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The Day I Got Shot

Updated on May 18, 2010

Living In A Violent World

In this violent world, getting shot at is a distinct possibility and something we must accept as a harsh reality. But to be a target twice in one lifetime should be enough to reinforce one’s belief in God and kismet. For me, the first time was when I was hijacked at gunpoint in Kenya. The second time was no less dramatic but in different fashion, many years later in the western Indian city of Pune.

A TV Commercial

But before I get into the nitty-gritty of the second episode, let me tell you what happened at the park last evening. There I was, doing my limbering up thing when up walks my young friend Ranjan. “Hi Sabu” he says, “Would you like to take part in a TV commercial”? I nod, surprised that anyone would consider me model material.

Ranjan introduces me to Smitha, a pretty young lady who is part of the casting crew of a film production company. Before I know it, there I am holding against my chest a white board with my name on it. You know the way prisoners do. I try desperately to cover the pronounced bald patch on my head with my thinning hair before Smitha photographs me, I hope, into fame and posterity. I have no idea whether a serious look or a cheesy grin is more likely to impress the powers-that-be. The final product I guess is somewhere in-between.

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr

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Image Courtesy Remove frame

The Bald and the Beautiful

Smitha mentions that she is looking for some more faces. Just then, I notice Pranay and his wife Mala entering the park. I think Mala, with her graceful looks, slim figure and greying hair will make a nice model and suggest this to Smitha who agrees that Mala is what she has in mind. I still continue to harbour doubts as to how my bald pate will figure in the scheme of things.

Smitha asks Mala and me to be ready by 6 o’clock the next morning when a taxi will pick us up. We are both to be dressed much as we are, in sporty wear and as a precaution, we should also carry alternate sets of formal wear, should the Director of the shoot decide on a last-minute change.

We Reach The Site

Early next morning I am rushing around packing into a bag what I hope are appropriate changes of attire. Mala has already arrived. Two boiled eggs lie uneaten and although I hate leaving home on an empty stomach, I reason that this is a small sacrifice for the fame that beckons so suddenly.

Mala, even at that unearthly hour, is her usual radiant self, silver-grey hair setting off the mauve tracksuit. She informs me that another hopeful star has to be picked up enroute. I am pleasantly surprised when this turns out to be my old friend Ahmed, who I know has done a bit of modeling earlier. We reach the shopping mall where the shoot is to take place around seven.

The shops are still closed at that early hour. A few security men look at us disinterestedly. The three of us exchange desultory conversation. Like me, Mala is a first-timer. She too is carrying a number of changes. Ahmed has a grey jacket over a white tee shirt and jeans and carries nothing else. Perhaps he knows more than we do.

The Competition Heats Up

We are soon joined by two young men who it turns out are studying at the local Film Institute—one with a small goatee is studying to be an actor, the other wishes to be a director. A little while later along comes a sharp-featured, fair-looking, well-constructed young lady. Ah, she must be the lead actress, I think. It turns out she is an Iranian from the US, a journalist visiting family in Pune. She carries an issue of Foreign Affairs , a learned magazine that immediately positions her as a beauty with brains. A short while later, another young man approaches the group and introduces himself as Ashutosh. He is a professor at a local engineering college.

So, the competition is heating up, I say to myself, as I try to gauge how each of them would look in front of a TV camera and what I could do to outsmart them. Surprisingly, no one has a clue what the shoot is about. Smitha isn’t telling either. Come to think of it, we form a motley crew. What product could this be—cutting across age groups, interests, clothes and hairstyles?

Breaking the Fast

It is now getting on to 8 o’clock and those little mice in my stomach are ready to revolt. Almost on cue, two men appear carrying baskets which we are told contain our breakfast. The first thing out of the basket is halwa (a sweetmeat usually eaten after lunch or dinner) and a small pouch containing chili pickle. Quite a bizarre combination for breakfast. Perhaps the chef has a keen sense of humour. The mystery is solved when an omlette appears next wrapped in two slices of bread.  These are quickly devoured.

The Plot Thickens

Meanwhile the casting director, another young woman named Radhika, appears. She seems to know most of the people around and greets Ahmed affectionately. Ahmed quizzes her about the nature of the shoot. She is not forthcoming either. The suspense is finally broken when one of the young men says he has heard that the product is a motorcycle and one of Bollywood’s hottest attractions named Ranbir Kapoor is the star. This would explain the long delay as movie stars are not known to be icons of punctuality.

But what, I wonder, are grey-haired women and balding men doing in a TV shoot for a motorcycle? The obvious target market for a mobike is youth. “Perhaps we are meant just to be part of the décor or a crowd,” says Mala. Or perhaps they wish to show parents who encourage mobike riding, I reason, in which case we may still win more than a walk-on part.

