Friday, October 29, 2010

AZAD and the BHANG Story

Azad had come back again to the Institute for the Convocation and he was staying as a guest in my room. He used to smoke beedi and some times smoked ganja also which was available at very cheap rates. Since I do not smoke he purchased some Bhang from a shop, for the first time and told me that this will take me high. Bhang is a preparation made from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the cannabis plant consumed with sweets or mixed with almonds,spices, milk and sugar as Thandai during the Holi festival season. It was also sold as green Halwa and sweets are said to enhance the kick of Bhang. These are not considered a drug, but a traditional sleeping aid and appetizer. Sadhus and Sufis use Bhang to boost meditation and to achieve transcendental states.

He had brought four Goli’s ( balls) of Bhang. Since I have never taken it before, I asked my friend Sahu on the modus operandi of taking Bhang. I gave one goli to him but I took only half a goli mixed with milk and sugar since I was cautious about this unknown substance. Afterwards we both went to Law College mess and had our Sunday lunch with sweets. While taking food I jokingly told Sahu that the Bhang had no effect on me.

But while we were walking back along the Law College road, I felt some changes taking place. The road seemed endless and I felt I had been walking for hours and still not reaching our hostel. After a while I found that I am watching myself on a screen in Mid Shot walking and walking with the background passing just like a back projection process shot. Somehow, I reached my hostel room and lied down on my bed. The room seemed to twist and take a distorted strange shape. I felt as if my body was made of plastic, then iron, ice and of different materials. Slowly I sank into deep sleep. Some hours later I woke up and I found myself normal as the psychedelic effect of Bhang had worn off.

Late in the evening Azad came to my room along with another friend Verghese who was working at the Film Archives. I explained to them the effect Bhang had on me. Azad laughed it off saying that it was because, I was a non-smoker of Ganja, Bhang had more effect on me. He and Verghese each consumed on goli (ball) of Bhang mixed with milk. After an hour of chit chat Azad again took the remaining half a goli too saying that this Bhang had no kick at all for a veteran Ganja smoker like him and felt it as a waste of money. If he had purchased Ganja instead of the Bhang, by that time he would have been floating on the clouds.

At that time a Hindi feature film shooting had been going on in our campus starring Asha Parekh and others from Bombay. We all went to watch the shooting taking place at the exterior of our sound studio. The lighting was being done on the exterior staircase of the studio. When it was over, the star of the day, Asha Parekh came and stood there in position for the final lighting corrections. Azad whispered in my ears that how many Asha Parekhs are there? I said, only one. But he said he was seeing multiple figure of her standing at each and every step! When he asked Verghese, he also confirmed that he too was seeing multiple figures. Both felt that something was happening to them and wanted to get back to the hostel room. As I was interested in watching the shooting going on, I gave them my room key and asked them to take rest and I will join them soon.

After some time, Sahu came rushing to me saying that something had happened to these two fellows as they were at the hostel calling police, police etc. Immediately I went there and on seeing me both of the rushed towards me and pleaded please help us, please. It was this "please" which was misunderstood as "Police" by the students who gathered at the commotion! I told the onlookers that there was no problem and it was the effect of Bhang. I took both of them in to my room and asked them what had happened.

Azad explained to me that as soon as he reached my room and tried to open the lock he found the black iron lock shine like a diamond. When they entered the room the walls stood at odd angles and the room took a distorted shape. They both started singing songs to get away from the weird feeling. Azad went near the window and looked down and saw an Ambassador car on the road. Spontaneously he composed a Malayalam poem about the Ambassador car and started reciting it and they were having a nice time. Suddenly he was gripped with an unknown fear that he was going to die soon. He wanted to see his mother who lived in Kerala at least once before he died. Hearing that Verghese was also haunted by similar feelings of death and they both started crying holding on to each other. Then they came down from the hostel room and pleaded for help at passing students saying "Please. help, please!".

I pacified them saying that there was nothing to worry as it was all the effect of Bhang. But they could not be convinced and started to weep saying that there was something poisonous in the Bhang and they were sure to die. Before they die they wanted to see their mothers for the last time. However much I tried to convince them, they could not be convinced that it was just a passing feeling only due to the Bhang. Then I suggested that we will go and consult the Institute Doctor who lived near our campus. Holding my hands tightly from either side both of them accompanied me towards the doctor's residence. By the time we reached the Institute gate Azad asked me anxiously that how far still is the doctor's place since it had been hours since they have started walking. I could understand their feelings very well as I myself had similar experience in the afternoon while returning from the law college mess!

Finally we reached the doctor's residence and I explained to the doctor in detail about what had happened, while they both were waiting outside the consulting room. The doctor replied " Nothing can be done now. Let them take rest and sleep. In the morning it will be all over" On hearing the words " Nothing can be done" they thought even the doctor had considered them as a hopeless case and they were sure to die. Instantly they fell flat at the foot of the doctor and cried in Malayalam, "Yejamaane Rakshikkane" ( meaning "O Master Save us" ). Dr. Deshpande who was a Maharashtrian could not understand what they were telling. I whispered to the doctor to give them some placebo so that they will psychologically feel better. He gave them some vitamin tablets and warned them never to take such substances in future. They promised to him on oath that they will never ever have Bhang in their lifetime. I trust they kept up their promise and I too never had it afterward!


Joanna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NIMISH G said...

Hello Sir,
Its is an hilarious account. Bhang experience has become an eternal part of FTII days.
And believe me that it's the similar for everybody. This change is perspective due to Bhang is best retold by we FTIIans.May be because of our film education.
Your blog took me back to my and my batch mates adventures with Bhang in FTII.

Film Editing 2004

Ramachandra Babu said...

Thanks Nimish. Happy to know that you too had similar experience with Bhang!

dotfish said...

I just cant stop laughing after reading ur friends experience. Me & my friends had a very similar experience with bhang too. Lovely to read and I had my laugh of the day! Thanks for posting this story.

Anonymous said...

Could you tell us how Mr. Azad's career progressed after Vilkanundu Swapnangal? I looked up the net and there is hardly any information about him other than that he had directed one more movie, which was in fact even before the above movie.

This blog is very interesting.