Harry was not impressed with Dum Dum, now called Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. The old airport used to be much better than Bombay airport, but the new airport didn’t compare well with the new Bombay airport. However, baggage clearance was speedy. As he stepped out, Natasha waved out to him and Arjun rushed forward to take charge of his trolley. He was glad to see his BMW; Arjun had looked after it well.
“Why are you so quiet, dad?” enquired Arjun.
“The growl of the engine and the surge reminded me of a take-off from my Cessna flying days. In my rear view mirror it appears that the world has come to a standstill,” replied Harry.
“I too love this car; you have done a lot for me.”
“I did all that when I could. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they would never end.”
“Those good old days will return, dad. I promise you.”
“Your mom’s guidance made me think like a businessman and put my innovation to good use. That’s how I could spend so much money on this car.”
“Yeah, dad. And now you have become a philosopher, teacher and R&D specialist.”
“Okay! Now that you are here, let’s go all out and get things done.”
“Sure, dad, we will do it.”
“Hey. Harry, why don’t you talk to me, I am also in the car,” said Natasha from the rear seat.
“I wish you weren’t here,” said Harry, turning to look behind. “Your mom is worried about you.”
“What?” screamed Natasha, banging the door. “Stop the car, I want to get out.”
“Calm down, Natasha. And dad, please don’t aggravate the situation, we will explain everything. Give us some time,” intervened Arjun.
“Mom is always stressed. I can’t help it if she’s like that,” said Natasha.
“Why don’t you sober down a bit?” asked Harry.
“Because you only care for Raima, not for me.”
“I have nothing to do with your relationship with Raima, keep that to yourself. You are taking a lot of liberties with your mother.”
“You just want to blame me. Raima goes scot-free for whatever she does.”
“The court case has not been easy on her. She kept her bitter past to herself while her mother was dead to the world. Now that the world sympathies with her, she has to prove a point by overcoming self-pity and getting on with her life. This has made her ambitious and I have nothing against that.”
“And now that she’s so pre-occupied, you have come away to Calcutta. So have I. What’s wrong with that? Why is mom so paranoid?”
“Everything was going well till you decided to freak out.”
Arjun stepped in. “No, it’s nothing like that, it’s all worked out well. When Swapna was talking to me, Alok Chatterjee was creating a problem.”
“I set him straight. The rascal was ogling at me and touching me everywhere. I refused to shoot with him,” said Natasha.
“What are we talking about?” asked Harry.
Arjun and Natasha explained that the latter had signed up for an ad film and went on to narrate the script. Natasha exploded when Harry did not think much of it. She thought he was being unfair. He liked everything that Raima did, but was critical of her.
“Just because I am your step-daughter,” she said, bursting into tears.
“We have no such relationship, nor is your mother my wife. She and I have a deeper connection which defies definition.”
“We have already won the battle by getting rid of the dirty old man,” said Arjun, coming to Natasha’s rescue. “Harry can take his place. It’s only the three who have to team up to do the shoot.”
“So, I am to be the dirty old man?” Harry sounded angry for the first time.
“Please do it for me,” pleaded Natasha.
“Let me talk to your mother first,” said Harry.
Later in the evening, Harry called Swapna to inform her.
“Natasha is going through a lot, herself,” said Swapna. She had a miserable time growing up with an alcoholic dad. She keeps it to herself but all this talk of Raima is bringing back memories of her dad getting fresh with her. Which is why she envies Raima who had not been in touch with her. So please do her a good turn now.”
“I now realise why she is the way she is. But this film script is rather chauvinistic,” replied Harry.
“I am sure you can find a way out.”
Harry ended the call and turned to Arjun and Natasha. “Okay, guys, call Alok Chatterjee to my office tomorrow morning.” They were all thrilled.
The next morning Harry was woken up by a call from Swapna who sounded excited.
“Have you seen the pictures from Bombay Times I sent it to you on WhatsApp?”
“Looks like Raima’s event was a big hit,” remarked Harry after quickly going through her messages. “I have already thought of something to improve Natasha’s ad film script. The director Alok is expected any moment.”
At the Park Circus tram junction everyone was busy setting up the shoot for a motorcycle ad. Sporting a Tom Cruise look, Arjun was adjusting his Maui Jim Titanium Sport sunglasses in the mirror.
The director called out, “Ready, quiet, please, roll camera, action.”
“Dad, we need to buy this bike, it’s the best I have seen.”
Dad looks at the monster and then at his son. “Dangerous looking,” he says.
“But very sturdy. Let’s take it for a spin.”
Dad gets excited and nods in approval. The son takes the handle and dad, the pillion.
“Let’s check her pick up,” says the son, accelerates to full throttle and zooms past a woman in red.
She gets a start, her skirt flying up with the gush of wind, revealing her sexy legs and red thongs. Dad gets an eyeful and remembers Marilyn Monroe in the film The Seven Year Itch.
“What a pick up, boy,” he says.
The son takes a U-turn and goes back to the spot where the woman in red is petrified to see the motorcycle come her way again. He brakes suddenly and the motorcycle stops right there. Dad’s cheek land on the protruding boobs of the woman who is bending down to hold her skirt from flaring up. Dad is elated at the warmth of the touch.
“How are the brakes?” asks the rider.
“Soft and instant,” replies dad, feeling the lingering warmth on his cheeks.
The camera now focuses on the motorcycle’s features.
“Very nice,” said Harry as he watched the edited clip with Natasha and Alok.
“We didn’t need many takes and editing was easy,” said Alok. He was so pleased that he was ready to sign Natasha for his next ad film.
Natasha now felt more independent as she walked out of the door. Arjun was busy with the presentation for Haldia Refinery the next day with his dad.
Harry was a bit disturbed as he described the shoot to Swapna when she called. He had found the original script sexist. He told her how he had changed it as much as he could, but not entirely to his satisfaction. Swapna reassured him that he had done his best and Natasha was happy with the outcome. Her impression of Harry had changed for the better. She was heading home to personally thank him.
To be continued…