Patience Is the Name of the Game

The morning wears on and between Radhika and Smitha, we are cajoled and consoled and shown visions of greatness whenever anyone threatens to depart. Both of them are in constant contact with the production team through a walkie-talkie handset and we are repeatedly told that things are getting ready.

Ahmed tells us that waiting is part of this game. The location of the set is still a secret. Eventually, the two aspiring students are called and a car takes them to the set. Things seem to be moving at last. The Iranian girl is next.

I am hoping that since Mala and I were together at the park, we will be cast together. But my hopes are dashed when Smitha says that Ahmed and Mala have been called. That leaves me and the Professor still waiting. The clock meanwhile has struck One. We have been waiting for six hours. Fame doesn’t come easy I guess. Even great stars have had to wait, albeit in more comfortable surroundings.

Male Competitiveness

Ahmed and Mala return. When I ask Ahmed what transpired, he is deliciously vague. “Go and see for yourself,” he says. I am intrigued by his response and figure that the genes that control male competitiveness are making him act the way he is.

Bull fight

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Image Courtesy Remove frame

The Wait Ends

Finally, the great moment comes. Apologising profusely, Smitha ushers the Professor and me into the car and bids us good luck. We are driven to a park nearby where another crew member named Sandeep asks us to wait under a big tree. Sandeep asks me to change my shoes saying the Director is a very finicky person and my white shoes may appear incongruous in the shot. I think that is strange considering I am wearing sports clothes but decide to keep my opinion to myself.

He asks me to try on his shoes and says he will try and find another pair before the shoot starts.  I sit on the bench, untie my laces and remove one shoe. The Professor is facing me and we are talking about how long the entire episode has taken. Both of us swear that we shall never volunteer for a TV shoot again.

Just as I bend to put on one of Sandeep’s gargantuan shoes, there is a loud thud. The professor looks up and startled, leaps backwards, arms flailing. I turn around to see that a large greenish yellow object that looks like a mango has fallen from the tree onto the nearby road. The object is so big that a man would have difficulty putting his arms around it. With one of my shoes on and one of Sandeep’s, I limp towards a security man who has run towards the tree and ask him to remove the mango so that there is no danger to oncoming traffic. 


By this time, Sandeep is back. He shakes my hand and says “Well done. The Director is happy with the shot”. “What shot?” I ask. The crew member says there were two cameras focused on us during the entire episode. The shot was for a mango-based soft drink advertisement and the idea was to record our natural, unrehearsed reactions to the falling mango.

It seems ours was the first shot that went off without a hitch. So my worthy competitors lost out for no fault of their own. I do not know whether our shot will live beyond the editing table as they still have to shoot at other locations including one at the airport where these large mangoes will come off the belt conveyor.

The Repeater

So this, my dear friend is how I ended up being a target for the second time in my life. And it is true I almost died—of boredom that is.

In retrospect, the entire experience was interesting. I met new people and learnt that patience is a virtue well worth having. Yes, if they ask me I shall volunteer again. Just so long as they ensure the mango does not land on my head, and the shot they use is film in a camera and not buckshot.

On Air At Last


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    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 7 years ago

      Hi Sabu,

      A very interesting read. If one has to get shot, this is the way to go. I especially love that they never told you what you were being shot for, a very clever tactic if you ask me. And apparently, they got what they were looking for, natural unrehearsed acting. I hope you're in the final cut. And, if you are, sure wish I could see it :)

      I once had a real gun pressed to my head many years ago, and given the choice, this is the way I'd go every time.

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thank you for reading and for your comments Trish. You are so right. If one has to be shot, this is the only way (especially if you want to live to talk about it) LOL.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Interesting little story which held my interest to the end. Perhaps you should try for a movie role!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I agree with grabbed my interest at the very beginning and carried me like a speeding bullet to the end. :)

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thank you Ralph and ST. The only movie role anyone would find me suitable for is that of a villain LOL.

      Glad you enjoyed this Hub. Cheers.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York

      "Dying of boredom...." I completely understand how it might have felt waiting endlessly for the shoot. I've been there myself. Even I vowed never to go for it again. Its good that it ended well for you otherwise you would've regretted being there. Even though such experiences (mango unexpectedly falling)freak us out temporarily, yet, I feel such things add a bit of adventure to our stagnant lives. In the process, we get some precious moments to remember for the rest of our lives. :) A very interesting read.

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      So true Anjali-"these are precious moments to remember for the rest of our lives"- so nicely put.

