4 mins 9.2K 4 mins 9.2K

Narrator: Everyone has one person, who they are internally bound to, a person who elevates them to a whole different level, a person who brings out the best in them, a person who challenges them more than anyone else; a person against whom, losing, is a risk they cannot afford, and will go to all lengths and beyond, to prove their metal.

In the heart of the state of Uttar Pradesh, lies Lucknow, famous for its culture and forms of art. The city’s most celebrated theatre group, Manchkriti, was back for its annual show in the city, promising to deliver a show like never before.

Faiz and Ali were the two-most promising actors of the group, both pushing each other to achieve new heights. One could say, there existed a friendly, competitive rivalry, between the two. In fact, Ali learnt everything he knew about acting from, Faiz and Faiz’s father, Mr. Mohammad Alam, who was also the Director of the theatre group.

All the other actors of the group and the people all over, used to debate, about which among the two was the better actor. Both Faiz and Ali had their fans, with each set of fans trying to convince the other about the proficiency of their chosen favourite against theirs. However, Ali and Faiz never let anything come between their friendship.

So, the much awaited day was here, with crowds pouring in the Sangeet Natak Academy Auditorium, for a chance to watch Manchkriti perform their adaptation of Premchand’s Kafaan. After two hours of exhilarating entertainment, the crowd walked out of the auditorium in delight. Everyone was pretty impressed with Ali’s performance as Ghisu, which was quite a challenging role to play. However, Faiz failed to leave a mark on the audience, as none seemed too interested in talking about his performance. Everyone had finally found out the better actor among them, and it was, Ali, by a long margin. Even Mr. Alam praised Ali’s performance.

Faiz did not like the way everyone appreciated Ali’s work, but he kept his feelings bottled up. After all, he was the one who taught Ali the A-Z of acting. The morning newspapers added to his displeasure, with every single one of the critics, rendering Ali as the better actor. It was just one play; he always had the chance to bounce back.

However, over the course of a few years, Ali had taken the limelight, and Faiz was forced to take the backseat. Ali loved all the attention he could get. He even earned himself a T.V. serial contract, with Faiz lost in oblivion. Faiz would come drunk to the rehearsals, and submitted himself to drugs, sometimes even going crazier in the night. Mr. Alam was taken aback by his behaviour, and Faiz was not even featured in most plays. The friendly competition had turned into a bitter rivalry, with the group returning to Lucknow, the city where it all started, for their annual play.

Faiz requested Mr. Alam for one last shot at a major role, but was turned down. He pleaded and begged, but his plea was rejected.

He went up to Ali, and confronted him,

Faiz: They will never know who the better actor is...

Ali: They do, and it’s me…

Faiz: Give me one last chance to prove them wrong, then…

Ali: I don’t think we can afford you to mess up another one of our plays…

Faiz: I see… you don’t want to risk losing… (Ali flips) did I touch a nerve there?

Ali: You know what?? Let’s do it...one last time…you and me

Faiz was finally given the role, he so desperately wanted, as a result of Ali’s appeal to Mr. Alam. The day was here, and this time, they were to perform ‘Dirty Hands’, a political thriller. It was a nerve-racking play, keeping the Lucknow crowd on the edge of their seats.

At the end of the act, Faiz received a standing ovation. Offstage, Mr. Alam and the rest of the cast congratulated him on his stunning performance. As the play reached its last scene, in which Faiz was supposed to be hit by a bullet, something unbelievable happened: as Faiz fell on the hidden mattress, the theater erupted in a thunderous applause. The death scene was acted so exquisitely that the crowd was not able to control their emotions, as tears were rolling down their eyes. Mr. Alam and the cast gathered around Faiz to congratulate him—only to find out that he was bleeding profusely. As the white ceiling lights enveloped him, he whispered, "I proved it."

Faiz risked his life for he could not afford the risk of losing yet again…

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