ready.
One by one, participants started getting inside the booth; some of them came out happy while the rest were in tears. All of a sudden, we started hearing thumping noises from outside. It was getting worse and the things in the hall started shaking vigorously as though we were subjected to a tremor. We all ran outside to see what it was and we found the ever green superstar – Mr. Rajnikanth in a robot outfit :
Rajnikanth (to all of us who came running) : Sorry guys; but a good intro scene, isn’t it ?
Security 1 : No Sir, you cannot go inside the hall like this. You will kill us all; as if your movies aren’t enough!
Rajnikanth : But you have to understand, I had no time. I am coming directly from Shankars ‘Endhiran (Robot)’ shoot and I am stuck in this costume. See, I even got this thing painted, just for the audition. Please let me in, I have no other way !!
Security 2 : Yes sir, you do have a way. (and points to the exit)
Rajnikanth : Do you all firangi (foreign) security guards know who I am and what my power in this country is?
Security 1 : This attitude is not helping at all, sir. Whoever you are, you gotta move out now !
Rajnikanth : Damn you Shankar. I can never get to act as Spiderman again !!
We were asked to gather inside the hall again, but we could still listen to the heated arguments outside! I thought to myself “Poor Rajnikanth, he was so close; with his usual ‘finger-in-the-air’ movements, he would’ve been a tough contender!!”
They called Amitabh Bachchan next; but he didn’t turn up. They called him a few more times but he was no where to be found. Just then, I was feeling a little tired and so I decided to use the restroom. As soon I got inside, I saw a creature inside and got the shock of my life; yeah yeah, my spider instincts didn’t work! But the creature was capable of giving any super hero a heart attack !
Me : Who are you ? I mean, what are you ?
Amitabh : You ignorant fool, I am Amitabh. Cant you recognize me from this head?
Me : Oh, for the love of god, you scared me Sir. But, why are you in this Paa makeup?
Amitabh : You know what these guys did to Dev Anand, right ? I cant take chances. I had to look young and this was the only way.
Me : But sir, how did you manage to appear short ?
Amitabh : This is camera effect my son!
Me : Err….I didn’t get that. Btw, I thought you were here to accompany your son for the audition and then fight with the judges if he doesn’t get selected. What all would you do to run your family in this old age?
Amitabh : What to do!! Ahishek is yet o learn the basics of acting and is right now meeting winners of some soap contest along with his wife!
Me : Oh, I forgot to tell you. They had called you for the audition like about 10 mins back. Please go soon sir.
Amitabh : Thank you! I shall blog about this good deed of yours, son !
Me : Don’t even think about it. Now run!
After getting freshened, I got back to my seat and had a chat with a few other participants. They asked SRK to come in. SRK got up from his seat and before entering the booth, he flaunted his Tag Heur watch and also managed to give a flying kiss to Karan Johar who had accompanied him.
Tamil actor-politician Vijaykanth was seen practicing his moves outside the hall. He looked really dedicated for the part; I mean his eyes itself had all that it required to be a good Spiderman.
Watching all this made me a little nervous and so even I started getting back to my practice session. Just then, another south superstar, Mohanlal came running inside the hall. He asked the authorities and got seated while still puffing and panting. He turned back and asked if anyone has an extra costume. He said he was on his way for the audition when his fans mobbed him and started abusing him for his recent releases. They even tore his Spiderman costume when they knew that he was going to audition for the role. Being a typical mallu, I volunteered to give him the costume, but told him that I could give it to him only after I am done with my participation. He seemed relieved and in no time went off to sleep in his seat, snoring away to glory! Poor guy, he must have had a tough time with his fans!! I then wondered why only these granddads appeared for the audition; the young actors don’t want to be Spiderman or what ?
‘Vimmuuu’, they called out. Woah ! This is it ! This is my ticket to fame! I closed my eyes, thought on all my moves and then went inside the audition booth.
Judge 1 : Vimmuuu, isn’t it ?
Me : Yes.
Judge 1 : Ok, show us what you have got ?
Me : Excuse me?
Judge 1 : I mean, perform !
Me : Oh, ok. Here goes :
Judge 2 : Good show. You have got a good smile. But we want you to perform something challenging.
Me : Hmm…Ok, check this out :
Judge 2 : No, this tilting of your head and that smile isn’t working Vimmuuu!
Judge 1 : Something challenging; we want something really challenging. You have got a good smile, but Spiderman is not all about smiles. He needs to do stunts. So, show us what you have…I mean, perform !
Me : Hmmm….Take this :
Judge 1 : You know what Vimmuuu, its nice. You really have a good smile and….
Me (interrupting) : How many times are you going to repeat that ?
Judge 2 : Yeah, but we expected something really challenging from you. So, sorry !!
The red light showed up, with a buzzer !
It took me a little while to sink into the fact that I got rejected. I stepped out of the booth with a blank mind. The word ‘Sorry’ kept echoing in my ear for about 5 mins. I walked towards the main hall and on my way, I came across a few participants jumping with joy while others crying over the phone. Amitabh was seen crying in his Paa makeup while SRK, who got selected, was trying to pacify him. I didn’t feel bad for anyone, my feelings became numb! I had let myself down and all of them who were supporting me.
Mohanlal, I guess, was waiting for me to come out and as soon as he saw me, he came running asking for the costume. I simply stared at him and couldn’t say anything.
Mohanlal : Aliyaaa(dude), you aren’t blinking ! Is everything ok with the costume?
Me : Huh?
Mohanlal : COSTUME !! uduppu (dress), its ok, right?
Me : Haan (and I walked on)
Mohanlal : Don’t go! Don’t go! Give me the costume, please? I am next!
Me (got into a frustrated mode and started shouting at him) : Do you want me to give it to you here, right now? Atleast wait till I get into the restroom and change ! Hmmpphh!
Mohanlal : ok ok, be careful, don’t tear it!
Me : Grrrrr…!
Mohanlal : ok ok, its yours ! Remove it however you want !
After changing, I gave him the costume. In a few mins, he came out of the restroom dressed. Though he looked funny, I wished him good luck and also advised him to tuck his tummy in during the audition.
He went in and I waited outside the booth to get my costume back.
Judge 1 : Mr. Lal, are you sure you are comfortable in that costume? You are looking weird! Is everything alright?
Mohanlal : mmmm…mmm…mmm…..
Judge 2 : hmmm…ok perform, Mr. Lal !
Mohanlal : mmm…mm…mmm….
Judge 1 : Mr. Lal, for Petes’ sake, atleast breathe out. !
Mohanlal : Savaari Giri Giri ** (and releases a whole lot of air)
Me (from outside) : you idiot ! What the hell are you doing to my costume ? Aaaahhhhhhh…..
And I saw the red light glowing again !!!
My trysts with the Spiderman audition ended there. I even lost my favourite Spiderman costume at the end of the day. While returning, I happened to see Dev Anand standing in the same position at the same spot. Some people never quit, I thought !!
The auditions went on for almost three months; SRK got rejected in the Asia Pacific round where he had to compete against Jackie Chan. The makers finally zeroed in on a British actor – Andrew Garfield.
This chap, my friends, is the new Spiderman !!
* loosely based on an audition I attended recently!
** savaari giri giri – a famous punchline from one of mohanlals movies, which actually has no meaning at all.