The sun glittering off sequinned shalwar kameez was blinding. Amar Vartak's kurta stuck to his back, and his forehead prickled with sweat. For an Indian boy who'd never left Northern England in his life, the heat here was stupefying. Huddersfield never reached these dizzying heights. To be thrown head first into the colour and spectacle of a Bollywood movie set, in the heart of Mumbai, was a culture shock. His Hindi was barely recognisable--it was laced with a heavy, Northern accent and peppered with English slang phrases. People didn't understand him. They smirked behind his back. He was the whitest Indian boy on set.
But this was his dream come true. Bollywood films were what he lived for and fantasised about at home. Not for the grandiose spectacle, the music, the beautiful women, but for the actors.
He glanced across the crowded lot at the most pristine trailer on set and the tall, handsome man exiting it. There he was.
Rama Kamane was currently the hottest thing in Bollywood, and 'hot' was a word that didn't do him justice. The set smouldered in his presence. Camera lenses fogged up. He oozed sexuality from every pore and then some. The censors didn't like his films and frequently cut them. They were too suggestive. Rama was all testosterone and animal magnetism.
His reputation was legendary. He had a different woman on his arm every week, flaunting his sexuality in this conservative society. But most of the time he lived in America, where these things were acceptable and where he was trying to break into Hollywood films.
Amar had spent night after night lying in bed with his hand around himself, watching this man. It was wrong, he knew that, but he couldn't contain his lust.
He shook with anticipation as Rama spotted him and set off across the lot. The actor moved with the fluid grace of a big cat, his lean body encased in a sharply cut Italian suit, his shirt open to show a smooth expanse of caramel-coloured flesh. His black hair stuck up in carefully teased, shiny spikes. He wore mirrored sunglasses.
"Hi, you must be my supporting actor." Rama spoke in English with a trace of an American accent. There was no one more Westernised than him, and Amar was the one from Huddersfield.
Supporting actor, not co-star. Amar bristled instantly. That was another thing for which Rama was famous. Being an arsehole. Amar reluctantly shook his hand with his own damp one.
"Hello, Amar Vartak. I'm Rama." Rama's hand was cool and his grip firm. He introduced himself as if he didn't need a second name. Confident that everyone in the world knew who he was. He smiled, pink lips pulled back over blindingly white teeth.
Amar stared at him. He saw the awe on his own face reflected back in the mirrored sunglasses.
Rama grinned wider. "You make a good little brother." He patted Amar on the cheek and walked away.
Amar stood still in shock. Rama referred to the fact that Amar played his prospective brother-in-law in the script, the brother of the woman Rama would chase throughout the entire film. He and his sister were commoners while Rama played a prince. Of course. What irked him even further, though, was the pat on the cheek. What am I, a dog? Someone who might faint with gratitude over the touch of a superstar like Rama?
Amar's heart sank as his gaze followed Rama across the lot. It was better not to meet your heroes. They always let you down.