      Thank you for reading.

    • billy sidhu profile image

      billy sidhu 7 years ago

      hey nanbhaiya- didnt know u were coming on a commercial- it must have been funny to see your astonished faces!! great read! loved it and didnt figure till the last that this was "the shot"

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Hi Bils. I thought I would surprise you all. I still don't know whether I will go beyond the editing table. Shall keep you informed. Love.

    • Feline Prophet profile image

      Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

      Haha, that was an entertaining tale, sabu. And you're lucky the mango didn't fall on your head - think of the ignominy of being done in by a fruit! :P

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      Good luck to your road to fame.Do they pay you at least for the time you were waiting and filmed.

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thank you FP and Dream On. Nice of you to have read my Hub.

      Yes FP, I am quite a specialist at ignominous things so I must thank my stars I didn't end up adding to the list. Did I ever mention that the only time I visited Paris, a friend and I were sitting having coffee on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées when a flower pot broke from its moorings and fell, missing my shoulder narrowly. How I rue it did not hit my shoulder. I may have been able to claim the Légion d'honneur. LOL Cheers.

      And yes, Dream On, we were paid for our time, but sadly a pittance.

    • Jaspal profile image

      Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Good one Sabu! Do let me know when this commercial finally appears on TV .. would love to watch it and actually see the reaction on your face! :)

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Will do Jaspal. There is a strong chance I shall end up on the editing table, but if that doesn't happen, I would love to see my own expression. Thanks for your comments.

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      I loved your story! I love your writing style! I am a big fan


    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      That is just so nice of you Dorsi. Three Hubs in a row. WOW! A big Thank You for reading.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      Ahhh... to wake up in the morning and read an innocent tale that raises a smile...:-) Good one Sabu, thanks :-)

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thanks for reading De Greek. Have a nice day ahead.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      How cleverly you held our attention until the very end! Well done! But mangoes so large a man would have difficulty getting his arms around them? Remind me never to sit under a mango tree in Pune!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      LOL - thanks for visiting, JamaGenee. Wishing you well.

    • Minilady profile image

      Minilady 7 years ago

      Enjoyed reading your piece. The title first made me imagine you facing a rifle! :)

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thank you for visiting minilady. I have actually faced a shotgun in real life (read my Hub - Travels in Kenya).

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 7 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Most amusing, Sabu!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thank you for your comment, Doc Snow. Glad you enjoyed it. You would be happy to know it is finally on air. I am attaching the youtube link.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Quite Entertaining Sabu! Enjoyed! Watched yr ad on youtube. I will try to keep an eye on yr ad while watching tv.

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thank you for your kind words Soumya.I'm afraid the chances of seeing the ad on TV are rather low as I think it has been withdrawn. I didn't get to see it myself but my wife did so I can now claim to be on the road to stardom LOL.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Great story, brother Sabu! I loved it and the vid is hilarious!

      Thanks so much for lightening up my day.

      Love and peace


    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 7 years ago

      This reminds me of a show I use to watch here called "Candid Camera" it was such a funny show. Capturing people put in awkward situations and being started right out of their shorts.he he. Nice to be shot at sometimes in a nice way:0)

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Thank you for visiting Brother Tony and Saddlerider. It gives me immense happiness to know you enjoyed this Hub.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Irwin 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      sabu singh~ I loved the way you wrote this story- I was defintely not dying of boredom reading it. I was in suspense and thought the commercial quite clever. Great Hub!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 6 years ago

      Thank you ever so much for visiting and for your kind comments, Izettl. Glad you enjoyed this Hub.

    • nettraveller profile image

      nettraveller 6 years ago from USA

      This was hilarious!

      You had me going for a while, I thought this was going to be a very serious hub. Your description of the whole ordeal was very entertaining, and there you were at the shoot, white shoes and all. Had you heard of this drink before, and is it now one of your favorites?

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 6 years ago

      I am glad you enjoyed this Hub netttraveller. Thank you for your kind comments.

      Yes I have partaken of this mango drink called Frooti, but my true love is the harder stuff.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 6 years ago from Australia

      Great story and as others have said you had me right till the end! Funny video to go with the story!

      btw; I have Mango juice every morning with my breakfast, I wonder if they are made from the Mangos that come from your tree :-)

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 6 years ago

      Many thanks for your kind comment, agvulpes. In today's global village, it is quite possible that the mangos in the mango juice are from India. Enjoy your breakfast, my friend.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 6 years ago from Australia

      Sabu singh how true that statement is! The label tells me that this Mango Juice may be made from Local and/or Imported Mangos! I still enjoy and I hope your breakfast serves your day well :)

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