Ravi Valluri



Ravi Valluri


Once Upon A Time On The Highway

Once Upon A Time On The Highway

7 mins

The atmosphere in the High Court was stiff and stifling despite the air-conditioning in the court in the high profile case between Daniel, his three friends, Susanne, Mark, and Victoria versus the State.

The room was packed like sardines with celebrities, film stars, models, producers, directors, writers, dancers, musicians, electronic and print media, some prominent politicians across the political divide, and civil rights activists among others. They all had an opinion about the case. A noted battery of lawyers representing the charged was dressed in starched white shirts with collared tie beneath their tailored suits.

Daniel was a superstar today on the whose head and chiseled body carried a few hundreds of crores. His maiden feature film, ‘Highway Par Katal’ shattered all previous records, scorched multiplexes, with the trouper being feted with numerous awards.

 His maiden movie raked in moolah much to the delight of the film industry. Post Covid-19 and the lockdown, the industry received a bonanza. In a flash Daniel was to become a celebrity and soon signed several projects consisting of movies and modeling assignments. He also became the heartthrob of a humungous number of fans, particularly of the fairer sex.

Justice Belvalkar neatly perched himself on the seat of justice and a sudden hush prevailed in the courtroom. He was to pronounce the judgment in a case that grabbed headlines for a reasonable period of time. A  country unhinged about their film stars and cricketers invariably gets riveted to a legal case of such a dimension that has all the drama associated with it.

 There was widespread speculation in the media that the judge normally known for his impeccable credentials was under enormous pressure by the film industry and some politicians to acquit the trouper and his friends in the infamous negligent driving case.

‘This case has drawn enormous eyeballs. Upon listening to the arguments advanced by the learned counsels of both the sides, this court holds Daniel Pereira, Mark Vincent, Susanne, and Victoria Gomes guilty. And under section 304 –A of the Indian Penal Code sentences them to a ten-year term rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs ten lakhs each “, pronounced Justice Belvalkar in his baritone voice.

The quartet and their families were crestfallen. There was a virtual pandemonium in the courtroom number 15. The quartet was seen sobbing and stupefied.

All the power, money, fame and clout could not save Daniel and his friends.

Daniel hailed from Goa and was married to a prepossessing girl Martha. She was a competent lawyer and never lost a case in her legal career spanning a decade.

Daniel and family were all God-fearing Catholics who lived life by the book, the Holy Grail, and the Bible. The only son of the family assisted his father at a voguish restaurant called Highway.

Daniel had three passions in life, swimming in the sea, strumming the guitar, and mimicry. He was a popular actor in his school and college who had made a name for himself in one-act plays. Martha got attracted to Daniel seeing his acting skills.

They fell for each other and got married. It was a happy family Daniel was inclined to pursue a career in films which were frowned upon by his parents and Martha made him swear that he would restrict himself only to one-act plays in Goa but never to enter the film world. Daniel reluctantly agreed but he always nursed a desire to join the movie world.


How it all began?

Rahul an inebriated tycoon along his three inebriated friends (which included two couples) were recklessly driving on a newly constructed highway connecting the mountainous region of Kumaon Hills. Daniel was playing the role of Rahul in the film ‘Highway Par Katal’. All the four were drinking and driving by turns with a devil-may-care attitude. Unexpectedly they encountered a fast approaching truck at a bend and Rahul was at the wheels which took a vicious turn and ran over an old man.

In the next frame of the film  Rahul applied the brakes and the four rushed to see the wounded gentleman. The four deliberated as to what should be their next course of action. Wiser counsel prevailed and they tried to resuscitate the grievously injured person and rushed him to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately jaws of death claimed the life of the elderly individual and the foursome were held guilty by the court of law for drunkenness, rash driving, and were sentenced under various provisions of the law. There were several twists and turns in the movie which became a blockbuster.

The Past

A few years before the movie was made, Mark his friends Susanne and Victoria had come over to Goa for a holiday. They had a swim at a beach near Highway restaurant and soon became friends with Daniel and Martha.

Susanne’s father was a reasonably successful distributor of movies and had made a fortune for himself. Susanne and her friends ingratiated themselves to the couple, Daniel and Martha. The visitors from Mumbai stayed for a few days at a nearby resort and would invariably come over to the beach for a morning swim.

Susanne developed a crush on Daniel and implored him to teach her various tricks of swimming in the sea and Daniel was pretty adept at swimming and agreed to teach her different strokes. Soon, the girl from Mumbai started sending WhatsApp images and messages and professing her unabashed love for him.

Daniel was taken indeed aback and was besotted by the bewitching lass from Bollywood. The triumvirate from Mumbai left-back for their destination after a few days. However the secret romance between Daniel and Susanne blossomed and they kept exchanging love messages. 

 Meanwhile Peter Gomes decided to launch his daughter Susanne in a movie. The script was ready and so were the finances but he wanted to launch a new face to cut down costs.

Susanne seized the opportunity to show the pictures of Daniel to her producer father. The father was suitably impressed with the stripling youth, who possessed a six-pack and agreed for a screen test. Daniel was thrilled at the offer, which only earned opprobrium and a firm no from his parents and his wife Martha who reminded him of the promise made to not join the film world.

 Daniel was however not willing to listen to his parents and his wife but to embark to fulfil his dreams and passion. Over the years he had become covetous of his wife’s legal profession and her stupendous success. He thoroughly disliked being constantly under the shadow of Martha’s fortune and star.

 The singular decision taken by the son led to a dispute in the family. Martha made it clear that she would leave her husband if he decided to join films. But Daniel had his way and was  determined to find his place under the sun and he soon landed in the arms of Susanne and in Mumbai to pursue a career in the dream and glitzy world of cinema

Past Forward

‘ Highway Par Katal ‘ was an outstanding success and Daniel had a carved a niche for himself in the tinsel world. The superstar and Martha parted ways and Daniel solemnized his wedding with Susanne much to the chagrin of his parents.

Daniel’s parents expressed their disapproval and did not attend the wedding ceremony and Martha parted ways with her husband. The dramatic turn of events seems to be a mirror image of a movie or a teleserial.

Meanwhile to celebrate the success of the movie and the marriage Daniel his wife, Victoria and Mark went on an expedition in an SUV. It was decided to travel to Goa where it all began.

It was a cool morning in Mumbai and the fabled couple, and friends traveled as bag packers zooming in an ostentatious vehicle. A few hours passed and soon liquor began to flow and the four in turns were driving the SUV. They accelerated and were in a different zone altogether and suddenly the portentous vehicle rammed over an old man just short of Goa with Daniel at the wheels.

In the movie, ‘ Highway Par Katal’ the business tycoon and his friends played good Samaritans and took the injured person to a hospital. But reel life is at variance from real life. And a conscious decision was taken by the celebutante and they did not pause and raced to Goa.

The mood was somber and the group could hardly enjoy the scenic beauty and the holiday. Daniel made a couple of attempts to meet his aged parents but was not accepted. Daniel learned from his parents that the previous afternoon, Martha’s father was killed in a road accident. The trouper decided to meet and commiserate his former wife which was in vain.

The person who was killed in the mishap was none other than Martha’s father and soon the four were arrested. Martha decided to fight the case of her life.

The verdict of Justice Belvalkar was an august requiem, as Martha gathered herself and had a vicious smile on her face with Daniel looking distraught.

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