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CITY OF DREAMS

Arfi Lamba | August 17, 2012


Catch Arfi on http://awaaraa-hoon.blogspot.in

How I have dreaded about sharing my experiences of what the shooting for Prague was like for me. But then, what is a man, who hath not faced his fears? So, here I go!

The night we were ready to leave Prague and fly off, Prague was still not ready to leave me. I was detained at the airport for a few hours over a small confusion over some papers and I had to stay another night. This time, I was alone as the whole crew flew off and it was between both of us. Me and the city. And I must censor the details but admit at the same time that I had one of the most memorable nights of my life. It solved a lot of mysteries in the form a love found and lost the same night.

Prague is complete. It recently premiered at the Osian Cinefan Film Festival in Delhi. But I have still not seen it. I have always felt a certain chill run down my spine whenever this was mentioned or I have entered the room where someone was watching it at the office of our producers. I cannot explain it. But may be I will never watch my work. I have often been too critical of my work. I have felt that I have double standards, a harsher one for myself for sure.

The word 'Prague' conjures up memories that go beyond the film, the sets and shooting. It just spins a majestic old town, with me in it, living a tale that was away from the story of the character I was enacting.


Prague introduced me to the element of feeling and living mysticism in a different way. Prague introduced me to Salvador Dali and to Kafka. To its wonderful music. To Dark theatre, to streets and monuments that don't tell stories but inspire you to weave them on your own. It's a town where you go, not to know the history behind its structures, but to live it and discover it. I made so many wonderful friends there. The nightlife was just awesome. And the local beer …ah! Lets not even go there.

Prague, the film, is not the usual run of the mill, big budget film. Still, the film is made on a very decent budget for an indie film too. There were exhaustive shoots every day and partying every night. Though I never had a real full day of engagement there like our protagonist, but every evening was a full evening to discover the city, its nightlife, its people and its mysticism. How I remember securing this role! I almost gave up when I was called for an audition for the sixth time.

Within 24 hrs of landing in Prague, I had lost my passport, my Blackberry, all the money I was carrying, my Sony Cybershot and much more. I do not believe in coincidences of life. Like Emerson, I believe that life is like a mathematical equation and being an engineer, I know that no variables can be there just for the sake of fun or to confuse you. Everything has a purpose; whether it is to add to the mystery or help you lift a veil, that's for you to discover. So I knew that my equation with Prague is not just what it looks. I am not just there for the shoot. But what else could it be, is what troubles me the most even though I have some answers by now.

Anyhow, the shooting started. Prague, the movie, taught me how to stay clam in a storm. How to listen to the beat of my own heart in the cacophony of sounds around me and how to be with all yet stay alone. It was a difficult shoot, for my character existed on a plane that was fabricated by the devastating guilt of the protagonist. My character was in agony and wanted revenge but actually he did not exist and was just a projection. I know, it's too complicated to explain and I am sure you will be able to understand my dilemma once you watch the film (do watch it, would love to hear the feedback). To interpret it and to understand the layers, took a lot out of me.

It's been a while since Prague's shooting got over, but I am still searching for THAT Arfi in me(luckily I get to play a character that's named after me :-D). Somewhere I want to console him and want to be his friend and tell him it's okay to be betrayed and want to inspire him to move on. How I would have loved to believe that I am an actor that switches off from the characters he plays, but strange and uncomfortable is this realization that this one has stayed with me for longer than it should have...

While I would walk every night in Prague, in its lanes and bylanes, I would often feel as if I am being followed, but I would never feel scared. There was a familiarity in that space for me. I knew Prague was playing tricks on me. I have never been so lost and yet present at any other place in my life.

Of all the monuments Charles Bridge was my favorite. Despite it being occupied by all the tourists day and night, the enthusiasm and the joyful gay abandon of tourists could never overwhelm the Bridge personified. I have stood on Charles Bridge for two hours once and I still do not know what happened in those two hours.

The Bridge has many myths attached to it. Though the bridge is known to be a point where many a lovers and desperate people have ended their lives after committing suicide, it somehow, still, presents one of the most serene sights to behold for anyone. It has many statues that add to its majestic self, but there's one that has on one side a dog being patted by his master and on other side is a women being condemned. We got to know that touching one brings luck and touching other will bring anything but luck. I somehow could never help touching both.

I left Prague way back but I still dream of the city. My experience there was like that of a 'Hanged Man' in Tarot deck. He is supposed to loose all to learn afresh. He is supposed to look upside-down to renew his perspective and his growth happens at the expense of a sacrifice that he makes by losing all he possesses and going though an upside-down change in his perspective. Prague often calls me and I often call Prague back. It's a matter of time till we meet again and meet we shall for the city has still to answer a lot and demystify all the puzzles it has sown in my head.

Till then, I will miss its mystical beauty and hope that I can relive it whenever I see promos of our beautiful film.

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