Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Celebrity Face

When Arjun fell with a thud on my new neighbor's freshly planted flower-bed life-changing events were set in motion. We were in our early teens at the time. Mrs. Pai had been watering the plants that summer afternoon.

She strode over purposefully and grabbed him by collar of his shirt. I recoiled reflexively fearing she would slap him next. From where I stood I could not see the expression on her face though grief, indignation and outrage or a combination thereof seemed likely.

Just at the moment she set her eyes upon him, it happened. "By God, you look exactly like the young Dev Anand !!" she exclaimed her voice quivering with excitement. The pulverized plants and the question of his unauthorized presence in her garden were completely forgotten.

I crept outside and was soon joined across the fence by Mr, Pai. Arjun looked rather bewildered at the turn of events. "My wife is a big fan of Dev Anand" Mr Pai said by way of explanation and apology for her transfixion at his face.

I stared at my childhood friend with new eyes. The resemblance was as unmistakable as it was remarkable. I knew this guy for years and had never noticed. That the obvious should have to be discovered by Mrs Pai defied logic.

Later that evening at a classmate's birthday party I remarked "Anyone ever notice the resemblance between Arjun and Dev Anand ?" A lot of eyes turned on him accompanied by expressions of astonishment. He was officially the Dev Anand look-alike from that day on.

In time, Arjun would go on to acquire the gait, speech and mannerisms of the star he resembled. It was almost a fortunate coincidence that he was a natural on stage and often had the lead role in school theatrical productions. Arjun and academics had a troubled relationship even prior Mrs Pai's discovery. Now the two were formally divorced. He did end up in Mumbai years later even if not on silver-screen. Overall, I think he never reached his full potential at anything.

I have a co-worker who resembles Richard Gere with a smile to match. Having known Arjun, I wonder if it comes naturally or was acquired over time. Every time I see him, I think Richard Gere. No one seems to know his name or even care that they don't. Gere-look-alike has over-taken the real person that he is.

Our collective attitude towards this man reminds me of how Mrs. Pai's chance observation changed our perception of Arjun and his life. To have one's identity hi-jacked by a celebrity face seems to be a cruel punishment of destiny.

1 comment:

bleu said...

you look exactly like the young Dev Anand !!


To have one's identity hi-jacked by a celebrity face seems to be a cruel punishment of destiny.

well said. If such discoveries happen easrly, then pressure of comparison and expectation builds methinks.